In her latest action adventure drama starring herself, Hollis Wilder gives an award-winning performance of a lifetime in her role as…Miss Holly, founder of Sweet! By Holly a majorly successful cupcake and confection shop in Orlando, Florida thoughtfully preparing thousands of decadent cupcake minis each day. With piping bag and Kitchen Aid mixer at the ready, Hollis sets off on yet another adventure to face the perilous world of cupcake-eating humans and to champion the dangerous trenches of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. In pursuit of introducing the world to her cupcakes through the simple flavors of her childhood, she tantalizes our taste buds and courageously inspires others to escape the evils of dullness of life-as-usual.
This movie is rated:
Super Yum !
What the critics are saying…
“awe inspiring…this cupcake just sings!” Candace Nelson, (Founder of the world’s first cupcake bakery Sprinkles Cupcakes, and judge on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars)
“I’m speechless…this is one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had on the show!” (Florian Bellanger, Owner of Mad Mac’s Chefs, and former executive pastry chef at the world-renowned Fauchon, and judge on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars)
“Hollis gives a dazzling and fearless performance by simply being herself. Her dirty-blond hair is wild from adventure and you wonder from whence she came. Yet, she displays stunning vulnerability. It doesn’t take much for her striking water-blue eyes to well up into tears. Her humanity translates onscreen and off resonating with audiences everywhere.” (Marisha Rodriguez, Rekindle Magazine)
Though the life of Hollis Wilder is not literally a blockbuster movie, at least not yet, one might think so when reading her life story. A wife and mother of two, self-taught chef with nearly 30 years experience, caterer for world-famous Hollywood celebs and politicians including The Jacksons, Tom Cruise, and Jay Leno to name a few, founder of her own company Sweet! By Holly, and now two-time winner of one of The Food Network’s number one rated show Cupcake Wars…and you get the feeling she’s only just begun.
I interviewed Hollis on the phone Feb 24, 2011:
A Chef Serves Her Way to Hollywood
Rishy: Was a career in food a no brainer for you, or did you consider other careers?
Hollis: I really wanted to be an actress and that was not happening. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t know myself. Now I know who I am. I’m not afraid of who I am. I thought I had to change who I was when I moved [from LA] to Florida, and I decided I needed to completely embrace who I am. The things [about myself] I thought perhaps were not working are exactly the things I am being embraced for right now; my vulnerability, my ability to jump in and out of my emotional self and at the same time be a business person, be focused, get the job done, tell the truth. The reason I’m so emotional is because it’s a life-long journey and not knowing where it’s going to end up.
Rishy: Was letting go of the dream of becoming an actress a sort of surrendering?
Hollis: I let go of the grandiose idea; the grandiosity of wanting my face on a big huge billboard on Sunset Boulevard. I wanted to be the next “it” girl. I let go of my idea of being seen on the other side of the camera, because my job was clearly to be of service. At the end of the day, I’m in a position to be of service, and that’s it! My job is to give back by doing what I’m supposed to do [with whatever is] in front of me to do, and that’s how I say, “thank you.”
Rishy: Did giving up the “grandiose idea” happen in one moment or was it a process?
Hollis: There was a sort of big bang. I went to a party and realized I would have to sell myself, sell my soul almost, do things I wouldn’t want to do in the direction of what I wanted to build in my character. Through irony really, the food is the one that has driven me, has saved me, given me direction, and has centered me as a person.
Rishy: You were an experienced chef in LA long before you became known for the cupcake in Florida. What was life like in LA?
Hollis: I met [television producer] Max Mutchnick and he called me and said, “I need a chef.” I went and made this outrageous lunch for Max and all of his writers. That was the beginning of it…it blew up. What I created along with Max was for the writers and creators of the television shows to be treated as family. They worked sixteen to eighteen hour days and they often got food that was from drive-thrus. I replaced that with sit-down buffet, pressed linen napkins, china, silverware, and food like you would have at a wonderful party, something warm and welcoming for them. I did that for nearly ten years.
Rishy: You’ve had a very impressive line-up of clients; Celebrities like Demi and Bruce, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Annette Bening and Warren Beatty, Jay Leno, The Jacksons, The Rolling Stones and Mikhail Gorbachev. Who has been your most memorable client and why?
Hollis: I would say the relationship I developed with Max. Through that relationship I developed all the other relationships that I had. One relationship that was most genuine and loving was probably Jay Leno. His wife was lovely; they were just great, really down to earth, really wonderful people.
