Julie Curry had never cooked before her children were born. But on maternity leave, the new mother became suspicious of the processed foods available for her family.
“I was just buying baby food and looking at the ingredients, and there are so many ingredients in it,” says Curry. “I didn’t really understand. If it says ‘apples,’ shouldn’t it just be apples?”
Through the help of her husband and round-the-clock Food Network viewing, she started cooking. By the time of her second maternity leave, Curry was confident enough in her skills to enter a cupcake contest at the Ybor Market. She won first place with a French Toast Maple Bacon cupcake.
“I was actually talking to an 8-year-old and they said, ‘You know what would be cool? If you put bacon on a cupcake,’” she says. “And I was like, that would be cool.”
The success of Curry’s cupcakes formed the foundation for Bake’n Babes, a pastry and confectionery joint in the Hall on Franklin. Since opening a brick-and-mortar store in 2017, Curry’s reputation for raucous sweet treats like the boozy Irish Car Bomb cupcake and a (secretly vegan) salted chocolate chip cookie has made her a star at the Hall. A surprise best-seller is Curry’s paleo granola, now available to order online from anywhere in the country.
“I wanted food that I could eat that I couldn’t find anywhere else,” she says. “The menu is all over the place, kind of like my head. My favorite item is probably the Babe Shake. It’s a milkshake with a Liege waffle on top of it.”
For someone who never dreamed of working in a kitchen, Curry is excited for what the future will cook up next.
“We’re looking to open a new spot soon, before the end of this year,” Curry says. “We’re just trying to find that sweet spot right now.”