Movers & Shakers

Movers & Shakers: Candace Nelson

March 29, 2018

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Meet Candace Nelson, the woman behind Sprinkles Cupcakes and Pizzana. We met up at her LA restaurant to talk more about her passion for pastry, good pizza and love of art.

Name & Occupation:

Candace Nelson, Founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes and Pizzana

How did you get into the cupcake biz?

I started in investment banking and then moved on to the internet world. When the burst happened in 2000, I looked inward to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I always loved to bake, and I loved working with chocolate and flour, so I went to pastry school in San Francisco at Tante Marie.

What inspired you to start Sprinkles Cupcakes?

I started making custom cakes just out of my kitchen when I graduated. Cakes were not a great business because people did not order them as much. I was spending days upon days making these beautiful sugar decorations and realized I wanted to make something the people could eat on a daily basis. That turned into cupcakes, but they were still kids fare at the time. You only found them at the super market and they were not great quality, not much decoration. I realized I need to, and wanted to, elevate them and then subsequently became obsessed with making a cupcake only bakery. So, Sprinkles was born.

My great grandmother was a restaurateur back in the depression years and super successful, a single mom, definitely a woman before her time. I feel like her spirit lives a little in me. I really just found a love in food and hospitality. I think you can’t have one without the other. Food is really about caring for people at the end of the day.

And how did cupcakes turn into pizza?


They are very different in that one is dessert and the other is savory. They are similar in that they are both carb focused, they are both easy to love, and both handheld food. I realized I have this sneaky obsession with handheld foods. What’s interesting is that I was not expecting to jump back into the food industry because…this is a lot of work.

Sure enough we were at a friend’s house having a pizza party, catered, and I took one bite of this pizza and thought I need to meet this chef and I headed over to the pizza oven. Daniele Uditi, this chef from Naples, was standing there making these crazy good pizzas and he was a Sprinkles fan. We started talking about the nuances that go into making a good crust, I started talking about the nuances that go into making a good pastry. We were so simpatico, and he happen to mention that he wanted to open his own pizza restaurant one day. And I can’t help myself because I love food and I see a need in the market and I want to fill it. I want to create places that I want to go. I had no intention of saying this but said, I would love to do this with you.

All-time favorite cupcake flavor:

The dark chocolate cupcake, got me through both of my pregnancies so that is always my go-to. But my other favorite is the banana, some people are mystified by that, but if you have tried our banana, you know it is something special.

The key to a perfect pastry is…

I think you have to use the world’s best ingredient. If you are using vanilla, I am huge fan of Nielsen-Massey vanilla. I use it at Sprinkles and in my pastries, always. I am super loyal because it is considered the best in the world. If you are using chocolate, you have to use the best chocolate. You look at most pastry recipes and there is only a few ingredients really, so everything matters.

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What should someone order for the first visit to Pizzana?

It sounds dull, but I think you have to try the margarita. To truly understand what Pizzana is about you have to try our Neo Margarita, which is Daniele's take on it. We take the classics and pump them up with modern ideas and ingredients, but keep the traditional technique by keeping the dough approach the same. Classic with a twist. That is what Sprinkles was too, taking something beloved and a classic and then stepping it up and making it modern. I guess that is why I love your clothes too!

Best advice you’ve ever received:

I don’t know exactly who told me this, but I think the idea of staying true to yourself and embracing your differences. I sort of live in a world where there are a lot of forces to be just like everyone else. All my friends were going to business school and I thought I don’t necessary want to take the expected path. I want to go to pastry school even though that was never really in the plan and being OK with that. Embracing individualities and your differences.

Outside of food, what are you most passionate about?

I love food so much it is dangerous, but I really love contemporary art and the art scene here in LA has just been so incredible because I feel like I have grown up with it. When I first moved here it was very much of an emerging market and now it is really a power house.

Describe your style in three words:

Simple, relaxed, modern.

One thing you never leave the house without:

I have like 25 NARS lip glosses in my purse at one time. I am sort of a lip gloss freak.

What makes you feel confident?

Setting goals and achieving them.

Guilty Pleasure?

Game of Thrones

Camo or leopard?

Leopard

Red velvet or chocolate?

Chocolate

Red lip or smoky eye?

Red Lip

Veronica Beard is…

My everyday go to for buttoned up casual.

Photos by Erik Melvin

Visit Pizzana
11712 San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90049


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