Cassandra Curtis is now a Food Network star.
And you can see her creative touches and exacting standards in taste and flavour in her new bakery and cafe in downtown Port Coquitlam.
Designed with vintage touches, including a wall of beautiful china tea cups, Cassandra Cake Co. at 105-2331 Marpole Ave., will certainly be a destination for sweet lovers and food tourists for years to come.
"It came together exactly how I envisioned it. It's pretty exciting," says Curtis, whose store has its grand opening tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Food Network baking contest winner
Expect a huge crowd for the opening and today (Friday): The bake shop has been closed to enable Curtis and her team to prepare for the big day.
Many might recall how Curtis and her teammates, Dalana Fleming and Emily Skazlic, won the The Big Bake competition on Nov. 1, 2021, in a fast-paced episode on the Food Network that showed three teams competing to make giant Christmas-themed cakes that could move, sing or light up.
Where other bakers struggled with their theme or production, Curtis was as cool as a cucumber through much of the contest, as she and her teammates created a three-tiered cake of three French hens, a take-off from the song the 12 Days of Christmas.
And Curtis, 25, is just as cool and composed as she launches her new bakery, with Skazlic coming on board as head baker.
Although she only got the keys in January, Curtis has designed a charming bakery that will offer custom-made cakes, special events, high tea and a wide range of baked goods.
Imagine a French café with elegant white and gold tables and chairs, pastel coloured walls, floral decorations and vintage lighting where you can sit and enjoy fresh baked cookies, decadent cupcakes, scones and savoury treats.
You'll also be able to watch Curtis decorate the custom cakes she is famous at a long counter behind the glass-fronted bakery shelves.
There are plans for high tea, starting in April, where paying guests who reserve ahead will get a three-tiered party tray of luncheon treats, all baked inside the shop.
A food destination for Metro Vancouver
"We are really hoping to make this a destination for people," explained Curtis.
Customers can order a specialty tea or coffee along with their treats, with Curtis stressing that her products are mostly local, including coffee syrups made by her mom, Karen Curtis, the creator of Kics Lemonade who is well-known at the Port Coquitlam Farmers Market.
"We are doing our best to make everything super local," said daughter Cassandra.
However, while the younger Curtis is known for her custom cakes and creative mixing of flavours, she wants people to know that savoury foods will also be available for the lunch crowd.
Across the street is Patina Brewing Co. brew house and barbecue and Curtis said the two businesses have been collaborating.
She even created a black forest cupcake with dark cherry porter flavouring for the brewery's recent second anniversary.
"We're hoping to complement Patina," Curtis explained.
Helping Curtis with Cassandra Cake Co is her business partner Meghan Relkie, while husband, Terran Gimpel provides the necessary moral support.
Her family and friends also helped to get the place looking elegant and charming.
Curtis and her team split the $10,000 Food Network prize and the custom cake baker said winning the contest gave her the confidence to start the enterprise.
"It allowed me to believe... I'm not a nobody opening up the store," she says. "I'm a Food Network champion."