News from The Dessert Place

Mother's Day Edition: Sheryl Meddin (AKA my mom) on the Best Parts of Being a Mom and Grandmother

Mother's Day Edition: Sheryl Meddin (AKA my mom) on the Best Parts of Being a Mom and Grandmother

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!
For those of you who have been following along with The Dessert Place since its (re)inception, you know that my mom has been an integral part of its success.
Most obviously, she led the way by having the guts to start FOUR Dessert Place restaurants with one of her best friends in the 80s and 90s. They created an awesome place with delicious desserts, and a special ambiance where people wanted to hang out late into the night. All of these years later, fans still remembered The Dessert Place and have been so excited that the brand is back. 
But more importantly, my mom has selflessly dedicated so much of her time over the past year helping me to get the business off the ground. She spent months training me how to master the art of the Cream Cheese Brownie (not an easy feat). She jumped right back into the kitchen to help me bake for all of our awesome customers. She's helped me put together packages when we were so busy around the holidays. And she has listened to all of my business ideas, serving as a sounding board when I need opinions. I truly couldn't have done it all without her support.
So...this Mother's Day, I went straight to the source to find out what being a mom is really about!
Celebrating Mom's 60th birthday on top of Machu Picchu
 
Q: What's the best part about being a mom?
A: Knowing that both of my children have grown to be kind, smart and compassionate people. It's a joy to watch you both navigate the world, even through the tough parts! I love the young adults you both have become! 
Q: What's the hardest part about being a mom?
A: it's a 24/7 job even when kids are grown. Sometimes I get tired! 

Q: Can you share a favorite memory you have with your mom?
A: for many years I played in the member guest ladies golf tournament with my mom. Though we never won a thing we always enjoyed that time riding in the cart, laughing (or crying) at our bad shots and enjoying each other's company. It was always a special time together. 
Eating Cream Cheese Brownies with my mom and grandmother
Q: It's been almost a year since I re-started The Dessert Place. What has it been like (from a mom perspective) to watch me bring your brand back to life?
A: Exciting, exhausting and scary at times. I am so proud of how proud you are of me and my accomplishments. You had no idea....now you have an inkling! I can't wait to see how it all evolves! 
In the kitchen baking together
Q: Looking back on all of the years, what's the most special memory you have with me?
A: I think one of the most special times with you was a ski trip we took to Utah together when you were in college. We spent 3 or 4 days together, skiing in the absolute coldest conditions I have ever skied in (which I never would have done otherwise). At the end of each day we hung out together watching Grey's Anatomy for hours on end and I just loved it. I was so happy you wanted to take a trip with me! 
Q: Do you have a special memory with Shea that stands out as well?
A: I remember the day he learned to ride a two wheeler. He wasn't even 3 years old and he was so determined. I couldn't believe he did it- right up there in the parking lot of the Ponce Apartments. We were all so excited at his accomplishment! 
Sheryl was busy running a four restaurants while still being an awesome mom
Q: What's your favorite part of Mother's Day?
A:  Being with my family. Nothing else needed. 
Our little family of four back in the day

Q: What's the most memorable Mother's Day that you can remember?
A: Shea was born on Friday, May 9th (1986). Mother's Day was Sunday May 11. It was my very first Mother's Day and I will never forget how excited I was (even while recovering from a C section) to be celebrated as a mom for the very first time. 
Q: What's your favorite thing (so far) about being a grandmother? 
A: "They" say that you don't know how good of a parent you were to your kids until you see how your kids raise their kids. I've only been a grandmother for a little over 4 months (but who's counting), but watching Shea be such an incredible father to Hudson makes me think we did something right. I know there will be wonderful times ahead with Hudson but so far it has been a joy to watch Shea and Christina fall in love with this beautiful bundle of joy. (Grandmothers are allowed to be sappy!)  
Sheryl loves her grandson, Hudson (as do we all)
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Q&A With Sarah Barjum: College Roommate, Bestie and Brownie Fan

Q&A With Sarah Barjum: College Roommate, Bestie and Brownie Fan

To date, I've posted interviews from family and friends who knew the "original" days of The Dessert Place restaurants. Today, I'm featuring a fan who has only known the new Dessert Place 2.0.

Sarah Barjum (Barj, as I call her) and I met at the very beginning of Freshman year of college when we played for the University of Michigan Women's Club Soccer team. Little did I know she'd still be such an integral part of my life over a decade later. Although we now live states apart (she in Michigan and I in Georgia), we stay in constant contact and travel together often. 

While Barj was born and raised in a completely different country (the beautiful land of Honduras), we still like to think that we're long lost sisters. I often see a picture of her and think it's me. Relatives or not, Barj has been so supportive of my entrepreneurial adventures. When I quit my job and wanted to travel a bit before (re)launching The Dessert Place, Barj simply said: "Count me in...where are we going?" Colombia and Iceland became our destinations last summer. When she came to visit me in Atlanta a few months ago, she told me weeks ahead of time that she insisted on baking or helping me with The Dessert Place in some way. And, like any new person who tries our famous Cream Cheese Brownies, she can't get enough of our CCBs!

