April 17, 2013
Florida Hospital's Gourmet Soiree: Dining to a Healthy 100! gets cooking at 5:30 p.m. May 19 at Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek resort. Chef Robert Irvine, host of Food Network's "Restaurant: Impossible," will be on hand, challenging guests who will don aprons and prepare their meals using prepped ingredients and portable cooktops provided at each table. Tickets are $250 per person and proceeds help fund Florida Hospital initiatives. For details, check out FHGourmetSoiree.com. In the meantime, let's dish: Cake topper. Orlando's Hollis Wilder is the queen of cupcakes (not that we have had too much doubt with her track record on the Food Network). Last weekend, she returned to "Cupcake Wars" for a fan-favorite baking battle and won the $10,000 grand prize and the opportunity to serve her cupcakes at a celebrity-packed charity gala hosted by guest judge Lance Bass of 'N Sync. In 2010, two years after Wilder opened Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly cupcake and yogurt store in Orlando, the Food Network asked her to be a contestant on its "Cupcake Wars" competition series. She won twice and soon after was filming the pilot for "Cupcake Confidential," a reality show on the Cooking Channel that followed three cupcake entrepreneurs at different stages in their careers. Wilder's first cookbook, "Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan," arrived in bookstores this month. The premise is about "living life in portions," and she is determined to use her success to help fight obesity one portion at a time using the classic American cupcake pan. I love the book because it suits any lifestyle or household. It's a great addition to a home library for teaching children how to cook and it has enough panache to keep the gourmand in the house well-fed. "I wanted to have a long-lasting relationship with the classic American cupcake pan but shake things up a bit at the same time," says Wilder. Her turn on savory cupcakes redefines mealtimes, including festive brunches and tailgates. I can see these small bites inspiring creative cooks to rethink how they pack lunches for school and work. A former private chef to an impressive roster of celebrities including Jay Leno, Warren Beatty and Kevin Costner, Wilder now is a star in her own right. And her cupcake empire is expanding. She recently opened a Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly in Jacksonville. By the way. Wilder couldn't have had a better sous chef. She was assisted by Emily Ellyn, our local retro-rad finalist on "Food Network Star." Today at my blog, OrlandoSentinel.com/thedish, look for Wilder's recipes for Vermont Chicken Pot Pies from "Savory Bites" as well as Matinee Idol Cupcakes, Jalapeno Shrimp Popper Cupcakes, Priceless Cupcakes and A Star is Born Cupcake from "Cupcake Wars: Fan Favorites." The competition sweets are labor intensive and I have included a few home-cook shortcuts, but as Wilder likes to say often when she competes: "Go big or go home." I just want to go to Wilder's home when she's creating new recipes.