Las Vegas’s most daring cupcake-makers have been on a roll since I first tried their wares. But Dec. 11 marked the biggest achievement yet for the ladies of Pick Your Poison Bakeshop. Taryn Mumpower and Robyn Holt made their national television debut competing on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. I had a chance to talk with Mumpower, after the show aired.
Can you give us a quick history of Pick Your Poison. Where did the idea come from? How did you meet? Why did you think you two could work together?
The idea came from a night out drinking downtown while bar-hopping. Cupcakes randomly came up, and our drunken banter envisioned this idea of creating alcohol cupcakes. We met because we have a mutual good friend. I have a culinary degree and Robyn has a business degree, we figured we’d put those two together and learn from each other’s strengths. We’re both hard-working broads who love a challenge. Game on!
How has the company grown since then?
Since June when we launched, PYP has grown so much. We fuel ourselves with copious amounts of coffee and bake like crazy. We have formed close relationships with Sailor Jerry Rum, Studio 21 tattoo, the Royal House and La Cave, to list a few.
Whose idea was it to try out for Cupcake Wars? Why?
Of course it was mine. The reason I went to Le Cordon Bleu is because I always said, and I quote, “I want my own cooking show, and I’m gonna call it Taryn Up the Kitchen.” (That was the 18-year-old fresh out of high school). I love Food Network and love a challenge even more. We’re a brand-new badass company ready to fight, so why not put ourselves out there and gain exposure right off the bat?
Did you think you were going to win? Were you happy with the result (2nd place) or do you think you should have won?
We went in as the underdog. We haven’t even been in business for a year yet, and we’re competing on a national level. I’m so competitive. I wanted to take the whole thing. Obviously I wasn’t happy with the result. I believe we should’ve won. We baked our asses off and created one-of-a-kind flavors. Hopefully a redemption round will be in our future.
What cupcakes were you happiest with? Which ones did not turn out as you had hoped?
The green-bean casserole [made from a choice of Christmas-inspired dishes on which we were asked to base our cupcake] is amazing. It is uniquely delicious with the sweet and salty balance, and it shocks people every time with its deliciousness. The Drunken Yam was also amazing. It’s actually one of my favorites. The Jack Daniel’s honey kicks it up a notch and enhances the cupcake. The Orange Cranberry didn’t turn out as well as we’d hoped, but when you’re on a time limit you have to think fast.
Is the emphasis on the display element fair? It seems like that might have hindered you in the final round. (In this round, in addition to baking 1,000 cupcakes, the contestants are required to create an idea based on a theme that a builder then makes into a display, on which the cupcakes are then rested.)
The display is part of the final round, and they judge that as well. I can’t say it’s unfair, but it does suck that it may have cost us the win. We baked cupcakes,and envisioned this display. We couldn’t help what came out. I still loved our display, though: It was colorful and inviting. (The display for the Hollywood Christmas Parade had a sleigh and Christmas trees.)
Do you think you and Robyn were portrayed accurately?
I think we were portrayed accurately to a certain extent. If you know me and Robyn, we cuss like sailors, so we had to hold that back, which was hard at times because of the stress levels. I think everyone wanted us to come out and be those bitchy girls from Vegas, which isn’t us at all so I’m glad they portrayed us correctly—and stayed classy.