By Saira Toppin
Lucky, lucky me. I was able to taste the delicious banana pudding by Desserts by Tawny Ong, and fell in love. I have had banana pudding before, but hers was superb. Our next TALENT profile features NYC based baker, Tawny Ong. Marcy and I first encountered her sweets at a fundraiser and enjoyed the superior flavors and textures in her little treats – perfect for large or small events.
Tawny only began her business in 2008, but already has an impressive resume. She has catered for Mayor Bloomberg, Merrill Lynch, and recently at a fashion designer launch party in the Hamptons. You know how the Women’s Mafia loves the Hamptons.
Her website features a full menu of desserts and prices. She offers specials, and does custom orders. Tawny has received special praise from Discovery Kids, Buzz International, and now she can add us, Women’s Mafia.
WM: What made you decide to get into baking?
I basically felt lost in my career path. Then one day, I followed this amazing aroma towards a cupcake bakery. I walked in and instantaneously felt better. I looked around and said to myself, “I can do this!”
WM: Who helped you start your own catering business?
One thing I learned is that all you have is your education, willingness, and if you are lucky, to be surrounded by good people. I would have to say it all started with family and friends, and then it kind of blew up from there through word of mouth.
WM: What is your favorite dessert to make?
Good question. I wanted to learn everything about the baking business ground up. So my baking career started out serving customers, to icing cupcakes, to baker, to icing cakes to assistant manager. But, one of my main goals was to one day bake the perfect Red Velvet Cake. I call it the ugly duckling cake. The batter just looks horrible. However, once baked it is so beautiful.
But as Julia Child was taught, there is an art to making even the basic scrambled eggs or in this case a vanilla cake. I take pride in what I do and respect the art of baking and the joy it brings to both me and my clients.
WM: Is there a way for the Women’s Mafia to assist Desserts by Tawny Ong?
Absolutely! Women entrepreneurs supporting other women entrepreneurs? Girl power baby! It is really an honor to be a part of Women’s Mafia. Hopefully your readers will feel inspired, in my case, for other bakers out there to go out and do their thing. They can ask themselves, “why not me?” and believe that they can do it! I personally believe that there is always room for one better one. I went to Babson College #1 entrepreneur school so I love seeing other entrepreneurs succeed.
WM: Do you employ shortcuts in some of your recipes? If yes, tell us one.
I want Desserts by Tawny Ong to be associated with great quality, great service, and reasonable prices. There really are no shortcuts to creating a good product. There are many things that can go wrong to making even just one mini cupcake. You have that one small chance to WOW the customer, therefore, lots of love and care has to be put into each one.
There is a shortcut I know that actually helps ensure better quality which in the baking/cooking world is called Mise En Place, which basically means to prepare your station before you start baking. There is a system you follow in order to minimize your chances of making a mistake.
WM: What was the most exciting event that you catered for?
Each event, big or small is special and an honor for me. I pretty much know all of my clients. 90 percent through referrals and the other 10 percent find me via my website.
If I had to choose one event, it would be catering the desserts at Gracie Mansion for Mayor Bloomberg. It pretty much went like this:
Number of guests 1000
– Number of desserts 250 red velvets, 250 vanilla chocolates, 250 hummingbirds, 300 cups of vanilla icebox cake, and 300 cups of banana pudding.
– Number of minutes it took for those 1000 guest to finish all the desserts and have me realize I should have baked more – 40 minutes.
– Number of pictures and minutes Mayor Bloomberg took that day – 900 pictures with 900 guests in 50 minutes. Touché Mayor. Touché.
– Having the Mayor of NYC give Desserts by Tawny Ong a shout out…Priceless.
Thank you and “Live life one cupcake at a time ladies!”
Visit www.tawnyong.com for more.