Food Tour Partner Profile – Alberta’s own Crave Cupcakes
by Matilde Sanchez-Turri
Jodi Willoughby (left) and Carolyne McIntyre-Jackson (right) are sisters and co-founders of Crave Cupcakes. They’re one of our guests’ favourite stops on our Craving Kensington in Calgary and we are proud to have them as a food tour partner. Raised on a ranch near High River and trained by a long line of home bakers and strong rancher women, Willoughby and McIntyre-Jackson are putting smiles on people’s faces the same way their mom, aunties and grandmother did back home on the ranch. To celebrate our longstanding friendship with such a sweet food tour partner, we thought it would be fun to share five things you might not know about Crave Cupcakes:
1 – All their baked goods use REAL, high quality ingredients
Though many bakeries have resorted to the practice, there are positively no cake mixes used in any of Crave’s stores (they have five in Alberta and one in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan). Crave’s bakers rise early each day to make everything from-scratch and on Valentine’s Day they start at two o’clock in the morning. It’s their busiest day of the year.
Baking from scratch means that they crack about a 250,000 eggs by hand each year. They use 70 tons of freshly milled Alberta flour in a year and they use 400 pounds of Foothills Creamery butter per week per store. They support several Alberta small farms and every month they try to feature locally grown products in their cupcake of the month. Innisfail Growers is on speed dial. This is where they source carrots—from Innisfail Growers’ member Beck Farms—to make their famous carrot cakes and zucchini and berries—from Jungle Farms.
2 – They love to teach you their secrets
You can learn how to make that signature Crave swirl on your very own cupcakes or create a watercolour cake with guidance from a pro decorator in their 7D Quarter Circle Kitchen. In 2014, to celebrate their 10th Anniversary, Crave renovated their original Calgary store in Kensington and added a classroom to honour their ranching roots, naming it after their family’s brand – 7D.
3 – Their Mom still pitches in.
If you see a smiling little white-haired woman at one of the Crave locations during busy times of year, be sure to say “Hi” as it’s probably Willoughby and McIntyre-Jackson’s mom, Helen. She’s very supportive and still helps with all kinds of tasks including baking and packaging, that is, when she’s not teaching line-dancing or travelling the world.
4 – They only sell goods that are baked fresh each day.
Day-old products are frozen and donated to charities throughout the province by volunteer drivers. Though the company name speaks only of cupcakes, they’ve also become quite famous for their cakes, pies, cookies, and that very Canadian sweet known simply as “squares.”
5 – Their caring goes beyond what comes out of their ovens.
Helping establish the HER Collective, Willoughby and McIntyre-Jackson work closely with other entrepreneurs, change makers, inspirers and creatives to host unique and cost-free opportunities for young women ages 14 to 18 to connect and learn. Bound by values of kindness, community and learning, the HER Collective is inspiring the next generation of great thinkers and makers.
Willoughby and McIntyre-Jackson are just two of the hundreds of food artisans to be featured in the upcoming book, Food Artisans of Alberta- Your Trail Guide to the Best of Our Locally Crafted Fare, set to launch on June 26. Look for it across the province this summer and let it be your travel guide to the best tasting Alberta summer ever.