CC Made: Sweet Success
Cassandra Chen spent her early childhood years in Shanghai, China and watched her grandmother prepare elaborate, traditional Chinese Feasts. Meanwhile, her mother, who was also an exceptional cook, refused to make the same dish twice. Cassandra found herself working in the World of Finance after college where she felt unfulfilled. She wanted to do something with her life where something was “being created and making people happy.”
Even though she never dreamt, thought, nor was interested in the Culinary World, Cassandra left the financial industry and spontaneously walked into the popular and always busy Fog City Diner. She inquired about working in their Kitchen where they thought her background was best suited in management. Unfettered by their response and determined to land a kitchen job, she waltzed into the highly regarded Vertigo restaurant in the Transamerica building. Dressed in her high heels and business attire, Cassandra asked the manager of Vertigo if she could work in the kitchen. The manager told her if she could handle the strains, stress, and challenges in the kitchen, then she could have the job. Cassandra was given the standard culinary uniform, and had to use saran wrap to prevent her pants from falling down. Running around in her high heels, sweating profusely, and torching the Creme Brulee, Cassandra assisted wherever the Chef needed her. By the end of her shift, she was utterly exhausted in her first experience in a professional kitchen. The adrenaline rush of the Culinary World was a perfect match for this young upstart.
In the late 1990’s, Cassandra quickly moved up, out, and for Traci Des Jardin’s new restaurant called Jardinière. While working on the Pastry Line, Cassandra met her husband who was working as a Sommelier. Ready to start a family, this couple wanted more regular hours and time with their young children. Cassandra helped her husband with his new and thriving Computer Consulting company. However, she missed the excitement of working in the Kitchen, so she took on painting the house, making reusable shopping bags to sell at local stores, and making Caramel Popcorn for holiday gifts. Friends often commented that for everything Cassandra made, she should create her own line of “things” called CC Made. Cassandra tinkered with the idea before honing in on her popular Christmas gift, the Caramelized Nut Popcorn. Within three years time, Cassandra progressed from her home kitchen, to a shared commercial kitchen, and now holds the lease to Cafe Fanny’s commercial kitchen with her beloved staff of 14 employees.
As with all CC Made products, they are made by hand. Her staff or as she likes to call them, her family, has been with her from the start (2010), and often, setting even higher quality standards than Cassandra. CC Made makes 3 types of Caramel Popcorn: Pistachio, Spiced Almond, and the Classic. Cassandra’s personal favorite is the Spiced Almond. Customers first wonder where the spiciness is, but then after a few seconds, the cayenne pepper hits its stride.
Cassandra’s favorite sweets are Caramels. She spent quite a bit of time working in restaurants to develop the perfect textured and tasting Caramel. Cassandra followed up her popular Caramel Popcorn with soft, hand-rolled pieces of these sweet sensations. Cassandra admits her disdain for factory made Caramels and feels they are often hard, artificial, and gets stuck to your teeth. CC Made packages the Caramels in small containers, because each piece is meant to be savored. The two Caramels offered are soft and rich in flavor: the Himalayan Sea Pink Sea Salt and the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.
CC Made’s Caramel Sauces are her most recent product line. As often the case when cooking, an accident turned into a successful product. Cassandra accidently made her Caramel too thick, but when she melted it down, it became her signature Caramel Sauce. Now, CC Made makes Sel Gris and Dark Chocolate Caramel Sauces.
CC Made Caramel products can be found online and in specialty stores such as some of the Dean and Deluca stores, Bloomingdales in Florida, Bi-Riite Market and Creamery in San Francisco, Farmshop in Santa Monica, CA as well as many other fine food places across the country. Cassandra Chen’s sweet success is making people happy by creating Artisan Caramelized treats.