All is fair in cake and war.
Costa Mesa native and Estancia High School alumna Megan Faulkner Brown had a winning strategy when she battled on the popular reality TV show"Cupcake Wars."
The Utah resident's dark chocolate, brie, nut, cranberry and red wine cupcakes knocked out the competition in the April 8 episode of the Food Network show.
"It turned out as this great combination of sweet and bitter," Brown said.
For the episode, she was challenged to create a recipe using ingredients that a rock star might have in his dressing room.
She had three rounds, lasting 30, 75 and 120 minutes, to create the recipe.
"It happens so fast," Brown said. "Nothing can prepare you for that."
While baking against the clock was a whole new experience, Brown is a veteran in the kitchen. She grew up watching her mother whip up recipes.
"I learned how to bake from her," Brown said. "She always let me be involved."
That early love of baking lead her to opening her own business, the Sweet Tooth Fairy, in Utah in 2009. Many of her baked goods incorporate recipes she learned from her mother and grandmother.
Now, as a mother herself of four young children, Brown can pass those lessons on to another generation.
"They love stirring the eggs, turning on the KitchenAid and doing other small, helpful things like that," Brown said. "They're learning."
The Sweet Tooth Fairy was launched into the limelight for the first time about three years ago when Brown's signature cake bites caught attention of celebrity cook Rachael Ray.
The mini desserts were featured on Ray's cooking program a second time last month.
Brown attributes much of her success to Ray's show.
Now, with 10 locations — nine in Utah and one in Arizona — Brown has opened the business model up to franchise opportunities.
An 11th location is opening in Texas next month, she said.
Although no Sweet Tooth Fairy locations are open yet in California, Brown aims to bring the business back home one day and open up in Costa Mesa or Newport Beach.
She described the look and feel of her stores as warm, inviting and reminiscent ofDisneyland'sMain Street, U.S.A.
"What I'm trying to do is create an experience for people," Brown said. "A lot of the time people don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it."