Atlanta’s cupcake boom may have slowed, but our cupcakeries are still battling it out on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” This Sunday, Cloud 9’s Mike Pettenato competes for bragging rights and the $10,000 prize.
Pettenato got his start in the food industry working as a waiter in New York City restaurants like Mario Batali’s Babbo and Eleven Madison Park. Those jobs sustained him while he tried to break into the stand-up comedy business.
When this local boy, a Westminster graduate, returned to Atlanta, he opened Cloud 9 with his family. The original Roswell location began as a cupcake/frozen yogurt store. Cloud 9 has since expanded to Lenox Mall and will open a cupcake/milkshake spot at Perimeter Mall any day now.
With his background as a performer and a few years of cupcake baking under his apron, Pettenato felt ready to take Hollywood by storm via “Cupcake Wars.” He jokes that he would be quite content if his Food Network appearance led to a sitcom, “Who doesn’t want to be on TV?”
That’s what led to tears amongst his staff as he held a mini in-shop cupcake wars to determine who would assist him on the show. In the end, Taylor Sparkman, another local who attended Sequoyah High School, won both the baking and personality contest. Pettenato says he chose her as much for their chemistry and on-air presence as her baking skills.
Once on the set, Pettenato says the contestants struggled to keep it together in the high-stress environment. “It was like the ‘Hunger Games.’ You feel like at any moment you’re going to die. You’re just hoping you’re Katniss.” He deadpans, “It leads to a lot of tears and asthma.”
We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see how the Cloud 9 team fares. If he wins, Pettenato plans to invest in a delivery vehicle. The shop currently outsources delivery. Pettenato says, “It would be really cool to have my face on a car.”
Cloud 9 shops will soon feature the cupcakes made on the show. If you’d like the recipes, Cloud 9 will have its first cookbook available for download on Amazon after the episode airs.
8 p.m. Sunday, Food Network.
Good luck to the Cloud 9 team!
–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog