Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Tale of Two (Cupcake) Cities...

Some cupcakes for the Camp...
When I first went to New York for college orientation, there were the typical events: ice breakers, class scheduling, new friends, and of course the obligatory trip to Magnolia’s Bakery, a minor institution in the West Village at the time.  The pilgrimage down Bleecker Street was the first of many that I’d make for the beloved cupcake, a childhood treat that I was tasting in a whole new light.  Little did I know what I had gotten myself into.

Moving to Paris meant leaving behind New York, Magnolia’s, and the flood of other cupcake boutiques that had begun to open as the trend boomed.  But Paris was not without its share of butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Cupcakes weren’t exclusively a New York item, and in 2010, fancying myself a journalist, I began a quest to interview the cupcake bakers of the City of Light, an endeavor that brought me to the likes of Alisa Morov, Synie Georgulas, and Cat Beurnier.

After the article didn’t get picked up by any papers – favoring instead a less comprehensive albeit adorable article, but I take no offense – Cat emailed to ask me what I thought about a new idea in Paris.  She wanted to take cupcakes and make them social, to build a community, and to raise money for charity.  Riding on the coattails of the successful San Francisco-based Cupcake Camp, a derivative of the Bar Camp model, she asked me to organize it with her.  The fateful February 25th email read: “Okay I may be going out on a limb here, especially since I know you are working on so many different things but I wonder if you wouldn't want to come on-board as an official co-organizer?”

Hard at work with friends...
As a young expat with few friends, the prospect of building a community around cake was a no brainer.  The answer was yes.  After a grueling inaugural event in the summer of 2010, Cupcake Camp Paris was back this past Sunday, the second edition was bigger and better than we could have ever imagined.  Along with our third organizer Nicolette, another cupcake enthusiast, well over 400 people descended on Le Comptoir Général by the Canal to purchase, taste, and share over 2200 cupcakes.
Inside at Cupcake Camp Paris 2011...

Between the contests, the prizes, and the sheer number of adorably decorated cupcakes, the two hours passed like lightning.  It was a whirlwind of English and French-speaking cupcake lovers, new faces, people I had only ever conversed with by email, and a slew of devoted friends who lent a helping a hand during the entire day.  That young expat a year ago without a community suddenly found himself surrounded by one – even if they were hopped up on sugar. 

By the end, people were still walking in from the street, asking if they could buy that last salted caramel cupcake or if there were any chocolate ones left.  Participants lined the Canal with their white boxes full of cupcakes, enjoying the last rays of the late summer sun.

Once the crowd left and the clean up crew came in, Cat, Nicolette and I shared a glass of beer at the end in the now-empty venue.  We had raised roughly 5000 euros for the Make a Wish Foundation, money that would go towards fulfilling the dreams of terminally ill children.  Community. Charity. Cupcakes.  Let’s do it again sometime, shall we?


  1. good job - nice number to raise for make a wish!

  2. You guys did a brilliant job. Would have loved to read your article about all the bakers back in 2010 but I think you've made a name for yourself by being involved with this charity event. Bravo!

  3. You 3 did an amazing AMAZING job!!!! And in the years since you've been here - you are now known and loved.

  4. It was indeed a job well done and I am not sure if the sugar from the cupcakes is out of my bloodstream yet :)

  5. Aw!!! I am so so glad cupcakes brought us all together!

  6. Well done! I'm so sad to have missed the camp, Bryan.
    Please have another soon!

  7. Thanks thanks...round 3 next year if all goes well...:}

  8. I would love to be apart of this when I'm back next year! Would love to help anyway I can :)