For all our readers with a penchant for cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, cakes, and a weakness for all things wonderlicious, news of the latest sweet treat on the street is out: Wonderland Bakery is opening a fairytale retail cart at Fashion Island July 1!
Wonderland’s whimsical retail cart will be located at the koi pond in Fashion Island and will offer signature sweets, specialty items and bakery merchandise.
Having never been to Wonderland Bakery, Chris insisted that I visit the boutique and original location in Newport Beach.
“I can’t believe you’ve never been to Wonderland Bakery before?” Chris said flabbergasted.
“There are quite a number of things I haven’t done, Chris,” I replied sarcastically. “My bucket list is impossibly long.”
“Well, you can check this one off right now,” he continued. “Just wait until you see this place. Wonderland is quite a magical experience and will make you feel like a kid again.”
“Really? Like a kid again, huh?” I asked with curmudgeon-like skepticism. “We’ll see.”
We left the office and made our way to the first Wonderland Bakery. During our drive, Chris regaled me with details about Allyson Ames, the young chef and inspired entrepreneur behind the Wonderland franchise.
“The locals adore Allyson because she was born and raised in Newport Beach. A culinary prodigy, Ames started cooking at age five and was named The Best Young Chef in America, at seventeen.”
“That’s quite an accomplishment,” I acknowledged.
“That’s nothing!” Chris exclaimed. “After attending the International Culinary Art Institute of America, she opened Wonderland in 2005. Since then, she’s been awarded the Teen Merit Leadership Foundation Award, the Entrepreneur Business Program Scholarship Award and is the only person ever to receive the Orange County Business Journal’s Up and Coming Woman of Excellence in Business Award. She’s apprenticed with the Culinary Olympics in Germany and received the American Culinary Federation National Championship Award. Not to mention, she’s the Official Sweet Ambassador of Newport Beach.”
“How old is she?” I asked incredulously.
“Only twenty-four. She’s quite an entrepreneur and philanthropist,” Chris stated.
“You’re not kidding,” I agreed. “I’m looking forward to this excursion, more and more.”
We arrived at the bakery and I examined the storefront. I don’t know what I expected, but nothing prepared me for the visual feast that lay before me. Standing at the threshold of tempting treats, I stepped inside and was magically transported to my enchanted garden of childhood, Candyland-dreams.
“Wow,” was all I could manage, taking in the fantastical, sweet-inspired décor throughout the boutique.
“Now you understand why local celebrities like Kobe Bryant, Whoopi Goldberg, the mayor, and others across the nation love it,” Chris smiled.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” I gawked. “It’s like something out of Willy Wonka. I’m expecting to see Oompa Loompas come out from behind the kitchen door any second.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” Chris laughed, just as the kitchen door swung open.
Bearing no resemblance to an Oompa Loompa, but wearing the cutest Wonderland apron and a giant smile, Sondra Ames, Allyson’s beautiful mother and business partner, greeted us with incredible warmth and hospitality.
“Welcome to Wonderland Bakery,” she said, extending her hand.
Chris introduced us and started regaling Sondra with the fact that I’d never been to the bakery and how he felt compelled to rectify this sadly lacking state of affairs with an immediate visit.
“Well then,” Sondra turned to me with an impish grin. “We’ll simply have to give you the grand tour.”
She guided me to the window case displaying all the various frosted sweets for which Wonderland is known nationwide.
“Here we have our delicious desserts—whimsical iced cookies, cake pops, cupcakes, brownies and other yummy treats,” Sondra pointed out each delectable design. “Obama’s inaugural cookie and the MLB All Star game cookie are logo-inspired and digital cookies are very popular. In fact, Disney had us digitally design Tim Burton’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ tea party cookie last year. Of course, the plain shortbread, for cookie decorating, is great for all ages. Both young and old love making one-of-a-kind cookies.”
“How fun! Will your fairytale cart feature that?” I asked.
“Absolutely,” Sondra stated. “We’re emphasizing it. Parents can bring their children for cookie decorating parties by the koi pond, teens can pick up decorating kits to take home, and what better way to enjoy a fun and memorable dessert than after a movie or date night? We think everyone will enjoy Wonderland’s fairytale cart.”
My attention shifted, focusing on the most adorable stuffed animal.
“That’s our animated Allyson Wonderland Bear by GUND,” Sondra explained. “She reads the beautifully-illustrated, read-along storybook, Wonderlicious, that inspires young girls and boys to follow their dreams.”
Sondra picked up the beribboned bear and handed her to me. The plush little bear began telling the sweet and inspirational story of Chef Allyson Ames and Wonderland Bakery. I utterly melted.
Chris and Sondra both saw the look in my eyes when I glanced up.
“I think she just found a new home,” I smiled. “Now, when can we come decorate some cookies?”