Remember a few years ago when cupcakes became the thing to give and get? That was Candace Nelson. Nelson is the co-founder of Sprinkles, the gorgeous cupcake chain that took the world by storm and made cupcakes cool again. But Nelson’s accolades don’t stop there. She also founded Pizzana, a Neo-Neapolitan pizzeria in Los Angeles. At Sprinkles and Pizzana, Candace's approachable, nostalgia-inducing desserts are on display, reflecting her enterprising vision for sweet and savory ventures that resonate with guests.
Internationally recognized for her prowess with pastry, Candace is an executive producer and judge for the new Netflix baking show “Sugar Rush” and the host of “Live to Eat,” a food-focused podcast debuting on the Dear Media network in spring 2019. She previously served as a judge on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars. Candace is a dedicated philanthropist, a long time supporter of Baby2Baby and a founding board member of LAXart and founding member of Dia Women.
What's life like after Cupcakes! CN: Rest assured there are still plenty of cupcakes in my life! But it’s been fun to explore the greater dessert world in my role as the executive pastry chef at Pizzana. On the Pizzana menu, I go beyond the cupcake, reimagining classic desserts with a modern Italian twist such as salted caramel pannacotta and chocolate olive oil sheet cake. It’s been incredibly gratifying to work alongside our executive chef and master pizzaiolo Daniele Uditi to bring our shared vision for PIzzana to life and we’re thrilled to be opening our second location in West Hollywood this June.
What's on the horizon for you? CN: The second season of Sugar Rush is debuting on Netflix this July and I just launched a podcast inspired by my obsession with food called Live to Eat. I interview culinary personalities, chefs and food entrepreneurs about their passion for food, their earliest memories of eating, and their dining and cooking routines. Find it on Apple or Spotify!
What are you most excited about with your podcast? CN: I created Live to Eat because regardless of location or background, food is something that connects us all. Whether it’s a Sunday dinner at home with the family or a multi-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant, it brings people from all walks of life together around a communal table. My podcast is that virtual communal table. And having the opportunity to sit down with people whom I admire and take a deep dive into their personal journey is a gift. I’ve been so inspired by the people I have had the pleasure of interviewing and I know others will be too.
You're behind some cult favorite foods and restaurants, what the secret sauce? CN: My sweet spot, so to speak, is working with foods that people already love and elevating them to something special. At Pizzana, for example, we’ve rethought the pizza experience from beginning to end to create our Neo-Neapolitan pies. Executive chef Daniele Uditi’s "slow dough" is meticulously prepared with organic, stone ground Italian flours and allowed to ferment for a full 48 hours, resulting in a crust that is light and crisp, with great chew. Our tomato sauce is made with San Marzano DOP tomatoes grown specifically for us on a farm in Italy and our fior di latte cheese is also from Italy, shipped in fresh twice a week.
What are you most excited about cooking this summer? CN: My favorite thing about summer produce is that it’s so perfect there’s very little cooking involved! It’s really more about assembling! Think a platter of gorgeous crudités with some romesco and pesto to dip; a fresh salad with juicy tomatoes tossed with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and salt… beautiful berries with a cloud of whipped cream sweetened with a touch of honey.