Candy's Confections, located in the Old Fannin Mart in Brandon, is a haven for sweet teeth. The store is home to cakes, fine chocolates, cookies and other baked goods, rows of bulk candies, such as jellybeans, and a "candy bar" with numerous choices for (non-alcoholic) candy-inspired drinks. With its lime- green walls and brightly colored accents, Candy's Confections could make anyone feel like a child again.
Storeowner and baker Jim Stewart, 54, an Ohio native, has a jolly sense of humor. His passion for baking confections is evident through his dedication to the quality of work he produces.
Tell me a little about your store.
We are a very unique entity in that we are a candy store, a cake bakery, we carry a line of fine chocolates (and) gift items. We also do birthday parties on site for kids. We do some catering. We do a lot of baked goods that are for sale daily. So (we're) a pretty diverse situation for a retail shop. We're not just a bakery; we dabble in a little of everything if it's a confectionery.
How did you first get interesting in baking, and in this line of work specifically?
I've been cooking for probably 40 or 45 years. It started as a necessity. I spent some time in the restaurant business in the '70s and '80s, and stumbled into this location. We came in July 1st of '07, took it over and have been going at it ever since. It was just a neat concept. We came in and saw what the potential was. It was a great set up—it just had to be stocked up with someone to own it. I had been looking for an opportunity to again have my own business, and it presented itself and I took advantage of it. We weren't at he time really looking specifically for anything, really.
What type of work goes into making the cakes and candies?
There's a lot of preparation, there's a lot of planning. You have to know what's coming up and be prepared for the holidays. All our cakes are custom made, for the most part, so we've got to get up early to make the cakes. We've also got to have a fair amount of lead time. We're not a cash-and-carry set-up.
What's the most unusual wedding cake you've ever made?
We did an Oriental-themed wedding cake once. It was three-tiered with cherry blossoms and Chinese writing. Groom's cake is a different story, though. We've done 3-D armadillos and mallard ducks.
What is your favorite wedding cake you've made?
That's a hard question. Probably one we did a couple years ago. It had alternating tiers of brown with large white polka dots and white with large brown polka dots with a contrasting ribbon around each tier.
What the difference between making a wedding cake and any other sort of cake?
Construction. You have to make sure that wedding cakes are level and that their stacks will hold each other up. You have to structure them inside and know where to structure them. If you stack six cakes on each other with no support, they'll crush each other.
What else can you tell me about wedding cakes?
There are two different kinds. Stacked wedding cakes use different size layers of cake, while tiered wedding cakes have long separators between the layers.
Wedding cakes aren't as formal as they used to be. Some of them are airbrushed these days, for example. It doesn't matter how it looks, if it doesn't taste good.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite part is when we've done something for someone and they come in and we get the "ooh"s and "aah"s and "it's beautiful"s and "we love it"s.
Girls squeal and shriek and mamas cry. That's when we've done it right; that's the best part. Or when someone takes a bite of something we've made and you see their eyes roll back in their head because it's so good.
What do you think makes your store unique?
Well, we're not a chain. The people that work here care about the customers. It's a very bright, colorful, enjoyable place, and that's what we want to keep it. We like the personal involvement with the customers and knowing who our customers are and developing that relationship over a period of time.
How did you get first started with making cakes?
It was a hobby, basically. Just out of a love for doing it. I enjoy doing it. I enjoy creating stuff.
Have you always wanted to be a baker?
Not necessarily this specifically, but I've always wanted to be involved in the food service industry. This is the fun part of it. It's a lot less stressful than operating a restaurant.
Did you go to culinary school?
Chateau de Mawmaw. Most people don't get that. I have worked with people that have sixth-grade educations and could cook their tails off, do anything they want. I've also worked with some people that had all kinds of five star diplomas from all different culinary schools that couldn't boil water without screwing it up.
It comes to the passion for the food, a passion for the creative process.
1149 Old Fannin Road in Brandon
Shopkeep Owner: Jim Stewart
Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday 601-992-96-23 or http://fatcakeguy.com