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1832 – 1943
As she ventured on a wagon-train with her belongings and her mother’s recipes, she is where our history begins. But we do know that some of these recipes do date back further than the 1830’s (as they did belong to her mother). We will start our history with Elizabeth Wilkenson
Nancy “Minnie” Arthur-Hess
1869 – 1954
Nancy Arthur-Hess started to work in 1885 for Powerhouse Gas & Electric as the lead baker/cook for the employees of the company. This picture was taken of “Minnie” standing in front of Camp 27 in Trinidad, California. It has been documented that she used her mother’s and grandmother’s recipes to aid in preparing those meals.
Hazel Hess-Crabtree -Wilson
1891 – 1978
Hazel, pictured here at the age of 15 in front of Camp 29 where she prepared the meals for the same company as her mother, Powerhouse Gas & Electric north of Eureka, California. At the age of 16 a little company called Pacific Gas & Electric bought Powerhouse Gas & Electric. She had two children, Clara & Mable. Eventually she moved to southern California where she worked for See’s Candies (which is where she came up with the recipe for our Chocolate Frosting. When you taste it you will think... "This reminds me of something, I just can't put my finger on it". Amazing, we have been known just to sell the frosting by itself, it is that good. Later she went to work as the lead baker at the Hotel Constance. Later, yet, she opened her own restaurant.
1909 - 1993
Grandmother, Mable was recruited & worked for the Valley Hunt Club in Altadena. In 1931 she was sent to the Casino on Catalina Island where she was part of that original team that brought food into the Casino. After her she she was known to dance the night away with the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Fred Astair, & other entertainers of that “Golden Age of Hollywood” era from the 1930’s through the mid 1940’s.
1930 - 2019
My mother, Alice, pictured here in 1946 in front of her parents, my grandparents’ restaurant called the “Students Inn Café” in Fortuna, California. My mother learned from the best to cook/bake from her Great-Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Wilkenson; her Great Grandmother, Nancy "Minnie" Arthur Hess; her Grandmother, Hazel Hess-Crabtree-Wilson and her Mother, Mable Crabtree-Thomas. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Pictured here with my mother, in 1958, it is at this age I made my first peach cobbler. My Great Grandmother (Hazel Wilson, whom I lived with... along with my Mother, Alice from the time I was 3 until I was 5, then spent every summer with until I was 13; whereupon she moved from Altadena to our city in Santa Cruz, CA. My Great Grandmother Wilson would have me push a chair (so I could climb-up) to the spice cabinet which was above the breakfast table, she said now "notice how the spices are kept... in alphabetical order this is so you can find them easier the next time you need them". This is is how I began learning my alphabet. Allspice, Basil, Bay Leaves…
Five years after getting married Walter and Lisa Brighton had their first daughter, Stephanie. In 1983 we see (pictured above) Stephanie assisting her Mom make Sweet N' Sour Meatballs. Stephanie was the families latest bloomer within the baking world, she didn’t start baking until she was 5 years old. At this age, Stephanie was assisting Mom in the kitchen with everything from cleaning out the tips from the pastry bags from the numerous cakes her Mother (Lisa) was making. She was also wanting to learn to make a complete dinner on her own. It was during this time she and her imagination came up with some fabulous and some "not" so fabulous dishes such as raw peeled potatoes with green Jello on top. Hence, this is how we learn. I, as her Mother would not have missed this for the world.
Connie follows 6 ½ years later. Their girls (Walter & Lisa), as in generations past took early on into working their way in and around the kitchen. Pictured here in 1988 at 3 years old, is little Connie Brighton, making a salad for the family dinner. Little did we realize at that time, Connie would be the Executive Baker at Starz Cupcakes. She was and has been a natural in the kitchen. Her ingenuity has taken our recipes far and away to the numerous flavors we have today. Our family history may have been the launching pad but her drive and dedication has taken this beyond our expectations. One would almost think it was in her DNA.
Robbie & Michael Garcia
The year is 2009, Starz Cupcakes opens their doors, Stephanie's sons (Walter & Lisa Brighton's grandsons / Connie & Travis's nephew's); Robbie Christopher, age 5 and Michael Edward, age 3 are already volunteering to be the official "tasters" for Starz Cupcakes.
It is now 2020, we moved from Santa Cruz, CA to the San Joaquin Valley where we have moved away from our "brick and mortar" stores and respecting the "social distancing" which is required as we make it thru this pandemic to taking orders via Facebook, text msgs, and on-line. A new generation is showing signs of wanting to learn their way in and around the kitchen.