A Corona del Mar resident has one pie tin in the door toward opening her own bakery after winning an original recipe contest for a Los Angeles-based bakery chain.
Tamar Gugasian, 36, whose family owns 21 Oceanfront Restaurant and Doryman's Inn in Newport Beach, will have her home-made sugar-cream pie for sale at SusieCakes locations this week as the winner of the Home Baker Pie Contest.
"I am so excited and honored that they would choose my own recipe," Gugasian said of the recipe, which uses a crumble chocolate-chip cookie crust because members of her family have nut allergies. "It feels like the start of something — I have more enthusiasm to get moving on my dream."
That dream would be to open her own Armenian American fusion bakery under the name T-Sweets, with eco-friendly packaging, natural ingredients and philanthropy at its core, Gugasian said.
"Baking is just a hobby," Gugasian said. "I feel really fortunate that I've had the support of my family and I want to pay it forward."
As the youngest of five siblings, preparing dessert for family dinners had given Gugasian a responsibility that was uniquely her own, she said.
As an adult, baking is still her way to bring the family together. All 21 of them, if you were to count all three generations, will often converge at Gugasian's Corona del Mar home for a midweek treat of fresh-baked sweets, she said.
As winner of the Home Baker Pie Contest, Gugasian's pie will be on sale by the slice or as a whole pie in all six SusieCakes locations through Saturday.
"[Gugasian's] recipe was chosen due to its incredibly unique crust, made of chocolate chip cookies and its "custard-like" filling, which reminded me of an old fashioned cheese-pie, which is rarely found these days," company founder Susan Sarich wrote in an e-mail this week. "…We feel that Tamar really mirrored the core values of SusieCakes by sharing a creative recipe and by also connecting the generations of her family through baking."
The company holds two bakery contests per year, coinciding with National Pie Day and Mother's Day, Sarich wrote.
"The contests create an opportunity for guests to share their favorite recipes and receive recognition for their special family traditions," Sarich wrote. "We feel that the contest reinforces our commitment to the local community with both our loyal customers and potential new ones."
For Gugasian, wining the contest reminded her both about her dream to open T-Sweets and the role her family has played in helping get here there.
"My parents work very hard so that we can have the kind of life that we have," Gugasian said. "My dad is just waiting for me to tell him that I'm ready and I know that he'll help me get started."
Enter Your Recipe
For more information on SusieCakes, locations and future Home Baker Pie Contests, visit http://www.susiecakesbakery.com.