Candace Nelson is one of our foodie idols. As a Los Angeles-based food entrepreneur co-founding Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery, and most recently, Pizzana, a Neo-Neapolitan pizzeria in LA’s Brentwood community, she’s inspiring to say the least.
Candace is a food glow goddess. Creating one of the most iconic cupcakes brands on the planet, she knows how to create nostalgia-inducing foods in an elevated way. She’s done it again with her newest venture Pizzana, and created yet another magical spot to delight your taste buds.
Candace initially pursued a career in investment banking, yet following the dot-com burst she shifted gears to attend pastry school in SanFrancisco and reignited her childhood love for baking. Combining her business background with her passion for perfecting classic desserts, Candace, along with her husband Charles, founded Sprinkles cupcakes in 2005 in Beverly Hills, California. Sprinkles has since expanded to 25 locations and 15 cupcake ATMs nationwide, and in fall 2016, Candace released her debut cookbook, The Sprinkles Baking Book, which subsequently hit The New York Times Best Seller list.
Following Sprinkles’ success, Candace & Charles turned their attention to pizza, conceptualizing Pizzana with partners and friends Chris & Caroline O’Donnell. The neighborhood Neo-Neapolitan pizzeria opened in April 2017 with Candace overseeing direction for the restaurant’s pastry program to complement the savory menu from Pizzana’s Naples-born pizzaiolo. Signatures such as chocolate olive oil cake and salted caramel panna cotta (omg, it’s perfection) find their roots in Italian flavors and ingredients, while still showcasing Candace’s affinity for crafting simple desserts refined through flawless execution. Pizzana since earned (rightfully so!) a spot on Los Angeles Times’ food critic Jonathan Gold’s annual “101 Best Restaurants” list within its first year of opening.
We met with Candace at Pizzana and feasted on endless plates of artichokes, salads, and of course pizza, pizza, and more pizzana. Our dream is to eat through the menu, and we’re half way there. At the restaurant, they’re reimagining what pizza flavors can be. Think cacio e pepe, amatriciana, Mexican style, and egg with bacon jam. Of course, they also offer the classics like squash blossom with buratta, and truffle too. The pizzas are just divine. Period. You must go. You’re welcome :)
HOW THEY GLOWQUESTIONNAIRE
I was Candy in high school, but that was a while ago, unfortunately!
Food entrepreneur: co-founder and executive pastry chef at Pizzana and Sprinkles. Author, The Sprinkles Baking Book. Judge, “Cupcake Wars” and an upcoming Netflix show.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
So many places! I was born in Indonesia and spent my childhood in Southeast Asia. In addition to Indonesia, I lived in Hong Kong and Singapore, then attended boarding school and college in New England. I’ve been in California ever since!
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
Los Angeles with a healthy dose of Sun Valley, Idaho.
WHEN YOU’RE EATING HEALTHY, WHAT IS A TYPICAL…
A large coffee with almond milk and a Be Well By Kelly-inspired protein shake: pea protein powder, almond milk, spinach or kale, almond butter, flax seed, chia, collagen.
Chopped kale salad with lemon-olive oil dressing and my favorite jarred tuna (Tonnino).
Slow-baked salmon with cauli-fried rice and roasted broccoli.
SNACK: Hard-boiled eggs or Mary’s crackers with Kite Hill cheese or almond butter.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SPOTS/RESTAURANTS TO EAT HEALTHY?
Croft Alley – I love their kale salad and always add their housemade turkey sausage (does that still count as healthy??) // Gratitude // True Food Kitchen
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INDULGENCE?
Great red wine (preferably biodynamic) and dark chocolate (preferably French!).
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SPOTS/RESTAURANTS TO INDULGE?
Pizzana (and I do, regularly!) // Odys + Penelope // Sushi Park
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR LAST MEAL ON EARTH?
Lunch at Lo Scoglio da Tammasso on the Amalfi coast. Specifically, the spaghetti alla Nerano, washed down with a crisp white Italian wine!
WHAT IS THE BEST DISH YOU COOK/ YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE?
I make a great roasted chicken based on the Zuni Café method of dry brining in the fridge for two days. It makes for a super crispy skin, and the only ingredient you need is salt! It’s perfect every time.
WHERE DO YOU GROCERY SHOP?
