Tag Archives: gourmet cupcakes

Billy’s Bakery

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 At the risk of looking like a total and complete dork (not to mention a fool!), I thought I’d post some pretty idiotic photographs that I took on my very first trip to New York.  At the time I was completely obsessed with Katie Holmes.  This was in December of 2005, in the pre-Suri days, before her Jackie O. transformation, back when she was known as Katie, not Kate.  A few months before my trip to New York, Katie was featured in a cover story for InStyle Magazine which chronicled her new single gal status, her life in Manhattan, and her favorite NYC hangouts.  Most of the photo shoot for the article took place in Chelsea at Katie’s favorite bakery and cupcakery, Billy’s – a place she frequented almost daily at the time.   As Tom once said about his wife, “She loves cupcakes, okay?  I mean the girl loves cupcakes.”  🙂  Well, I absolutely LOVED that InStyle  article.  So much so that my copy of that issue is still sitting on my bookshelf all these years later.  So, on my first trip to the big apple, I just HAD to drag my boyfriend out to Chelsea to stalk Katie’s fave cupcake maker.  And, while there, I also just had to recreate her photo shoot.  Yes, I am that big of a dork.  🙂 LOL

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The story behind Billy’s is actually quite an unusual one.  Billy Reece, a cupcake aficionado who idolized Martha Stewart, founded  Billy’s Bakery with two partners in December of 2003.   Billy started his baking career working at the ever-popular Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich for two years before quitting to begin his own baked goods venture. Billy’s Bakery became an overnight success.  Not long afterwards Billy Reece changed his name to Lauren Reece  and, thanks to some hormone treatments and a surgery, Billy ceased to be.  Shortly after that, Lauren sold her stake in Billy’s to her two co-founders, Marc and Wayne, and is now enjoying her new life  as a woman.  So, in a city where change seems to be the only constant, it’s only fitting that not even a popular cupcake bakery’s namesake could remain the same. 

But even without the original Billy at the helm, the small bakery has remained a success.  The owners are currently planning to expand their business with another location in the same neighborhood.  I can’t help but think that Katie may have had something to do with the shop’s blitz of success.  Even after she met Tom and moved back to L.A., Katie remained faithful to the bakery.  Billy’s not only supplied the cupcakes for Katie’s 27th birthday party at F.A.O. Schwartz in December of 2005, but they also reportedly made the cake for her 2006 wedding.  But Katie is certainly not Billy’s only celebrity fan.  Ethan Hawke, Mandy Moore, and Bungalow 8 club founder Amy Sacco are also fans of the neighborhood bakery.  Billy’s has also been featured on Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, MTV Diary Katie Holmes, The Today Show, MTV’s Boiling Point, the CBS Early Show, the Food Network’s Roker On The Road, and Martha Stewart’s television show Martha. 

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Billy’s Bakery is an adorable little cupcake shop and with its yellow painted brick walls and cute and homey decor, it looks like it came straight out of a kitchen advertisement from the 1940s.  I wanted to spend all day there. 🙂  But while the cupcakes were tasty, I have to say that they are just not as good as my, and SJP’s, New York fave Magnolia Bakery.  But I still highly recommend stalking Billy’s, as much for the homey ambiance as for the desserts.  Besides cupcakes, they also serve pies and cakes, which are supposed to be out of this world, as well.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Billy’s Bakery is located at 184 9th Avenue in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.  You can visit their website here.

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Dots Cupcakes!

Last week, on a whim, I ventured into Dots Cupcakes in Pasadena to buy some Halloween cupcakes for my boyfriend.  While waiting in line I noticed a framed InStyle Magazine  article sitting on a shelf in the tiny shop.  The article detailed the June 2007 wedding of Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell, who rather than serving the traditional wedding cake at their nuptials, opted instead for country apple and red velvet mini-cupcakes from none other than the very bakery I was standing in!  So of course I had to ask Dots owner and founder, Hyo Kwan, a few questions.  🙂

Kwan told me that she had no idea who the cupcakes were for until she arrived at the couple’s Calabasas ranch the day of the ceremony and met Rebecca Romijn.  A few days later she had reporters from TMZ swarming her shop asking all sorts of questions about the celeb nuptials.  She actually thought I worked for TMZ, too, with all the questions I was asking, and I had to convince her that I was actually just a stalker.  🙂   Since the InStyle  spread, Kwan has been featured in several bridal and food magazines and I couldn’t help but think to myself how much I’d like to have her bake cupcakes for my wedding.  🙂  Dots will also be providing the desserts for Rebecca Romijn’s upcoming baby shower.  Besides the O’Connells, other celebrity fans of the small shop include my fave Shannen Doherty, the Black-Eyed Peas, and Oscar De La Hoya- at least I think Kwan said Oscar De La Hoya frequents the shop.  She mentioned some sports star with a multi-word last name, but once someone starts talking sports, I pretty much just tune out.  LOL  But celebs?  Celebs I remember.  🙂  Kwan said that when Shannen Doherty stopped in, the shop was actually completely sold out of cupcakes!  Shannen was very gracious, though, and did not throw any sort of hissy fit about not getting her cupcake fix.  See, I knew she was nice!!!  🙂

Hyo, a former events manager for the L.A. Dodgers, was only 29 years old when she opened up Dots with virtually no baking experience whatsoever – just a love of cupcakes.  An endeavor that began in her kitchen with a borrowed mixer has grown into a 5,000 cupcake-a-day business.  And, after only a year and a half, Kwan is ready to branch out and will be opening up a second Dots location in Old Town Pasadena early next year.  Kwan really could not have been nicer, entertaining me for a good 15 minutes with stories about her adventures baking for celebs.  She even introduced me to a reporter for Pasadena Weekly Newspaper  while I was there and told her about my blog.  🙂  You can read more of Hwan’s story here.

Dots cupcakes are FABULOUS and I HIGHLY recommend stalking the tiny shop!  I have long been a fan of Magnolia Bakery in New York City – even though I am diabetic!  LOL – so when the gourmet cupcake craze hit L.A. last year, I could not have been more excited.  I swear I hit up every single cupcake shop in the greater L.A. area hoping to find a brand that could hold its own against my beloved Magnolia.  Sadly, not a one of them was any good.  Celeb favorite Sprinkles (pictured above), Yummy Cupcakes, Le Cupcake – they were all just mediocre.  But on Thursday, as I bit into a Dots cupcake for the first time, I was floored!  They are FABULOUSLY YUMMY and rank a very close second to Magnolia.  I’ll definitely be satisfying my cupcake cravings there from now on when I can’t get to the East Coast.  🙂

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  🙂

Stalk It: Dots is located at 400 S. Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena.  You can visit their website here.  The bakery is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 7pm.  They are closed on Sundays.  Dots new store will be opening up in the next few months on Fair Oaks Avenue in Old Town Pasadena, right next door to J. Crew. 

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