Sugar and spice and all things nice!
I know many people aren’t comfortable yet venturing out to try some of the great local restaurants Cleveland has to offer. This blog will hopefully tell you a bit more about Ann and why her classes may be a perfect fit for your family or loved one during these times.
I first became aware of Ann LoParo several months ago when I was searching for a unique way to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mother who lives in Columbus, more than 2 hours away. We both love to cook and I happened upon a message from Annie’s Signature Sweets announcing COVID-19 friendly cooking classes and luckily she was holding one on Mother’s day! Not only that, but it was a cooking class on how to make homemade marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate ganache.
Throughout the class, I was blown away by her calm and approachable teaching method that was both informative and relaxed. It was a far cry from other classes I had taken in person from Sur La Table. She was genuinely interested in getting to know us as people and as her students which led to a real connection with my family. And just like that, I was sold on her business and all the fun classes she was teaching.
Ann is a first time business owner and has been teaching her classes (normally held in the Hildebrandt building pre COVID times) since 2018. While she didn’t know how her classes would be received by the public, Ann was a renowned pastry chef who wanted to have that connection with her customers, vs being back behind a kitchen, and thought this was the perfect way to do it. Her first year yielded 32 clases and her second year jumped to 100 classes with 75% of her students taking 5 or more classes. So far by March 2020, her classes were already at 40 and the upward trend was continuing until COVID -19 hit and live classes were no longer an option. Her business started out primarily as catering with a smattering of classes and by 2020, it was primarily teaching classes with less time for catering.
She knew that most of the students came for the experience of the class and not necessarily to be a better baker. So with COVID-19 shutting down her normal operations, Ann figured out the technology to bring the classes virtually to her loyal students. Shortly after her first zoom class, Ann’s classes were covered by Cleveland.com and then by Country Living magazine. This exposure led to students buying her classes worldwide: India, Philippines, California, Hawaii, Canada, Utah, New York and many more. Against all odds Ann was able to reach more students than ever before.
Ann is a self proclaimed carb and dessert eater, #runsonsugar, that styles her classes so people can feel like baking isn’t as hard as they thought and they are user friendly for any baking level. In fact, she was almost 30 before she made her first pie and her pastry teacher told her to think about another career. Thank goodness she kept on trying and now is so comfortable in the kitchen that she no longer “stays in the box”. She loves to play with flavor combinations and find out what works together. She now embraces what was scary and hopes that translates to her students.
Favorite classes as voted by her students include: Flourless tortes, Cinnamon rolls, Tarts and Macarons.
Plus, Ann also is featuring summer camps for young students still at home. I was lucky enough to sit in on a class with a group of teenage girls in NYC and it sounded a lot like this:
“Wait what do I do now?”
“Should it look like this?”
“I forgot to set my timer.”
All while Ann patiently waited and coolly answered all questions with ease. Nothing seemed to ruffle her and her calm demeanor provided confidence and kept everyone relaxed. I highly recommend you try out one of her classes (or more) while you are staying at home and close to loved ones.