#SCBDReview: #Health and #Fitness: Pig Board Snout A Pig Game

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Pig Board Items

Are you looking for a game that involves health, fitness & fun? Well, you should check out Pig Board Snout A Pig.

Stephanie Lough, the publicist for this popular game says, “The key to the game is turning negative thoughts and feelings into positive action. The game is simple – players take a picture of something that represents an issue they are battling in life (be it a photo of their favorite dessert, to an ex that they never got closure on, the theme is entirely customizable to the group!), and share with the group their lingering negative feelings. This can be as silly/funny to serious/thoughtful as the players chose to be. After their story, they “snout” the image to The Pig Board, and with it they vow to let go of those pent-up feelings for good!”

While there are gyms, fitness equipment, home video workouts, this is a game to get you in the mood to work your muscles! If you’re looking for something new & exciting, be sure to check out this game!

The Pig Board can be a great motivational tool several ways – both as a game for a weightless support group, or as simple visual reminder for individuals to stay on track, shares Stephanie. She also mentions that, “It is important to note that in no way does The Pig Board imply that people who are trying to lose weight are piggish or should view their former selves as piggish. The Pig Board is simply a cute “friend” who is available to take any emotional burdens (or decadent chocolate cake recipes) off the shoulders of his owner!”

But, I was very curious about this game and asked how it assists someone who wishes to get in shape.

“Like a vision board can help inspire you to reach your goals, The Pig Board can be used as “fit”spiration, as well as give you the opportunity to discuss your fitness successes (and fails) with a group of like-minded individuals. Studies have shown that people are more likely to stick with their exercise and diet plan when they are not alone!” Stephanie says.

Pinned Board

Everyone is so focused on the act of working out and no one takes the time to think how mental it can be. You must be in a certain mindset to get motivated. You can’t just decide one day, “I’m going to work out” because more than likely, it won’t happen.

“Mental wellness is just as important as physical health, and while there are gyms, fitness classes, equipment and so much more available to help people maintain physical health, caring for mental health is a much more taboo topic,” Stephanie says. “The Pig Board opens to door to healthy dialogue between friends, promoting emotional strength and therapeutic release of mental burdens.”

For more information, visit– http://snoutapig.com/

Happy workout!

#SCBDExclusive #Health and #Fitness Interview with Shana Schneider

 

 

 

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When it comes to health & fitness, Shana Schneider knows best how to get others to stay in shape and keep that motivation going by creating a media company focused on helping every week a FITWEEK.

“FITWEEK provides tips and tools for bringing fitness into your everyday life,” Shana explains. “From finding a workout that fits your lifestyle to providing ways to add fitness into daily routines like getting ready in the morning, to spending time in the office, to prepping for dinner or spending time with friends and family. FITWEEK is a community of people who are learning to turn every week into a FITWEEK.”

By combining her love for health & fitness with the Olympics, she stays fit by staying consistent with her workouts.

“The Olympics are about seeing the best athletes compete. There are two major things I’m struck by in these athletes– their determination and consistency. When they fall, they get back up,” Shana says. “So, when I have a completely off day and my usual fitness routine can’t be done, I get right back to it as soon as possible. In order to stay consistent, I also get creative to find ways to be active even if I can’t get to my favorite fitness class or get in that 30-40 minute workout.”

At times, it can’t be easy to just continue that workout because we all have those “lazy days” where we’d prefer to pig out and not workout. However, that’s not the way to be because you end up gaining weight. Let’s just avoid that and at least take 20 minutes to do some sort of physical activity. I wanted to know how Shana stays in such good shape.

“I’m all about group fitness. I love a good Zumba class, but also try to mix in a yoga or pilates class once or twice a week. I also make it part of my fun time, so instead of going to a movie, my friends and I will swap out the movie for a yoga class,” Shana says. “I also have a short daily morning workout, which involves squats while brushing my teeth and then sit-ups and a few push ups right before I get into the shower. I’ve turned this into a habit and feel like I’ve set the tone for the day, too!”

You don’t have to be in the gym to exercise, you can do this anywhere! Shana has a FITWEEK Vlog where she creates fitness videos. Her video called “TV Binge Watching Workout” shows people that you can work-out while staying glued to the tube! She puts her arms behind your head and twist side to side. By this, you’ll work out your abs and waistline. Therefore, no more excuses!

