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Daily Inspiration: Meet Courtney Corey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Corey.

Hi Courtney, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have loved cooking for as long as I can remember. My most fond childhood memories are rainy days spent in the kitchen with my mom cooking soups and stews in my Great Grandmother’s heavy cast iron dutch oven. I grew up in Upstate, NY where my family owns and operates a garden center. It was on the rainy days when the plants didn’t need to be watered that we could spend time inside cooking. I’m sure my love for rainy days goes back to those memories. But my love for food? I think it stems from its inherent ability to bring everyone together. Food makes people happy and that’s what makes me happy….bringing other people joy.

My career choices have always seemed to stem from my love of food. In 2007 I graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Applied Economics and Management. Having wanted to open my own restaurant, I quickly enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After graduating with a degree in Culinary Arts, I started my career in hospitality. Over several years, I worked my way up from a Restaurant Supervisor to my most recent position, a Catering Sales Manager. While I loved helping people plan some of life’s most important events including weddings, baby showers, birthdays; I missed cooking. On days when I felt stressed, I often found myself wandering back to the kitchen or the “heart of the house” as we called it in industry terms.

I am forever grateful for the amazing chefs that I’ve worked with and learned from throughout my career. I always felt like they truly understood my need to be creative. On stressful days (and there were lots) I would get up from my desk and find my way to the kitchen where chef would let me help make cavatelli pasta, garnish desserts, or chop some carrots. Being in the kitchen was what I always needed to de-stress and ground myself. And needless to say the other cooks were always surprised that a “sales girl” had some pretty good knife skills.

Although I enjoyed sales, I always wondered “what if.” What if I had pursued cooking? What if I had started my own restaurant? What if?

Exactly one year ago today that “what if” become my reality. On March 18th (I still remember it like it was yesterday) my coworkers and I were furloughed due to Covid-19 and I became one with the “what if.”

It was my boyfriend (and my cats) who consoled me for several days and then reminded me, in his level headed and calm way, that this could be the time to start a bakery business. I had always baked for everyone I knew. I often surprised coworkers with cupcakes. I would bake for my neighbors and they always told me everything was delicious. I loved hearing their compliments.

To fill my days, I poured myself into anything I could to stay busy. Much of that included taking care of our yard which had sadly been neglected as a result of my many long hours spent at the hotel. One day, I was mowing when I looked up at a scraggly bush in the corner of our yard and right in front of my eyes was the cutest little lime I had ever seen and on further inspection, there were tons of them! I plucked off as many as I could and headed for the kitchen to make some fresh and tangy key lime curd. That very key lime curd, turned into key lime cupcakes, which became one of my first and most popular cupcake flavors. I suppose that the moral of the story is, when life gives you limes, make key lime cupcakes!

Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Many people bake to de-stress. But baking professionally? Now that’s stressful!

Although I do have a degree in Culinary Arts, I am not a trained Pastry Chef. Make a four course dinner with an amuse bouche? Sure! Make a two tier cake…SCARY!

Much of what I have learned has been from my mom, watching the Food Network and many hours of YouTube cake decorating videos. I can not even tell you how many nights I laid awake after reading articles about how fondant absorbs moisture…worrying about the cake I had just decorated and if the cake wold absorb all of the humid Florida air and turn into a puddle.

As we all do, we all learn as we go. I research, I learn, I experiment and I grow. We all have our challenges and our struggles but in the end we learn from them and move on to make bigger and better cakes.

We’d love to learn more about your work. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I enjoy baking but I love decorating. Decorating is where I get to express my creativity and my favorite clients are those that come to me with a general theme or even just a color palette and tell me to do my thing! Although I started primarily with cupcakes, I now make specialty cakes, french macarons and cake popsicles. While I will always adore cupcakes, I love that cakes give me a larger surface area to customize. Having grown up seeing flowers bloom in the greenhouse, I love incorporating fresh flowers whenever possible.

And for me, while the overall design of a dessert is extremely important, flavor will always be paramount. Culinary School provided me with a great base of understanding when it comes to balancing flavors and all in all, its about overall attention to detail whether in design or in flavor. Be it adding a splash of fresh lemon to balance the sweetness of american buttercream or ensuring walnuts are perfectly toasted and lightly salted for a carrot cake, these are the details that I believe make a difference. I always send my birthday cakes off with a gold candle and cupcake boxes are wrapped lovingly with ribbon that matches the design of the cupcakes.

What matters most to you? Why?
For me, the most important thing will always be the people. When I create desserts for someone, I am able to be a part of their most special celebrations and I feel honored to be a small but sweet part of them.

Having had a career in hospitality, we were always taught to “exceed expectations” and this has just inherently become a part of me. I am not embarrassed to say that I have looked up a client or two on social media to see what their likes or favorite colors are so that I can incorporate them into their birthday cake. I’ve delivered baby shower cupcakes with a flower arrangement for the expecting mom. On pickup days when I happened to be making cake popsicles, I’ll package one up for a client to enjoy on their drive home. Making people happy is what makes me happy and it is the major reason why I love baking.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lifelong Photography Studios

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