New Times: Where were you born and what brought you to Orlando
Larry Bach: I was born in the USSR in 1944 Near the city of Tashkent in Uzbekistan. My parents were Polish Jews who escaped the extermination of most Polish Jews by having the good fortune of being sent to Siberia as political prisoners. They were allowed to return to Poland (with me) in 1947. We were able to emigrate to Israel in 1949 and we ended up in the NYC in 1952 to join my father's family who had come to the US before the war.
My parents, sister and I moved to Orlando in 1959. I was 15 at the time and went to high school in Orlando (Boone) and on to the University of Florida. I got a degree in Advertising. By the time I was drafted I had decided that I did not want to spend the rest of my career in that field. After serving in Vietnam, I took advantage of the GI Bill and got a second degree in Building Construction from UF in 1970.
How did you get into cooking?
The two years that it took to get my second degree were spent living with five roommates in a house. None of them wanted to cook. I agreed to shop and cook and they agreed to do all the chores including dishes and laundry.
The cooking became a game and I got very interested when I saw how easily I could impress members of the opposite sex. I didn't get married till I was 33 which gave me a lot of time to practice and learn. This was way before the food channel so you can imagine that I have quite a collection of cookbooks. I continued my cooking through the years because my wife and I enjoy entertaining.
It is not unusual for us to have a gathering in excess of 30 people and to prepare all the food ourselves.
Since your college years, your career has taken a couple of turns. How did you make the transition from general contractor to buying a bakery?
Once I decided to leave my construction career someone suggested that I try a food related business. A friend who was a business broker told me about Sprinkles being for sale and I took a leap. I have not regretted the change.
I noticed that your Twitter name is "Sprinkles Man". Is this your nickname? If so, where did it originate from?
We have a customer base that exceeds 4,000 names. When people see me outside the store they usually recognize me but don't remember my name. So the will say something like, "You're Mr. Sprinkles," or "You're the Sprinkles Guy." So I adapted the name "Mr. Sprinkles" when I introduce myself. On twitter it was not available.
What kind of sweets did you try on your recent trip to Shanghai?
The Chinese don't seem to have a sweet tooth. I was very surprised by what I thought were cookies actually being savory and containing meat.
What is your favorite dessert?
As a baker I should not be admitting this but I can't resist real Gelato. When I am asked to bring a dessert I usually make a NY cheesecake with raspberry jam on top covered with a bittersweet chocolate garnish.
What is the weirdest kind of food you've tried?
In China frog ovaries. I do not recommend you to try it.
The cupcake frenzy really took off in New York and then over in California, when did the trend finally catch on in Florida?
I think that The Sprinkles Cupcake people who opened a shop in Los Angeles started an instant frenzy throughout the US because of the great publicity they were able to generate.
We heard Tori Spelling ordered some of your Cake Shooters for her daughter's birthday, what did you make for her party?
Confetti cake with pink colored icing.
Tell us, about the inspiration leading to creating Cake Shooters.
At the time we were making what we called dessert shots. These are tall but thin glasses filled with layers of cake, filling and icing. When I saw the clear container it was not a big jump to see how it would be basically the same thing with the added features of being able to seal the top with a cap and to be able to push up the contents directly into the mouth without having to use spoons, forks, plates or napkins.
How did it feel to get a birthday wish from NASA via outer space?
I am very proud of my son, a biomedical engineer, who works for NASA. Part of his job is to communicate with the astronauts in space about their physical wellbeing. When I got the call from one of the astronauts, the space station was over Africa. At the end of the conversation, it was almost over China. Most of the conversation was about how great a guy my son is. It's a great feeling to have that contact with a real space station, which was merely science fiction when I was growing up.
If you're in the Orlando area you can stop by Sprinkles' storefront or you can place an order online to have Sprinkles delivered to you: www.cakeshooters.com.
Sprinkles Custom Cakes is located 501 West Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park FL; 407-622-7202; www.sprinklescakes.net.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.