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To find more about Shana Schneider’s FITWEEK Channel subscribe to her page: https://www.youtube.com/user/FITWEEKvlog

Happy watching!

#SCBDExclusive Interview with Kenny Santucci: Health & Fitness

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Kenny and I.

Sipping his skim mocha and chatting at Joe’s Coffee Shop in New York, MTV’s The Challenge, Kenny Santucci, 30, spoke softly about his journey being overweight as a teen. You would never guess this guy could possibly be self-conscious, even at 6’1 and around 190 pounds!

“I still see myself the way I used to be sometimes,” Santucci noted. “So, I always have to stay in great shape and look my best or I feel like shit.”

Around ages 13-14, Santucci began really looking in the mirror and evaluating his appearance and decided he was unhappy with himself. He began wanting to eat and look better.

“I really got into health and fitness at 16 and found CrossFit at 28,” said Kenny.

Santucci is a Head Coach at CrossFit GSP in Rochelle park, New Jersey where he assists people with feeling more confident and good about their appearance and themselves.

According to Kenny, the first thing you see when you walk into his gym is “Change happens here.” Those words stuck with me as I took the time to focus on his words and the way he talked about CrossFit. With passion in his eyes, he went onto say how much he’s seen people progress from unconfident individuals into feeling comfortable in their own skin and it made me believe how much of an impact CrossFit has been on this man’s life.

“It’s a fun environment where you cheer louder for the last place guy,” said Kenny.

People may see CrossFit as a tough and intense workout, but what  they miss is the family and social togetherness side of it, which Kenny explained to me.

As for the health & fitness side, Santucci mentioned these tips he lives by, “Try and stay away from bread and pastas and never ever eat fast food and soda because they are so bad for you.”

At the end of our hour-long heart-to-heart, he shared with me how much he’s fallen in love with CrossFit, the surroundings and helping people. As for feeling motivated, Kenny has those “lazy days” too where he needs to push himself to work out. But, do you know what he does?

“I tell myself how good I’ll feel after.”

So, try to stay positive and healthy this year, folks!

 

chai.

 

#SCBDExclusive: Interview with Chef Josh Barnhard of Josh’s Coastal Chaos

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A few months ago I had the opportunity to meet with a local chef Josh Barnhard at his restaurant, Josh’s Coastal Chaos that is located in Point Pleasant, NJ. Josh’s Coastal Chaos is unlike anything in its area and focuses on giving its customers good, hearty meals that have a creative focus and are also a bang for your buck. Check out my interview with him below and see how he got started and his plans for the future.

SCBD: How old were you when you started cooking?

JB: I’ve always loved cooking since I was little. I was 17 when I started working in a kitchen and continued to work in restaurants throughout college. I  worked at Tiffany’s in Toms River, Front of House at Lone Star and Charlie Brown’s.  Then I  started working at my family’s restaurant, Taylor’s Dockside Grill while working other jobs. I also learned a lot when I worked for Aramark for a period of time.

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SCBD: What made you want to choose cooking?

JB: My dream career is one where I can creative and I can do that with cooking. I am  extremely passionate about cooking and music.

SCBD: What made you want to open Josh’s Coastal Chaos?

JB: I was working at Taylor’s Dockside up until the time Superstorm Sandy hit.  The damage was so bad because of Sandy that we couldn’t reopen.  After a while I decided to Chaos in Point Pleasant  Beach and its been open since April.

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SCBD: What’s your vision with Josh’s Coastal Chaos?

JB: We’re doing a lot of trial and error. We currently have breakfast and lunch every day and may even serve dinner at some point due to the high demand from our customers.

SCBD: What would you call the cuisine here?

JB: We’re a family based restaurant that specializes in comfort food with a chaotic twist. We have everything to breakfast classics to lunch favorites. We don’t serve any frozen food, everything is homemade from the chicken fingers to pancakes.

