Q+A: RICARDO GUDINO:

For chef, no one is too young to succeed in business or too old to improve their craft

Owner Ricardo Gudino poses with cupcakes at Caked Las Vegas, 7175 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Originally The Cupcakery, Gudino changed the name of the bakery to promote his custom-made cakes, including wedding cakes.

Ricardo Gudino owns Caked Las Vegas, which was featured this summer on Food Network’s “Cupcake Championship” and is the preferred cake vendor for such companies as Mansion 54, Hakkasan Group and JW Marriott Las Vegas. The shop offers a vast selection of cupcakes, including vegan, gluten-free and keto options, and also creates custom order cakes for any occasion.

When did you know you wanted to become a chef? Have you always specialized in pastries?

Ricardo Gudino: Caked Las Vegas

Samples of mini-pies, tarts and cakes are displayed at Caked Las Vegas, 7175 W. Lake Mead Blvd., Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Launch slideshow »

I think cooking in general is in my blood. As a child, I was always intrigued by what my mom was doing in the kitchen. I always wanted to be in there with her and help and learn. Cooking is also a huge part of my culture and heritage. I always knew I needed to be in the culinary world somehow, someway. I started my journey wanting to do pastries, cakes and desserts, but I didn’t always specialize in it. I held my fair share of line cook positions in various hotels on the Strip, catering and even taught cooking classes for kids.

Tell us about that and what you learned from your Food Network experience.  

It was a truly amazing experience but honestly, it was also one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, which I definitely wasn’t expecting. I learned to stay true to myself and not play it safe. With all the pressure during the competition, you just go blank and black out—just kidding, but you really get in the zone. Although I didn’t win, I definitely left feeling proud of myself for having made it on the show, and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to showcase my skills and represent Las Vegas.

What is your take on the Supreme Court case about the same-sex wedding cake? 

I definitely don’t agree with the bakery’s decision to refuse service and discriminate toward the couple. As part of the LGBTQ community myself, we should be able to go anywhere without the fear of being discriminated against. We should all be able to put our differences aside and be able to co-exist in this world. We welcome anybody with open arms into our bakery and we take pride in that.

What skills are most important in a pastry chef’s career?

A chef should keep an open mind and be willing to try new things and learn new techniques. I always enjoy learning new things and growing my skill set.

What prompted you to buy Caked (aka the Cupcakery in Summerlin) and make it your own?

I was part of the original crew when the Summerlin location opened back in 2007. It was like my baby. I saw it grow and prosper and I couldn’t bear to see it go. I came on as partner in 2015, and in 2016, took over my store completely as owner. I wanted to be able to offer something for everyone, expand our menu and be more of a full-service bakery versus just cupcakes, which is why I decided to rebrand and re-open as Caked Las Vegas this year.

What is the hardest thing about being a young entrepreneur?

A few things come to mind, such as not being respected or taken seriously just because I am young; taking a huge financial risk; potentially facing uncertainty as a small, local business; dealing with forces beyond my control; making hard decisions daily, and staying on top of the game in a competitive market. However, I see and appreciate every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.

How many people are on your team and what is your management style?

I have eight employees working with me. When I’m baking or working in the bakery, I’m just part of the team. We are a solid team and without them, the bakery wouldn’t function as well as it does. I think my management style consists of various styles: I am a visionary but at the same time, democratic and transformational. We have so much fun as a team.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

Someone once told me, “Becoming successful in business is more about your mentality, psychology and determination than it is about finding little tips, tricks and exploitations in your industry,” and I really took that to heart.

Where’s your favorite place to wind up or wind down in the city?

Any free time I have, I love to be home with my husband and our fur babies.

What pastry trends would you like to see come back, keep around or go away?

Personally, I can’t live without the unicorn trend, and anything glitter must never die down. I’d also love to keep around metallics on cakes. I love the look of it.

What is your personal favorite cupcake and what beverage would you pair it with?

My all-time favorite is orange cream. It’s tangy orange cake with a vanilla and orange cream cheese icing swirl. I love having it with a cup of hot coffee.

Who do you admire?

My parents for coming to the United States as immigrants and working hard to prosper and raise a family. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

People lying just to get something for free.

If you could spend a day in anybody’s shoes, who would you choose and why?

Jennifer Lopez — she is so beautiful and glamorous, and I’m obsessed.

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