Ace of Cupcakes
Zoey Devall of Bee Sweet Cupcakes, a boutique cupcake bakery on Magazine Street, serves up from-scratch treats with nostalgic appeal.
Photographed by Cheryl Gerber
Zoey Devall, owner of “gourmet cupcakery” Bee Sweet Cupcakes, started her business in October 2008 and had her shop up and running just over a month later. The youngest of 13 children, Devall mixes her love of family with a little sugar and spice, creating one of Magazine Street’s sweetest new businesses.
At the shop, Devall works with her best friend, Audrey Whisenhunt, and her sister Amanda Peoples, “Chief Cupcake Officer,” about whom she tells this story: “My sister was eating one of our all-natural ‘pupcakes’ –– our dog cupcakes –– for lunch when a customer walked in while she was eating it and started to laugh. … [Amanda] looked up and said, ‘Don’t worry; they won’t make you bark!’ The whole store started laughing and several customers requested to try personally the canine treats.”
Devall’s dearest baking buddy, however, is her son, Aidan, 4, whom she describes as the light of her life. “I have always loved baking and have loved the bond I created with my son each week as it became our special activity together.”
Opening a bakery was a 180-degree career move for Devall and one based on her heart’s desire. Formerly on the opposite side of the frosting front, Devall worked as a lobbyist for the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society, but she wanted a career that would afford her more time to spend with her little one, friends and family. (And the widely known truth is that the cupcake is nature’s perfect food.)
“I am obsessed!” Devall says of her medium. “I love cupcakes so much I quit my job to make them every day. I have so much fun being able to have more time with my son and do what truly makes me happy professionally and personally. My philosophy is to create a cake that is made from scratch that transcends people back to a simpler time when the world was less complicated.”
Bee Sweet, a small bakery, is equipped to manage up to 1,000 cupcakes a day, each made from scratch, expertly frosted and sprinkled with just a little love. Orders are currently booming as orders roll in for debutante balls and Mardi Gras tableaus.
Devall’s cupcakes are, of course, beyond ordinary, not just for good flavor but also for the ingenuity of the recipes and design. Fun cupcake names such as The Chubby Elvis, a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting; The Drew Brees, a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and M&Ms; and Kickin’ It Old School, a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, pay homage to pop culture and friends in Devall’s life and correspond to carefully honed recipes designed by old-fashioned trial and error.
“Baking requires patience,” she says. “We sample the finest chocolates, dairy, vanillas and all types of ingredients to ensure that our customers truly purchase a gourmet cupcake unlike anything else you can buy.”
Drawing from family recipes, Devall began experimenting in the kitchen, altering flavors and spices from classic concoctions to reflect what she calls “modern palates.”
Some flavors, she says, took more than 20 practice recipes to perfect. “I felt like a mad scientist,” she says.
Of her best-loved varieties, Devall says, “I love the strawberry [You Tart] on days I want something fresh and light, love the Chocolate Manic Attack for the days I need a pick-me-up.”
Devall and the women at Bee Sweet have plenty of new flavors in mind for the coming months. The Uptown Girl, a favorite of Devall’s, will feature a raspberry-and-cranberry cake topped with lime-and-Cointreau-butter-cream frosting. Also on deck is the That’s a Hecht of a Cupcake, a dark chocolate cake topped with frosting containing white chocolate, coconut, sea salt and fresh basil. “I could eat that cake every day!” Devall says.
If only everything in life could be this sweet!