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#SCBDExclusive #Interview with Singer, @FreddieBourne

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I’ve always been a trend spotter and love being the first to know the coolest up and coming designers, artists, singers and more. When I heard, Freddie Bourne, a Fairleigh Dickinson student I’ve known for a while was working on an album, I had to give you all the inside scoop:

Frederick “Freddie” Bourne is an American singer-songwriter, occassional actor, and keyboard player. Since his solo career began in 2012, Bourne has not strayed from the music scene, opening for acts such as Tyler Hilton from the television show “One Tree Hill”, Jersey Acoustic Music Award Winner Chelsea Carlson, and playing for Gavin and Joey DeGraw’s bar The National Underground. Bourne recently has been hard at work in preparation to release his first debut album, “Only Human”, which is expected for a August 6th release date on iTunes.

Canvas Clash Performance opening up for Tyler Hilton

SCBD:  How long have you been singing?

FB: I began to sing when I first learned the theme from “Barney & Friends” and I was playing piano with it at the same time. But I probably didn’t begin seriously until I was about 9-10 years old in school choirs.

SCBD: Who or what influenced you to start singing?

FB: Embarassing enough, I actually really looked up to Aaron Carter’s second album “Aaron’s Party (Come and Get It)” and I ended up knowing every single song on that album front and back emulating his voice. It was really awesome at the time to see someone that wasn’t too far away from my age doing something that was getting such feedback from people and making a living.

Live Room

SCBD:   How long have you been writing music?

FB: Writing music was actually a little later on. I knew that I always wanted to write but I ended up getting so discouraged because of numerous amounts of writer’s block growing up. Either it was that or it was the fact I was just simply too last to want to write. But when I got to high school and started doing shows with one of my bands, the songwriting came up as I wrote the music along with the other members. Probably around the age of 14 or 15 is when I decided to hone my songwriting technique.

Cafe Improv Performance

SCBD:  When did you decide to take up the album project?

FB: I’ve been planning to release one for about four years, whether it was with one of the bands I was in at the time, or the fact I wanted to rearranged cover songs, it was always something in mind. When both the bands broke up, I had all of these lyrics that were going to waste because the band never went through with them or we never worked on them. By then, I was asking myself, “What’s stopping me?”. I called up my producer the next day and said I’m ready to take this on and two and a half months later and nights till 3 am paid off.

Tom Browning Jr and Joe DeGaetano

SCBD: What kind of songs should we look out for?

FB: Many of these songs have a variety of context. The album is called “Only Human” because it explores many of the experiences that people feel like they go through alone, but the reality is that they are not alone. There comes a time where someone feels that they go through this abnormal feeling experience in their lives and that no one can compare nor understand. But my objective is for people, that this applies to, which essentially is everyone and anyone, that it isn’t overlooked and that it’s a part of living in this life we have.

SCBD: What’s your personal favorite?

FB: “Secret I’ve Kept” is still one of my all time favorites. I wrote this song about someone who never had the courage to tell a person they really felt a connection with. I feel many people just try to brush it off but it’s a nice thing to reminiscence about and then see the growth from that time period till now telling them how you feel in this song – which is focused on the emotion rather than all of the technical aspects of the track. We recorded it live in a church in one take because we wanted to make sure that the feelings were as honest and true as possible.

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SCBD:  What’s one thing you want SCBD readers to know about you and the album?

FB: The album isn’t about me – I take the Dan Folgerburg approach and base it on observation. I feel when writing an album and it’s so close to who you as a person – it’s great people can see the struggles and the feelings you’ve had and your journey, but I’m not someone who wants to put my life out there and people get this idea or reputation of who I am. I rather them speak to me personally face-to-face, to know that information. This album focuses on the listener.

Control Room

SCBD: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

FB: I’m a type of person that goes day by day. I have no idea where I will be or what I will be doing as a career. I work in radio broadcasting and making excellent lead way there with internships at Howard Stern and whatnot. I see that as more ideal for me to be in case the music doesn’t work out to be a full time job.  The music industry is slim and the chances of making it are even tougher. The fact is, I know this album may not go anywhere, but that doesn’t discourage me because I knew I put something out with my heart and soul and something that will be appreciated by some. Even if only one person understands this album and the meaning, I’m satisfied.

SCBD: What’s one saying you live by?

FB: It’s not a saying but it’s definitely some helpful advice that helped me get through the creation process easily: Good and or bad reaction is better than no reaction at all. Regardless if people like certain songs or dislike others, at least it’ll make an impact on them in order to remember the track. If there is no reaction, it’s just shut out and just ends up in the background completely forgotten. I’d rather be bashed than have a bland “it’s okay” response.

