Ever just get pulled deep into the dark underworld that is known as the Instagram explorer page? The explorer page usually finds similar pictures based off of your likes and displays them for you in a linear layout. My explorer page usually consists of dogs, booty models, memes and food. A few months back I came across a picture of a beautiful array of sweets and I was like hmmm. I clicked on said picture and it took me to a woman’s page that I will soon not forget. @miriamhope is Miriam Hope Rieder, and this chick CAN BAKE. Miriam is a blonde, stylish, twenty-something who is very easy on the eyes and is a sweets whiz. Miriam is the owner of two sweet shops in Connecticut, one in Avon and one in South Windsor called Taste by Spellbound. I went to the South Windsor location one day, got myself a CADBURY EGG BROWNIE, and dropped off my card to one of her minions and stated that I’d like to interview her, a couple weeks later Miriam and I had our own little sit down in the storage room of her Avon location and I was given the chance to get a little glimpse into the life of this sugar queen. I also got to taste my way through some fantastic stuff, so shall we?
Hello Miriam, how are you today?
I’m great, how are you?
I’m good. First question, what ultimately got you into baking?
I started baking when I was ten years old after my parents got a divorce, I was put into parks and rec cake decorating classes and that’s pretty much what got me on the path. My mother was always in the kitchen baking so I’ve always been in that scene and I’ve always known food, but it was definitely the cake decorating classes that reached me.
What’s behind the name ‘Taste by Spellbound’?
I started Spellbound back in 2009 with hair accessories, because I love fashion, and when the food thing took off five years ago I had already had a following behind Spellbound and didn’t wanna lose that and it kind of kept this fairytale vibe that I had doing on so we decided to call it Taste by Spellbound. Because I have bigger plans for the brand; clothing, food, lifestyle, furniture – all that kind of encompasses together.
What’s up with all the style? What drew me to your instagram was not just regular cupcakes and that B.S., but there was all kinds of amazing sweets and also you seem to have this stylish air about you. Where do you get that from?
I get part of it from my mother, my mother is very fashionable, and so I’ve always kind of had that very well groomed aspect I guess for part of my life, and I’ve just always been a very creative person and been trying to separate myself from the, not common bakery, but all the other bakeries. So the way we present ourselves via food style, we’re always just setting ourselves apart.
Two high profile locations doing well, what do you lend your success to?
Sleepless nights, haha. I have amazing people behind me that believe in me. For one, Elvis Duran, he’s one of my biggest cheerleaders so anytime I get to go on his show that always gives us a really huge boost via our online sales and even walk-in. And I’ve just been able to create a great bubble of people around me to help lift it, and then my team is very much part of the success.
What is your favorite thing to bake?
I don’t have one. A lot of people ask me that, they say what is my favorite thing to bake and favorite thing to eat – um, it really doesn’t even come down to that I’m just constantly creating that’s what I find most interesting.
What are you eating when you’re not here?
I love food! I mean like I could literally be 10,000 pounds. I love food. I honestly, I don’t have favorites. It depends on what mood I’m in, where I’m at, what city.
One thing I’ve noticed, is that you use an ingredient that’s very near and dear to my heart that you can only get on Delta flights… Biscoff biscuits! What, how, why?!
I started working with Biscoff, I feel like I was one of the only bakeries in the U.S. to be honest to start working with it, and I’ve been working with it for at least four years probably. Like when it was just being introduced to the U.S. more so, besides just the Delta cookie. I ate it at home on stuff and I loved it, and then I was like ‘Wait a minute, why isn’t this in the bakery?’ And now we use it on a day to day basis.
In a world of TV shows like ‘Cupcake Wars’ and all that typical B.S. and all the hype that surrounds it, where does Taste by Spellbound stand? What sets you apart from the regular cupcake shop?
Our quality, for one. We use no cake mixes, we use no shortening, we try to always stay away from flavorings. A lot of people, once you’ve been on a show like that, your popularity goes through the roof and your quality comes way down. And it’s those giant cupcakes where you feel like you’ve ate breakfast lunch and dinner, and it’s just like overload. We’re much more about enjoying yourself and enjoying the real taste and all different aspects that come to that. So definitely quality and even the way we present ourselves. We decorate our cupcake toppings, we change our flavors out every single day so you don’t know what you’re gonna get. We have people who call and say ‘We want a dozen assorted cupcakes for Friday, what are you gonna have?’ and we don’t know. You will just have to come in and find out. So that also very much sets us apart. Yeah I would say flavors. Flavors, product wise are just very much different than your common bakery.
What’s next? Anything new and exciting in the works for you right now?
I’m kind of just on.. I don’t really have anything new right now. I’ve had my second shop open for eight months right now and that’s really just what I’m focusing on. That’s my baby right now. I have learned to take it day by day, and while I do have big dreams for the brand, I try not to think too, too far ahead because then I go crazy thinking ‘Oh my goodness, how am I gonna get there?’ So as of right now I’m just focusing on the shops and making sure they’re running smoothly. So when the next step does come, they can handle themselves.
Who would you like to thank, recognize or shout out?
My mother, she is like the biggest push behind me. Without her I would not be here, obviously, but even mentally like everything. My family, my sister, my step-dad... My sister runs my South Windsor shop for me. My staff is huge, they’ve become some of my closest friends and they’re basically family to me now. And then just the customers that come in day in and day out and support us, and who have always been there for us and keep us going for five years now. And YOU! For doing this interview.
Miriam let me taste a few things and everything was excellent. First were the Cruffins, I’m going to make an educated guess and say that these are probably croissant muffins and they were tasty. Kind of like a doughy muffin, kind of like a cronut. I liked both Cruffins equally. Next were four assorted truffles, afternoon delight, firecracker, campfire and chubby hubby. I’ll just go ahead and say that campfire was my favorite because there was marshmallow in it.
Next were the cupcakes. I’ve eaten my weight in cupcakes in my day, probably more and I can say that these were some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever consumed in my life. All were great, but I can easily say that the peanut butter caramel cupcake was the BEST cupcake I’ve ever had. The glob of peanut butter that lay inside made me tingle. I had brought this one home and ate it and I had to stop myself from grabbing the keys and driving back to Avon to get five more.
Stop in one of these days and check her out, I failed to mention Miriam also specializes in cakes for all occasions and they are a sight to see. Join me next week when I make a stop into Townsman, Boston MA, to eat a dinner/brunch combo with master chef Matthew Jennings.