The Throwdown

Back in 2010, I was fortunate enough to be challenged to a Throwdown with Bobby Flay on The Food Network. Honestly, I truly had no idea he was coming! They threw out the bait and I fell for it! At the time, the Cooking Channel was launching, and I was asked to participate in a new show called Top That Cake. Did I know how to make the best carrot cake ever? Of course . . . and off I went.

I arrived to the filming and was shocked when I saw Bobby Flay standing before me. I tried to be compose my excitement--to not botch my chance on national television. My VeryVery Carrot Cake was the favorite, and I won the throwdown challenge. The rest, as they say, is history.

As you know, we closed our retail operation in July of 2013 and every time a rerun of this show airs, people flock to our website and our phones ring off the hook. Yesterday I had a clue when calls started coming in from all over the country that a rerun of that show must have aired. 755 visitors to our website yesterday clearly indicate that there is still energy surrounding our brand and the cake that actually launched my own TV career.

What's next on my list? A cookbook. Keep up with us and our progress on The VeryVera Cookbook. We are hard at work testing recipes and compliing the stories, memories, and andedotes that made VeryVera cakes and gourmet-to-go a tradition.

If you haven't seen the episode, check it out: 



Remembering de la Renta

Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who spent half a century putting high society in haute couture, died Monday. The Sultan of Suave dressed everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Oprah Winfrey and was a customer of VeryVera.

In 1999, the John Rosselli & Associates design firm in New York was decorating de la Renta's apartment on Park Avenue. Someone in the firm overheard de la Renta say that he loved caramel cake and the next thing we knew, VeryVera received a call from the design team to order a cake for Mr. de la Renta.

It is a day I will never forget. I was beyond thrilled--I was screaming with glee as we carefully placed that cake in the box. The taste of our Southern handmade cakes--the icing, the look, and packaging--and our attention to detail set us apart and enabled VeryVera to garner fans from throughout the nation, and beyond.

Afterwards, Oscar de la Renta ordered dozens and dozens of VeryVera cakes for his friends and associates, and even sited VeryVera Caramel Layer Cakes as one of his go-to gifts in the 2007 issue of InStyle Magazine.

Impeccable style, grace & taste; today we remember Oscar de la Renta.

Holly, Jolly . . . the Best Time of the Year!

Spend Christmas with Vera!

This year, our Christmas Semester includes two very special classes that are filled with Holiday cheer:

Classes are held on Saturdays and start at 9:00 a.m., end at 2:00 p.m., & include a recipe packet, snack, lunch and a bag of goodies to take home. Students are placed in like age groups and circulate between the Kitchen, Kitchen Prep Room, and Craft Room. Appropriate for Ages 6 - 14.

And be sure to save these dates for our Winter Cooking Classes:

SEMESTER DISCOUNT: Sign up for 3 Semester classes and receive $25 off with promo code SEMESTER. For details or to register, visit www.veryvera.com.

James Farmer Book Signing!

VeryVera & 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts present:

A Book Signing w/ author & Southern entertaining expert James Farmer. Taste recipes from his latest book Dinner on the Grounds, meet the author, + have him sign it!

Food: VeryVera
Location: 3 Monkeys Fine Gifts, Aiken, SC
Date: Tues. Oct. 7
Times: 5 - 7 pm
Cost: As many books as you wish to buy!

About James Farmer: Native of Kathleen, Georgia, James Farmer is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling book, A Time To Plant (2011) Sip & Savor (2012), Porch Living (2012), Wreaths For All Seasons (2012), A Time to Cook (2013), and Dinner on the Grounds (2014), published by Gibbs-Smith Publishers.

In Spring 2013, James opened his design and antique store, James Farmer Inc., in downtown Perry.

James is the national spokesperson for The American Camellia Society, and is an editor-at-large for Southern Living Magazine. He has been featured on NBC TODAY, HGTV Gardens, Paula’s Home Cooking, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping Magazine, Woman’s Day, Traditional Home, and The Local Palate. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Jules Collins Smith Art Museum at Auburn University and was recently recognized as a 2013 Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient.

Jane & Her New Wheels!

What did Jane get for her 3 1/2 year birthday? HOT WHEELS!! We are all so excited about Jane's custom chair complete with her name on the back and of course in her favorite color, bright pink! The big tray on the front will allow Lucy, her "big" little sister, to share toys and have tea parties! The milestones with Jane are so different than her sister's; however, they are equally rewarding.

Jane has influenced each of us with her resilience and determination. I'm looking forward to burning rubber with Jane!!

An Evening to Remember

Last week I had the pleasure of preparing dinner for one of my very favorite people, Dr. Bleakley Chandler, in honor of his eighty-eighth birthday. Bleakley, who has been a good friend and client for many years, and his precious wife of sixty-one years, Jane, were kind and gracious hosts. 

The birthday boy and king of the household, Bleakley, is as energetic and spry as the first time I met him. From brisk walks in his neighborhood to quickly responding to emails, he is, no doubt, more on the ball than you or I. 

So, is age just a number? In Bleakley's case, yes; absolutely. 

It was a wonderful and unforgettable evening, and I so look forward to Bleakley's eighty-ninth!


VeryVera Fall Cooking Classes for Kids!

School is in session! That's right, VeryVera's Fall Cooking Classes, starting this month, include:

Classes, 9 am-1 pm, include a recipe packet, snack, lunch & a bag of goodies to take home. Ages 6 - 14. Sign up for individual classes OR if you register for the entire semester all (all 3 classes), you receive $25 off w/ code SEMESTER. Register now: www.veryvera.com.

Family Tradition: Four Generations of Cooks

Many of you remember Melissa Carden, my Commissary Director for several years at VeryVera. Melissa and her husband headed to Birmingham with The Southern Company and she and I have remained in constant contact, especially regarding all things FOOD. I couldn’t resist sharing this sweet picture of her 3-year-old Mae Margaret sporting the apron that Melissa wore as a child. Her grandmother Ruth Roberts is a wonderful cook and great grandmother Nell McBrayer was the family cooking-inspiration. Nell McBrayer even has a family cookbook in her honor, Fine Southern Recipes McBrayer’s Grocery, edited by Melissa and written by her sister Aimee. I’m not sure if there are still copies for sell, but it is a GREAT cookbook. I have used many of the recipes myself and have featured quite a few on The VeryVera Show.

We Are Family!
Vera & Siblings, Family Reunion

I'm sure many of you have had opportunities over the summer to reunite with family members. I just returned from seeing all of my brothers and sisters and a few of the nieces/nephews and their children. What a wonderful time we had catching up, reminiscing, and telling on each other. I've lost count of the number of times I heard, "I never knew that!" 

The years may have changed our appearance, but our personalities remain the same. I am so very grateful for our hosts Bitsy, Jeff, Harry, and Vern. In case you have forgotten the namesakes of those delicious VeryVera pound cakes, here they are, listed by birth order: Bitsy (Amaretto Pound), Trip (Lemon Crisp), Vera (Chocolate), Harry (Old Fashioned), and Lou (Cream Cheese).

Each sibling will get an opportunity to write a blurb about his or her cake in my upcoming cookbook . . . as long as the stories do not involve tales about little Vera!


Vera Stewart

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