Food Network’s Cupcake Wars
On her latest Cupcake Wars appearance, Hollis had judges Candace Nelson and Florian Bellanger literally swooning over her cupcake triple threat: a ginger cupcake with a lime butter cream zested with fresh lime and topped off with fresh mint and opal basil, the next, an almond cupcake in a raspberry glaze topped with Swiss meringue and a stack of two almond sponge cakes also drizzled with a raspberry glaze, and finally, a gluten-free chocolate scented with cardamom, chocolate butter cream dusted with dark chocolate, and then a spun sugar handmade bird’s nest with a jewel encrusted bird’s egg. We were all swooning.
Rishy: How did you hear about the opportunity to be on Cupcake Wars?
Hollis: The Food Network called me. The way that it works is whenever The Food Network comes up with a new concept they do searches on internet. For instance, they [search] Orlando and say, “cupcake companies” and whatever pops up that strikes their fancy, they call. They asked me to send in a tape. I said to them, “I was a chef and had my own company and worked for most of the celebrities in LA for 20 years and now you’re calling me…when I live in Florida?” How random is that?! It was bizarre!!
Rishy: How did you prepare yourself for the show?
Hollis: When I knew I was going to do the competition, I really ramped up working out with my trainer. What I would do when I was working out with him was put the competitors in front of me, thinking about them the entire time working out, and how I was going to just win…with a smile on my face, but completely focused. It‘s also really important to take away as much drama as you can out of your life.
Rishy: Did you know you’d win both times?
Hollis: No, I didn’t know I was going to [win], I’ll tell you that! But I knew I certainly wasn’t coming home not winning! There’s no way!
Rishy: What do you think set you apart from the other competitors?
Hollis: I think it was very helpful that I have a savory background, I really know flavors and food…I think I have a really good tongue! The other thing is that I think I have a really good ability to listen. When the judges say this is what they want, I really listened. It wasn’t about here I am on television, how cute I can be, what am I going to wear…it was about what do they want. It went back to being of service. If [your client] wants turkey roasted breast, that doesn’t mean that you go to the deli and buy roasted turkey breast. That means that you roast the turkey in your oven, and you slice it, and then you deliver it to the client. That’s what my job is. When I was a chef in LA working for all those industry people, my job was not to have an ulterior motive so that I could be an extra or face in one of their shows. If my motivation was that, I would never have gotten as far as I did. I just did my job. I would hire people to help me and I would say to them, if you give [my client] a script or ask for a job, I will fire you on the spot. And I did it with two people!
Rishy: What did you learn about yourself being on the show?
Hollis: The funniest thing is that when I was little, I was not competitive. I wasn’t a risk taker. I found out I am very competitive. That word can be negative, but the drive [for me] is really I’m the only me that there will ever be. So my job is to get very busy being the best person I can be. So…why not me? Why not you?
A SWEET! FUTURE
Rishy: Why did you move to Florida to start your company Sweet! By Holly after so much success in LA?
Hollis: [In Florida] I can be a part of a community that’s building something, it’s a community that has so much more opportunity to show and shine itself. Los Angeles is fabulous and I love it, and miss it, and would love to live there again. However, in a community like Orlando, Florida where I am being recognized in this way it’s really incredible…I wouldn’t be recognized this way in LA because I’d be just another pretty face with a cupcake shop.
Rishy: What’s uniquely special about your cupcakes at Sweet!By Holly?
Hollis: When I started out my company they were Texas Jumbos and classic size, but now 85% of my business is the mini cupcake; that is a two-and-a-half bite cupcake. Three minis is the size of a classic cupcake but what I’ve really gotten there are three different flavors. They are thoughtfully created because they’re made with olive oil and egg whites instead of butter and whole eggs. When I got busy creating the flavors, I didn’t say, “Oh well I can’t afford to do that so I’m not going to use it.” I didn’t even think about the cost. We make thirty-eight flavors a day and those flavors and quantities are consistently there, regardless of whether or not the people come.
Rishy: What’s next?
Hollis: I’m working on a book that I’ve been asked to do. It’s a huge project; it’s going to be great!
Rishy: After cupcakes, what do you predict will be the next food trend?
Hollis: It’s going to be savory cupcakes.
(Since our 2011 interview, Hollis went on to win a third time on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars officially deeming her “The Cupcake Queen.” Her cookbook Savory Bites : Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan published in the Spring of 2013 and is available wherever books are sold. She opened a second Sweet! By Holly shop in Jacksonville, Florida.)
For more information about Hollis Wilder visit her website:
To watch more Hollis Wilder videos, visit my YouTube channel RishyCup TV