 Thanks Freddie for giving us the exclusive look into your debut album, “Only Human” and make sure you listen to his debut single, “Push Away”!

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#SCBDExclusive: #Interview with NASA’s Mark Uhran & the realistic factors of the new movie @Elysium

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PHOTO BY:Stephanie Blomkamp COPYRIGHT:© 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PHOTO BY: Stephanie Blomkamp
COPYRIGHT: © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

You may be a bit surprised but I’m a huge fan of scientific fiction movies and love to see movies about undiscovered places, the end of the world, and more! So when the opportunity to interview Mark Uhran, former Assistant Associate Administrator of NASA’s International Space Station to discuss the realistic scientific and fitness factors of the new movie Elysium (featuring Matt Damon & Jodie Foster) that comes out tomorrow. I couldn’t pass it up and it was one of the most inspirational and mind blowing interviews I’ve done for the site. It’s also proof that sky may not even be the limit.

PHOTO BY:Stephanie Blomkamp COPYRIGHT:© 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PHOTO BY: Stephanie Blomkamp
COPYRIGHT: © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

SCBD: How was it working and developing the International Space Station?

MU: It was an amazing experience that I did for 28 years. It’s great to know that the astronauts who go on the station are ready and enthusiastic to go back in a few months after they leave. All the hard work truly pays off and is rewarding in many ways.

SCBD: What was a challenge you hit while building the International Space Station?

MU: Getting the material from the ground to space was a huge challenge. The material would way over 500 tons which is not easy to carry to space. We also currently use rockets powered by chemical engines now. In the distant future we will move beyond this and use nuclear rockets which won’t be as heavy. We need to keep working toward a space craft that uses fusion energy power (using energy that comes from the stars which also isn’t as heavy) in space.

PHOTO BY:Stephanie Blomkamp COPYRIGHT:© 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PHOTO BY: Stephanie Blomkamp
COPYRIGHT: © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

SCBD: What was one of your favorite parts of working in the International Space Station?

MU: It was an unforgettable experience to travel to places like Russia, Canada and other countries. It was great to see everyone unite to work on the project.

SCBD: How realistic is it for us to have a place like Elysium in the future?

MU: Whether it be in 50 or 500 years from now, a place like Elysium is possible. It would be a challenge for us to create a place that can recycle air and water but they currently can recycle 80% of it in today’s space station. They are also working on getting more plants cultivated in space.

SCBD: If Earth became as bad as it as it is in the movie, would Elysium be a better place for us?

MU: If we remain wise we can overcome our environmental issues so that doesn’t even happen but if we had to, yes. They are currently doing extensive bio medical research for the crews to see how the body adapts to an environment without gravity. In the movie, Elysium is built on artificial gravity to help the humans adapt to the weightlessness and may eventually be a real option.

Our crews are currently required to workout 2 hours a day while on orbit so their muscles remain strong. They also have the option to use the bench, treadmill, or bicycle during that workout.

PHOTO BY:Stephanie Blomkamp COPYRIGHT:© 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PHOTO BY: Stephanie Blomkamp
COPYRIGHT: © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

SCBD: What kind of food do they eat in space? How does everyone remain healthy while they are up there?

MU: They have all whole team of nutritionists and bio medical researchers constantly making sure they are provided all the nutrients they need in their food in space. They also have a wide enough menu to choose from while they are there. Because taste is dull while they are space, Tex Mex is most popular because they can taste the flavor in the hot sauces still.

SCBD: What should a person who is interested in working for NASA or a space station study to get there?

MU: In order to work on a space station you must study Science Technology, Engineering and Math. It’s also important to study and do research on different space agencies you’d like to work for. Decide what specific part of the agency you want to work for, study that academically and apply. They are always looking for new people to fill the positions but you must be up for the challenge.

SCBD: How did you get your start in NASA?

MU: I got my start back in 1984 and really had to work my way up to my position as Assistant Associate Administrator. It didn’t happen over night and anything rewarding takes a few years if not more  to achieve. It was a grand challenge for me and I do not regret my decision at all. I’m currently working on another International Partnership in France on fusion energy.

SCBD: What’s a motto you live by?