It’s absurd how many places I shop! Brace yourself: Santa Monica Farmers Market, Santa Monica Seafood, Marcondas Meat Market, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Bristol Farms. I will instacart Erewhon sometimes too. I just wish it was a little closer!
TOP 3 ITEMS YOU ALWAYS HAVE IN YOUR KITCHEN?
Organic lemons from the trees in my front yard, pink Himalayan salt, great Italian olive oil (I’ve got a great hook-up through Pizzana!).
WHAT IS YOUR FITNESS REGIMEN? (how often & what you do)
I power walk 3-4 times a week and do pilates on a reformer with a wonderful pilates instructor who also happens to be a stand up comedian – a combination that is basically tailor made for me!
WHAT IS YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE? (products, facials, etc)
Goop Glow as an inside-out skincare drink in the morning // Cetaphil cleanser // Elta MD SPF 41 tinted sunscreen // At night I use Elta MD PM Therapy // I don’t get facials often, but when I do I trust Rene Andersen at Lulur Spa.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MAKEUP/NATURAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS?
I love Vintner’s Daughter, particularly when I’m in Sun Valley where it is so dry! I also love Beauty Counter everything – from sunscreen to lip tints.
IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND, WHAT 3 PRODUCTS WOULD YOU TAKE WITH YOU?
1. EltaMD tinted sunscreen
2. Olaplex for hair health
3. Beautycounter lip sheer (in twig)
WHAT PROFESSIONAL BEAUTY/HEALTH/FITNESS/SPIRITUAL GURUS DO YOU SWEAR BY?
Kelly LeVeque always gets me back on track after I get off-balance with menu tastings or dessert development for Pizzana, recipe testing for my cookbook or dessert tasting as a judge on TV. I can always count on her to swoop in and balance my blood sugar and make me feel “normal” again!
Rene Andersen at Lulur Spa gives a wonderful facial. I always leave with my skin feeling plump, hydrated and glowy.
TOP 3 FAVORITE SONGS?
This is a hard one because my music tastes are very diverse, from EDM to country to R&B to opera. I will say it’s been an especially tough year for me because Prince and Tom Petty are all time favorites of mine.
Anchorman. Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate are comedic geniuses.
MOST LIFE-CHANGING BOOK?
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. This book is a must-read for people whose nature is to say YES to everything!
Jenni Kayne for cozy sweaters and easy blouses and beautiful mules. // The C Magazine “State of Mind” pop-up shop at Westfield was a truly special retail experience. // Garde, March and MoncXIII for home accessories. // I love contemporary art. My favorite LA galleries are: David Kordansky, Blum and Poe, Regen Projects and Night Gallery.
COOLEST PLACE YOU’VE EVER VISITED?
Rajasthan desert, India
Castiglione Del Bosco in Tuscany and Laucala in Fiji.
WHAT IS THE BEST GIFT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
My mother gave me a framed photo of her grandmother (my great grandmother’s) San Francisco restaurant, Craig’s, which was a successful restaurant she created and ran during the depression years. She has always been my inspiration!
MOST PROFOUND HEALING EXPERIENCE YOU’VE EVER HAD?
I’m a newbie in this arena and am poring over How You Glow and building my wish list. Vicky Vlachonis, I’m coming for you!
WHO ARE YOUR MOST TRUSTED HEALERS?
I always benefit from exercise, quality time with my family and quiet time with myself.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD TO FACE AND WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM IT?
Time is the scarcest resource we have. I always want to do it all, but I have come to realize that life is about making choices. Especially during the start-up phase of a business I constantly have to remind myself to prioritize, and that saying “yes” to one thing effectively means saying “no” to something else.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
I would sleep in and then take a beautiful hike in the Malibu mountains with my husband and spend the day playing on the beach with my kids and Norwich terrier puppy, Willy. I would top it off with dinner at Pizzana which is like having dinner with extended family!
WHAT IS YOUR MOST VALUABLE GLOW TIP/SECRET?
I’m always drawn to the gym and treadmill, but when I take it outside it makes such a difference in my whole being. Exercising outside is good for the body AND the soul.
Throughout my career, I’ve found inspiration and self-confidence from my personal motto: Don’t suppress what makes you different – it will ultimately set you apart.
WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?
Family and friendships – new and old. Good food, sunshine and snow.
WHAT MAKES YOU GLOW?
Being with my two sweet boys and husband, and surrounding myself with inspirational people who are making a difference in the world.
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