Pilot Shop Virginia
Carla Hesseltine says she’s just a girl from Virginia Beach who brought her cupcakes to New York City.
But the owner of Just Cupcakes in Virginia Beach has competed on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” four times and has been named one of the best cupcake shops in the country.
On her most recent trip, she didn’t have to compete. And she had to keep reminding herself she wasn’t in danger of being kicked off the show.
Food Network invited her to bring her treats to the New York City Food and Wine Festival’s culminating event: a backyard barbecue with celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon on Oct. 16.
She wanted to do something to represent her home state of Virginia, so she made bourbon bacon chocolate cupcakes.
The bacon is from Smithfield, and she wanted to tell that story.
Bacon is in the cake, but also sprinkled on top.
“New Yorkers love Southerners, ” she said.
The idea to add bright pink pigs as a garnish was a game-time decision — she thought the cupcakes needed a finishing touch.
It was gratifying to see people enjoying the cupcakes, she said.
Even Bobby Flay made a point to come over and get a cupcake from them, she said.
The kicker: It was the first time she’d made that kind – and they were a hit.
She attributes it to quality ingredients, baking fresh, and delivering the “out of the ordinary.”
She even has a focus group in Virginia Beach that tests the cupcakes before she sells them.
“It has to be the best cupcake you’ve ever had, ” she said.
She wanted to bring something decadent — but also appeal to people who may not be fans of bourbon.
In addition to the 1, 200 cupcakes, she made about 500 s’mores cake pops — because they were more child-friendly, and another few hundred cookies.
They were all gone by the end of the day.
To get everything done, she and her team made some in Virginia Beach, before she left, and some when she got up there. She rented a house — through AirBnB — across from Pier 92, where the event was. She finished the baking there, and it took forever, she said.