MU: Never, ever, ever give up. These challenges take relentless pursuit of time and dedication. Patience is a virtue.

SCBD: Last, do you see an Elysium in our future?

MU: Elysium is plausible in the future. I believe it’s part of our destiny to move into the universe.

PHOTO BY:Stephanie Blomkamp COPYRIGHT:© 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

PHOTO BY: Stephanie Blomkamp
COPYRIGHT: © 2011 Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Love science fiction movies like me? I know I cannot wait to see Elysium, so let me know what you think of Elysium via twitter @smchickbigdeals or leave a comment on the SCBD Facebook!

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#SCBDEvent Recap: Review with the crew at Johnny Utah’s, NYC

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About two weeks ago I had the pleasure of having the “Review with the crew” event which included seeing the Bar-Top Bandit’s at Johnny Utah’s in NYC. Our beer writer, Stephanie, her boyfriend Eric, and one of our new team member’s Alexandra joined me. Johnny Utah’s is a fun, country-themed restaurant & bar in the heart of Rockefeller Center.

review with the crew

We got in just in time before the Bandits started performing and decided to order some of their $5 margaritas, beer, nachos, and wings. We enjoyed all our appetizers– the nachos were the perfect side for all of us. We decided to try the BBQ wings and they were cooked to perfection and had just enough kick. After downing a margarita or two, I had the craving for Mac ‘N’ Cheese and it was probably some of the best Mac ‘N’ Cheese that I’ve had because it was so cheesy and not too heavy on breading. It was also the perfect amount.

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It was the perfect night out, filled with food, fun, and entertainment. I also got to interview, Theresa Fowler, ‘The Boss Bandit’ and got the dish on their performances at Johnny Utah’s every Wednesday and more!

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SCBD: When did the Bandits start?
TF: I created the Bar-Top Bandits in September, 2010 with childhood friend Everett Brothers. It started as a fundraiser for an amazing soldier, SPC Brendan Marrocco, who lost his arms & legs in Iraq. The event was such a success, it led to us helping out other local charities and organizations, which resulted in us expanding our show to what it is now!
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SCBD: Where do you perform?
TF: We have been touring the Northeast, rocking bar-tops from Times Square to the Meatpacking District in NYC, to Hampton Beach, NH & Asbury Park, NJ!
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SCBD: What should we look forward to at Johnny Utah’s?
TF: Killer Female Vocalists and Dancers from the Broadway stage to the iTunes charts performing in NYC’s Hottest Country Western Bar!
SCBD: What’s your favorite dish at Johnny Utah’s?
TF: Bandit favorites are “The Buffalo Bill,” “The Calamity Jane” Cubano, the Nachos, the Southern Hushpuppies and the Hot Utah Wings.
SCBD: The best cocktail?
TF: We’re whiskey girls at heart, but we hear Johnny Utah’s bartenders make a mean Blue Long Island! They’ve got the best staff around, and we have a blast with them at every show!
Bar-Top Bandits
SCBD:  What makes the Bandits different than any performers?
TF: The Bar-Top Bandits are a unique nightlife event with some of the most talented female performing artists in New York City. We are a boot-stomping, hair-flipping, bottle-tossing, girl-powered show with the hottest and most unique approach to nightlife entertainment. Not only do our Bandits have powerhouse vocalists and insanely choreographed routines, but they specialize in mixology and hospitality. Pushing liquor and beer sales throughout the show results in nightly revenue boosts for venues who book the Bandits!
Don’t have plans for tomorrow night? Make sure you go to Johnny Utah’s and see them perform. Also, don’t forget to ‘like’ the Bandit’s on Facebook, here.
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#SCBDExclusive: Interview with Abbey & Lindsay, Owners of Cake Couture NJ!

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Cake Couture NJ is a home-based custom cake company founded by two Jersey girls from my hometown of Howell, Lindsay Mauser and Abbey Lanz. Last time I was home I had the opportunity to interview them on the company, their cakes, and more!

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SCBD: How long have you been baking and cake decorating?

CCNJ: We’ve been baking as long as we can remember. We started getting into cake decorating by taking classes at Michael’s when they had them locally. Abbey received her degree in pastry from the Culinary Education Center of Monmouth County in 2011 where she performed in pastry competitions too. She’s always been more passionate about cakes rather than general pastry, you can see it in our work.

