It’s great to finally have an excuse to eat a cupcake. After all, December 15 is officially National Cupcake Day!
I stumbled upon a wonderful place, tucked away in a small shopping center on Woodbury Road in Woodbury that specializes in homemade cupcakes and specialty cakes. When I went to interview the owner, I found her story just as amazing as her cupcakes.
Corina Elgart, an energetic and animated pastry chef is owner of Taste, which is not your typical bakery.
“I don’t get up and come here at four o’clock in the morning,” she says. “We are not a traditional bakery. We are a dessert shop.”
“We are not a traditional bakery. We are a dessert shop.”
Taste creates gourmet cupcakes, cake pops, bars, quick breads, brownies and what Elgart calls “sculpted cakes.” There was a pair of cake “skis” when I visited, and if you go onto their website, you’ll see a “raw bar cake” that looks exactly like oysters on ice with cocktail sauce. “Every week is different and every cake is different,” says Elgart. “For the most part, everything is one of a kind.”
Elgart is truly one of a kind as well. Before becoming a pastry chef she was a criminal investigator for the federal government in Washington, D.C. She then came back to New York to become a stay-at-home-mom. During her first pregnancy she developed early onset post-partum depression. She started baking and that changed everything.
“I just needed something to calm me,” says Elgart. “I loved the measuring, the instant gratification, and the way the house smelled beautiful. I just kept doing it and doing it, and creating my own recipes. After my daughter turned one, I said to my husband, I think I want to go to culinary school, because I loved everything about it. So I went locally in Syosset to the now Star Career Academy. At the time it was the Culinary Academy of Long Island. I went every night. I left my externship two weeks in to open a bakery. It was simply amazing.”
There is a sign in the store which reads: “Do the job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” “I love being here, and I love coming to work,” she says.
Elgart opened the bakery six years ago in August in Syosset, and moved to the larger location in Woodbury three years ago. Shortly after opening the original store, on a whim, she applied to be a contestant on The Next Great Baker on the Learning Channel. It was a Cake Boss show hosted by Buddy Valastro. The very next day she heard she was accepted as one of 10 contestants. Just weeks after opening her bakery, she had to pack her bags, shut down the bakery temporarily (she didn’t even have employees yet), and leave her husband and her two children ages two and four, while she headed off to New Jersey for three weeks of filming.
“My husband was great. He said ‘you have to do this.’ I ended up making it to the finals. I was one of three finalists. It was the most physically, mentally and emotionally thing I have ever done, but to have national exposure when I just opened was a blessing,” she says.
Although she has dreams of having her own dessert/baking show one day, Elgart is happy doing what she does best — making desserts.
As for the cupcakes, she makes 10 flavors a week, and tries to keep it seasonal and interesting. There are six standard cupcakes and four specials, which change every week. Some of her best sellers are the Elvis cupcake (banana, chocolate chip and peanut butter), the Oreo cupcake or Samoa cupcake (based on the Girl Scout cookie). It’s a real winner! Seasonal cupcakes may include pumpkin or pecan pie for Thanksgiving, candy cane for Christmas, and pina colada or key lime in spring. Her most unusual cupcake was a bacon, maple and whisky cupcake which she made around Fathers Day. All cupcakes are sold for $3.
Taste’s products are all natural and made from scratch. Gluten-free products are also available, and basically whatever a customer wants, Elgart will make.
I walked out with a sampling of a Twix cupcake filled with caramel and topped with a chocolate Italian meringue; a Heath cupcake, chocolate cake filled with toffee fudge and Heath buttercream; a white chocolate pistachio, raspberry cupcake; an Oreo cupcake and a chocolate peanut butter cupcake. Although I loved them all, the Twix was my favorite.
So what better way to celebrate the cupcake then making a trip to Taste. You won’t be disappointed.
Hours are Tuesday – Thursday 9 – 7 pm, Friday 9 – 6:30 pm and Saturday 9 – 5 pm. Taste is closed on Sundays and Mondays.