pumpktoberfest #43 -
treat yoself.

spice up yer nuts.

pumpktoberfest 2010!

#195 - links &
drinks 2011.


les foodtrepreneurs #1: kumquat cupcakery.

people of the internet! let me introduce to you ms. natthelibrarian, the first in an exciting lineup of new writers who have heeded my call for eat!drink!snack! global domination. doff your cap or curtsey or some shit. it's the least you can do. also! let me introduce her new column, "les foodtrepreneurs," a column designed to provide you, the reader, with insight into different radical NYC food businesses & the folks behind them. anyway, i'm pretty psyched. you should be too.

i admit it. i like my snacks tiny. why tiny? then i can eat more of them!

i also like my snacks to be local and, if it's really my lucky day, to be independently produced by awesome people.

this brings me to kumquat cupcakery. two perfect bites. amazing flavor combinations. they're all baked in brooklyn in a kitchen on flatbush avenue by some very awesome ladies.

i paid a visit to the brooklyn flea in williamsburg on sunday to indulge in a few cupcakes and to have a chat with the lovely keavy landreth, who dreamed up these dainty delicacies. full disclosure: keavy is a friend and i often have opportunities to scarf these babies. i have never been disappointed. her specialty is the savory/sweet combos.

cute, tiny little peach cupcake with goat cheese/buttercream/rosemary icing.

i tried a peach cupcake with goat cheese/buttercream/rosemary icing and a strawberry shortcake cupcake. they were both out of this world! the flavor combination on the peach/goat cheese was just perfect--a little savory, a little sweet and then a tiny tinge of rosemary. it was pure genius. the strawberry shortcake was also divine. it tasted like real, fresh strawberries and not too sweet. only eating a few of them is no easy task.

cupcakes with a smile!

natalie: hi keavy!

keavy: hi!

n: i'm just gonna ask you a few questions about kumquat. so, i was wondering, how did you get the idea to start making tiny cupcakes?

k: it all started in 2007, a year after i graduated college. i was doing some painting, as well as working in coffee shops and other odd jobs. i had a lot of free time between selling paintings and i was getting a little annoyed with whole art world scene, and i just started baking tons of cupcakes! it was just sort of a distraction, but i got very obsessed with it. it was right at the start of when all the the hype over cupcakes was taking off, but i didn't like any of the bakeries that were popping up, so i just started making my own. i was trying out more and more flavors and my apartment is so tiny that i decided to shrink the size of them so i could sample the flavor combinations. i had been giving them to all my of friends and they started very much encouraging me to sell them because i was going overboard giving them away.

n: what got the business to take off?

k: i started selling them at artists & fleas in williamsburg without any kind of business license and just cooking out of my kitchen. the response there was really good, so i figured i was on to something. after a few weeks a woman from time out ny stopped by my table and said she wanted to feature me in their valentine issue. when the article came out i ended up getting 75 orders for the day of valentines day! that's like 1600 cupcakes in one day and i was baking out of a 300 square foot apartment but it was really good because it kicked me into gear to get my business license and get things registered properly etc. i feel like kumquat officially became a business the day that article came out.

n: wow. so, what was the process like to find a larger kitchen to bake out of in brooklyn?

k: well, it was pretty hard, actually. especially because my cupcakes can't really be made ahead of time. it's either the night before or the day of. after about 9 months of baking out of my kitchen, i started selling at the brooklyn flea. i just started asking around, but it took a long time before i found the right kitchen space for cupcakes.

n: what is the largest amount of cupcakes you've ever had to deliver for one order?

k: well, i did this big trade event called "tastings nyc" after i'd been running kumquat for about a year. they asked me to participate in this huge event and it actually turned out to be awful. i had to pay a $1500 booth fee and then donate 10000 cupcakes over two days and nothing really came of it. one of the things i've learned is what events to participate in and which to skip. for example, i did this tiny event at the brooklyn winery where maybe 25 people had the cupcakes, but i got so many orders from it and three weddings to cater! i'd say the biggest corporate order i've ever done was victoria's secret. they ordered 1500 cupcakes for an employee appreciation event.

n: where can we find your cupcakes around the city?

k: we have them at the dean and deluca in the new york times building. we sell them at da vine provisions on atlantic avenue. wholesale isn't really our big thing though. cupcakes have a very short shelf life and retailers don't like having to throw out product, so we mainly do the brooklyn flea and catering orders.

n: so, my last question...what's your favorite flavor?

k: well, it used to be the peanut butter/banana/honey and i still really love that one, but often my newest flavor is my favorite, like today's peach/goat cheese/rosemary. i really like the sweet and savory combination flavors.

n: so, you aren't totally sick of them? hahaha.

k: well, i will go weeks without eating one, but then i'll like, go crazy and eat a ton of them. i do occasionally crave my cupcakes.

n: haha. well, thanks so much for talking with me, keavy.

k: no problem. now let's go get a beer!

natthelibrarian resides in brooklyn where she dreams about chickens (live ones), gardens, cheese, beer and libraries. she is employed as a research librarian in manhattan. for further nosing around, see her on twitter and at her blog.

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