SCBD: Who came up with idea to start Cake Couture NJ?

CCNJ: We started making cakes for family about 4 years ago and then came up with the name and really started our business three years ago. When we first started it was Abbey and my (Lindsay’s) sister Erin but Erin wasn’t as passionate about it after a while so I stepped in and we’ve been successfully working together since. We feel that our cakes aren’t just any cakes so we felt that Cake Couture was the perfect name for us.

SCBD: What is special about your recipe compared to others?

CCNJ: Well, you can’t really compare us to any other cake or cupcake out there. We’re very creative and are constantly coming up with new recipes to try. We love coming up with new recipes for flavors we like.

SCBD: I’ve seen pictures of your cakes and the artwork looks so professional. How did you learn this?

CCNJ: We learned the most by doing it all the time and through trial and error. It’s all about finding the right temperature, etc.

21st birthday beer cake

21st birthday beer cake

SCBD: What’s a new flavors are you working on?

CCNJ: We are currently working on summer flavors, our latest creation is working on some summer cocktail cupcakes like margarita, and more!

SCBD: What’s the most popular cake flavor order you get?

CCNJ: Our vanilla with vanilla butter cream and red velvet with cream cheese frosting are our most popular.

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Cupcakes with faces of Aunt & Grandma

SCBD: What’s the most unique order you’ve had?

CCNJ: Our most unique order so far was for cupcakes with our client’s grandma & aunt’s faces on them. It took a lot of work but it was fun to do and rewarding at the end.

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21st birthday cake

SCBD: What was your first order? Who was it for?

CCNJ: Our first order was for a 21st birthday at a big banquet hall, we were pretty nervous but it was a success. The cake had pink quilted zebra print on it.

SCBD: What’s a quote you both live by?

CCNJ: “She who leaves a trail of glitter, is never forgotten.”

SCBD: What’s Cake Couture NJ‘s motto?

CCNJ: “Made with Love” which we always have on all of our orders and ”Edible Art For Magical Moments”.

SCBD: Where do you see Cake Couture NJ in five years?

CCNJ: We have high hopes and would love to be doing bigger events and have it turn into our full time job. We are looking forward to having bigger orders and to be in demand in the tri-state area. We are  working with the Ronald McDonald house on their event in May and donating a cupcake tower to their silent auction on May 19.

SCBD: Last, what do you want SCBD readers to know about Cake Couture NJ?

CCNJ: Nothing is impossible for us, we are willing to take any order. We take our time with every order and are very critical of our cakes. We do consultations and tastings for cakes for any event.

Harry Potter cake

Harry Potter cake

Make sure you like Cake Couture NJon Facebook  follow them on Twitter @CakeCoutureNJ! I’m definitely looking forward to working with them more because they have such a great thing going!

Cheers– let’s eat cake!

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#SCBDExclusive Interview with Executive Pastry Chef & Playing with Fire star Julie Elkind!

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Two weeks ago, E! premiered a new show, Playing with Fire which is based on the lives of some of the heavy hitter’s in New York’s culinary scene such as Candice Kumai, Anna Boiardi, The Koch twins, and Julie Elkind. With her drive and motivation at the age of 26, in four years Julie became the Executive Pastry chef for the ESquared hospitality group and  just recently took on the position as the Executive Pastry Chef at Executive Chef/Partner  Michael Ferraro’s Delicatessen in SoHo (see her intro in the show in the clip above). I spoke with Julie and we discussed life, her path to success, favorite dessert to make, new position at Delicatessen, and of course, Playing with Fire.

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SCBD: You’ve been doing pastry for a while now, who influenced you to get into it?

JE: It’s been in my family ever since I can remember. I grew up around some really great home cooks, we’d always be working on different projects in the kitchen. It’s amazing to do pastry for a living. I never really feel like I’m working because it’s a labor of love.

SCBD: In the show, Playing with Fire we see that you are always out to prove yourself, did this start when you were back in school?

JE: I was always great at Science & English in school. Math was never my strong point until I was able to bring it into pastry and use it everyday. I always felt like I had to prove to my parents that I could do well since they set such a high bar for me. The most important for me to prove something to is also myself. I am always challenging myself with new concept and ideas that the mainstream may not accept right away. I’m still always learning everyday and feel even as a veteran being in the industry thus far I still have to prove myself in the kitchen. I also think its important that people in the industry listen to the next generation of chefs and our ideas.

