BELLINGHAM - Even though they knew the end result, watching the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" on Sunday, Oct. 7, was still an anxious experience for Neal and Katie Swanson.
"With the music and the way they cut the scenes, it was nerve-wracking to watch," said Neal Swanson with a laugh. "But it was still a lot of fun and a nice celebration."
Katie Swanson's Fairhaven bakery, Katie's Cupcakes, was the winner on the season premiere of the popular television show, which typically draws more than a million viewers across the country. Katie Swanson and her baking assistant, Kelsey Shafer, competed against three other bakeries to come up with the best cupcake flavors and display to garner the $10,000 prize.
Katie Swanson sent in an audition tape in May and flew to Los Angeles for the event back in July, so they were contractually obligated to keep the results under wraps for quite some time. Perhaps the most difficult time to keep the secret was in the final week, when the community found out the Fairhaven bakery would be on the show.
"The reaction around town was amazing; so many people were talking and asking us about it," Neal Swanson said. "I guess a lot of people were happy to see a Bellingham business get this kind of (television exposure)."
The show itself was a bit of a whirlwind experience for Katie Swanson as she went through three rounds to determine the winner.
"It was quite a rush," said Swanson. "I thought I was going home after the second round. It was more a relief when I made it to the final round."
In watching the show, Neal Swanson said they were happy with how the episode was put together. Hearing the compliments from the judges was also great validation about the business, which was started in 2009.
Katie Swanson took Monday, Oct. 8, off to be with family and enjoy the moment before jumping back into the bakery and creating the cupcakes seen on the show for her customers. Cupcake flavors made on the show will be available at the shop Saturday, Oct. 13. Swanson is asking customers to call 24 hours ahead of time to place orders. The bakery also is hosting a private viewing party at the Mt. Baker Theatre on Friday, Oct. 12, that has already sold out.
The company also is launching a second business. Katie's Cupcakes now offers a line of T-shirts and in November plans to release a series of children's books based on its own cupcake characters. Details about the products can be found at the bakery or online at wearcupcakes.com.
Katie's Cupcakes, which specializes in gourmet cupcakes baked from scratch, is at 1005 Harris Ave. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. More information about the bakery can be found at katiescupcake.com or by calling 360-393-4632.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2269. Visit his business blog online at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/business or get updates on Twitter at twitter.com/BhamHeraldBiz.