Born in Brooklyn in 1980, Allison Robicelli worked in restaurants and as a caterer for years before starting her own business. She and her husband Matt launched a gourmet foods and sandwich shop in 2008. While economic difficulties led them to close that shop, the pair spun off their popular cupcakes into its own business. In 2013, Robicelli and her husband published their first cookbook, Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes.
Early Life and Career
Born on August 1, 1980, baker and blogger Allison Robicelli grew up in Brooklyn. She is of Italian American and Norwegian heritage. One of her early food experiences was attending Sunday dinner at her paternal grandmother's house. As she wrote on Medium.com, these gatherings included "a minimum of 13 adults and 2 for a sit-down dinner" and her grandma fed "the lot of us a minimum of three courses in which there was so much food, not only did you leave stuffed, you left with a doggie bag."
Robicelli started out in the food business more focused on the savory side of things at first. She worked as a catering chef for several years, but she was no stranger to sweets. While learning to be a chef, Robicelli ran a cake business out of her parents' house. She later was a pastry chef for a time.
In 2005, she met Matt Robicelli, a fellow food industry veteran. The pair started dating and soon got engaged. Allison and Matt married in October 2006 and welcomed their first child together, son Atticus, the following March.
After years of working for other people, Allison and Matt Robicelli dreamed of opening their own food business in Brooklyn. They launched a gourmet foods and sandwich shop in 2008. Unfortunately, the Robicellis saw the store start to flounder quickly because of the financial crisis that happened just a week after they opened. "We had one weekend of incredible success, followed immediately by the stock market crash of 2008 that transformed the main street of our neighborhood from a vibrant thoroughfare into a spooky ghost town," she wrote in Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes.
Queen of Cupcakes
The Robicellis struggled financially to keep their store afloat. In 2009, the couple added to their family with the arrival of their second son Toby. Allison spent much of her time at home looking after the couple's two children while Matt ran the shop. After a customer requested a carrot cake, she returned to the kitchen and her pastry roots. "We wanted to make good cake, but people don't really buy full-sized cakes very often," she told Food52.com. They decided to focus on cupcakes instead. "It's awesome cake you can eat any damn time you please."
After deciding to close their store, the Robicellis focused their efforts on their cupcake business. They developed quite a following for their unusual favor combinations, including the highly popular chicken and waffles cupcake. Customers also appreciated their commitment to substance over style. The bakery uses quality ingredients and avoids flashy food elements like food coloring and fondant.
In 2012, Allison Robicelli showed that she was more than just a popular food personality. She helped spearhead relief efforts in Brooklyn after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. As she explained to the Serious Eats website, "If people need help, I'm going to help them, and I'm not going to wait for permission. I don't know if it's the Brooklyn in me, or the food." Robicelli used her family's Bay Ridge apartment as her command central, making sandwiches and collecting goods to be distributed to those in need. She earned the "Star of Brooklyn" honor from Brooklyn Spectator for her charitable work and for her contributions to the community.
Allison Robicelli's star in the food world continued to rise. In 2013, she and her husband released their first cookbook, Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes. Allison also competed on the popular Food Network show Chopped that same year. A talented writer, she wrote about her experience for Medium.com and served as one of its contributors for a time. The Robicellis also opened a new bakery in their Bay Ridge, Brooklyn neighborhood.
With her husband Matt, Robicelli continues to look for new ways to bring interesting tastes together in her treats. During the summer of 2014, she unveiled cakudding, which brought cake and pudding together. Robicelli still loves her cupcakes, though, and believes that they will never go of fashion. As she told Epicurious.com, "Cupcakes are delicious, period. Everyone loves them, but suddenly something is the 'next cupcake' so we shouldn't be eating them anymore? Does anyone realize how utterly stupid this all is?"
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