SCBD: Where did you go to school for pastry?

JE: I attended the Culinary Academy of New York which is now the Star Career Academy of New York. During my time there I learned a lot of basics and everything to prepare for my hands-on experience in the kitchen.

SCBD: When you started did you ever imagine you’d come this far?

JE: I believe when you start doing anything you love you want to come far and I always wanted to be a successful pastry chef. I never imagined the show would come about but I’m always making sure I am staying humble. In my opinion, staying humble is the key to the growing and creating process.

SCBD: What advice would you give to aspiring pastry chefs?

JE: Never rush yourself. A lot of my generation feel that they have this sense of entitlement that they will be a famous chef once they are out of school. It may look easy but it’s not, it requires time and must be a labor of love. They should be patient and keep creating their own ideas.

Also, I believe its important to never rush into a job that your not ready for. If you don’t think its meant for you, wait your turn and take a job when the time is right. That was some of the best advice someone gave me. Never be afraid to ask questions and never assume. Always use your commonsense especially in the kitchen. You gain your place and respect in the kitchen by hard work.

SCBD: At the young age of 26, you’ve gained so much success and recognition as a pastry chef and now with Playing with Fire. What advice do you have for millennials on the path to success?

JE: I am always giving my staff tough love as a manager but I always give them encouragement when they do something worth rewarding. I just want them to be able to teach other chefs what I taught them. Staying humble is key and you must believe in your own food or brand. Being a pastry chef is what I always wanted to do. I personally find success when customers are enjoying the food I create. I want my food to bring a sensory and memory connection to them that may not necessarily be a food trend. Any dish I make is something I am personally proud of and would not sell it if I wasn’t.

SCBD: On that note, congratulations on your new position as Executive Pastry Chef for Delicatessen in SoHo. What do you like most about the new position?

JE:  Executive Chef/Partner Michael Ferraro (Delicatessen) has the same style as me just on the savory end so it’s the perfect collaboration. It’s good to work with another chef that’s an equal because we work as a unit. When I took the job my instincts told me it was right and it’s been great to be respected by a fellow chef. It’s a great positive atmosphere because where I can grow.

SCBD: What is your favorite dessert to make at home? On the job?

JE: I love making ice cream and gelato because you can make tons of flavor combinations. I love coming up with new ideas, it’s the best part! I get butterflies when I change a menu because I am so proud and excited of my food. I am always checking to see what is in season by going to the local green market. I am alwayss painting a picture of a new dessert just by spotting a fruit or citrus I can use there. I love taking different flavor profiles on successful dishes rather than just using what worked before.

SCBD: Playing with Fire is really taking off, what should see expect to see from you this season? How does it feel to be part of this successful show?

JE: This season on Playing with Fire you will see what I did at the previous company I worked for to get where I am now. You will also see my constant balance between relationships, time in the kitchen, as well as my social life. You will see how it’s possible to have it all with the right people by your side. I believe you always have to keep pushing through even if you hit a speed bump. You will see how I handle bumps in the road but with strength and endurance I keep moving forward. You will get to know me personally and see some of my stressful moments at home and at work. New York City is a demanding city to live and work in. I don’t want to give too much away but you’ll have to tune in to find out more.

SCBD: Last, where do you see yourself in five years and what are some quotes you live by?

JE: If you asked me five years ago, I’d never imagine I’d be where I am now. I am constantly challenging myself and making sure I serve the best quality desserts. I’d love to work towards getting a James Beard award and being recognized by the James Beard Foundation for my work. I really aspire to be like the previous James Beard award winners who give back and leave a legacy, it’s a lifetime of work.

Since not everyday is the same, I just want to do great work and get recognized for it.

I actually have a few quotes I live by:

“Commonsense isn’t always common”, which I am always saying in the kitchen.

“Do what you love for nothing, and turn it into something”

“Never take a job for money or sell yourself short.”

“The only person who can judge you is yourself”

“Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid of anything.”

“Don’t knock it til you try it.”

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You can catch Julie on Playing with Fire on E! at 8PM EST on Friday nights. You can tweet her @JulieElkind & become a fan of her on Facebook, here. Don’t forget to follow Delicatessen @DeliNYC too!

Make sure you use #PlayingwithFire when you tune in! :D

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#SCBDExclusive Interview with Cheryl Burger, Owner of The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe

This summer I had the opportunity to stop by a bake shoppe I had heard about while I was in school, check out my initial post on The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe, here. One thing I love about it is that you always find the owner, Cheryl Burger at the shop working on her latest cupcake or cake pop creation and to greet new visitors. This year I had the opportunity to interview her where we discussed cupcakes, winning Cupcake Wars, and more.

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SCBD: When did you open The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe?

CB: February 5, 2010

SCBD: Your cupcakes are delicious, have you always had a passion for baking?

CB: I’ve always loved to bake, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would do it for a living. 

SCBD: What’s your favorite cupcake you serve at the shop?

CB: Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Buttercream, simple, delicious, it’s a classic!

SCBD: You are always thinking outside of the box with your flavors, what is the latest cupcake at the shop?

CB: Guinness Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream is the newest addition to our cupcake family.  It’s like an Irish Car Bomb, but in a cupcake! 

SCBD: You also have cake truffles that are great. How’d you come up with them?

CB: I found them online a few years ago.  They are bite sized and different.  People have gone nuts for them.  They are great to take to parties and during the Christmas season we shape them like Santa Hats and Christmas trees.  They are so cute!

SCBD: You are always doing community events, why do you feel it’s so important to be in touch and involved with the community?

CB: I was raised to give back.  I have volunteered for various organizations since I was a kid.  To be honest, it never occurred to me not to give back.  I am so fortunate to have the success I have had and I am honored to be able to share that with the community that supports me.

SCBD: Owning a bake shop, you are constantly baking different cupcakes, cakes, etc for different holidays. What’s your favorite holiday to bake for? Why?

CB: Christmas, without question!  It’s the ultimate baking holiday!  Besides all the options and great flavors that Christmas is known for, what is better than Christmas cookies?! I honestly can’t believe I get to bake Christmas cookies for a living, who could ask for anything more.

SCBD: You were on and a winner of Cupcake Wars this year. What was that experience like for you?

CB: The entire experience was surreal.  Just to be picked for the show is an honor, but to win is amazing!  After seeing the show I went there expecting to have my cupcakes ripped apart, but the judges were so kind and had so many nice things to say about my work.  I was blown away!  I am dying to go back, but no word yet.

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SCBD: Has it affected your business for better or worst?

CB: The first few weeks were great in that business was booming, but we had a really hard time keeping up with demand.  We are now properly staffed and able to keep up with the increased demand, which is really my priority.  More business is always great, but you don’t want to disappoint the people who have supported you since the beginning.

SCBD: Have your expectations in the shop changed since you’ve won? How so?

CB:  I have a pretty focused goal for what I want the shop to be, what I want The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe brand to be and how I want to grow.  I don’t think Cupcake Wars changed much, except that I’m meeting growth goals on a shorter timeline than I had originally planned.

SCBD: I am a young professional, what’s the best advice you got as a young professional, from who?

CB: My parents were extremely supportive of this entire venture and they reminded me constantly to stop listening to everyone who tells you that you can’t do something.  Not once did they question my vision or judgment.  It’s unbelievable the number of people who love to share statistics about small businesses failing, or question if you are qualified to do what you are doing.  Some of my own friends and family were and are skeptics.  You just have to ignore it.  Do what you know you’re good at and watch their jaws drop as you clear each hurdle.

SCBD: What advice do you have for the young professionals out there who are looking to start their own business?

CB: DO IT!  I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy, but it is worth it.  This is the time in your life that you can get away with the long hours and hectic lifestyle that comes with owning your own business.

SCBD:  What’s your life motto?

CB: “Look like a girl.  Act like a lady.  Think like a man.  Work like a boss.”

Thank you Cheryl for giving me the opportunity to interview you. If you are in New Jersey make sure you stop by one of my favorite cupcake shops, The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe in Chester, NJ. You’ll be in for a treat!

In honor of the #SCBDAnniversary last week, The Sweet Spot Bake Shoppe has agreed to do a cake pop giveaway! Want to enter? It’s easy just become a fan of Small Chick Big Deals on Facebook and our 200th fan wins a dozen!

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