 

Here's a look through Barj's eyes at our friendship and her experience with The Dessert Place:

 

Q: Do you remember the first time that we met?

A: I won’t say exactly how many years ago that was, but it’s been a while (yikes we are getting old!). I must have met you the first day of soccer trials for the U-M Club team but there were so many people there that I can’t really remember. The first memory of us hanging out was during our soccer initiation night, I think that is the first time we really bonded. I am pretty sure we were both rushing to catch the very last bus to North Campus together - the first of many. 

University of Michigan Women's Club Soccer Team

Marisa Meddin Sarah Barjum university of michigan women's club soccer

 

Q: As you remember it, how did we transition from teammates to friends?

A: Somewhere between being the only freshmen at the bars and our mutual love for Grey’s Anatomy, we became the closest friends. Every Thursday night, after soccer practice, we would run back to our separate dorms to get ready to go out. I would come and meet you at your room (you were never ready) right before 9:00 pm so we could watch Grey’s together and pre-game for the night. Your roommate must have hated us! Then we would try and catch the 10:05 pm bus that would drop us off right by our favorite bar. At the end of our night, we would both - yet again - be running like crazy ladies throughout campus trying to catch the last bus to our dorms. It became our tradition. To this day, we try and watch Grey’s together as much as we can. (Side note: The walk back to the dorms was at least 45 mins and very dark. So we would make sure our butts were on that bus).

 

Q: We used to cook a lot of meals together when we lived together in college (in the same house with 9 other girls). Did you ever think I'd be running a bakery business?

A: I think you are being very generous with the word “cook”. Hahaha I think we survived solely on the Special K Strawberry cereal and Amy’s frozen mini pizza pockets. How the house did not burn down that year is beyond me (I am looking at you, Robin, with that burnt bacon every morning)!  But to answer your question: no, never in my life did I picture you as a baker. But I did see you running your own business one day.

 

Q: When did you first hear about The Dessert Place?

A: I remember you telling me your mom used to own a dessert shop, but I always thought it was something small. I had no idea it was such a big deal. Good thing I didn’t know about those brownies or I would have asked for many care packages from Sheryl!

 

Q: What were your thoughts when I told you I was quitting my corporate job to bring back The Dessert Place?

A: If I am being honest, I was a little worried, but also very excited for you.  I was very happy to find out that you had found something you were very passionate about. I was also glad to see you back in Atlanta and was very relieved knowing that Sheryl and Stu would be there to help you start things. I was a little worried only because I know how hard/scary starting your own business can be (plus I had yet to try the brownies). But at the end of the day, I was very proud!

 

Q: When was the first time that you tried a Cream Cheese Brownie? What were your thoughts?

A: I think it was last year around Valentine’s day. I came to visit you in Atlanta and walked into batches and batches of brownies. I must have gained 10 pounds that weekend. I could not put them down! I knew I had to take some back to Alex (my husband) - BIG mistake.

 

Q: I hear you have to hide your Cream Cheese Brownies in your home...can you share why?

A: Alex is now more obsessed with CCBs than I am. Every time I come home with brownies or order some, he eats them and doesn’t leave me a piece! So I had started to hide them but I swear he is part hound dog- he can sniff them out.

 

Q: Original CCB or Peanut Butter CCB....which would you choose?

A: Original.

 

Q: What's your favorite way to eat a CCB?

A: I like them frozen. They become kind of like fudge, chewy.

 

Q: And just for fun, what's your favorite place that we've traveled together? 

A: This is the toughest question (you are making me pick one out of the 13 countries that we have done together?)! I would say that my favorite was Iceland. I loved the hiking and taking millions of goofy pictures. I can always remember how hard we were all laughing after I tried to do a barrel roll and failed miserably. I just couldn’t stop smiling the entire trip!

One of 1,000,000 pictures taken of us in Iceland

Marisa Meddin and Sarah Barjum

 

Q:  And a favorite specific memory from our travels?

A: One of my favorite memories is when we got lost in Vienna and ran out of money to pay our tab. We had spent all day at a pub watching the World Cup games (Honduras was playing for the first time ever!) and trying to complete the drinking around the world challenge. However, they did not accept credit cards and we did not have enough cash. Somehow you charmed our way out of it. I remember trying to find our hostel on the dripping wet map and trying to find something to eat with no more money in our pockets. I still have that shirt we “won” at the bar for completing the challenge. I will have to frame it one day. In case you all are wondering, the next morning was very rough…

Though we couldn't pay the bill, we befriended the owner of the bar in Vienna, Austria. He even gave us these T-Shirts to remember our time there.

Finding our way back home in the rain after many beers proved to be quite difficult.

 

Q: Anything else you'd like to share?

A: Hmm… Just to keep me in mind as a taste tester when a new product is coming out. I’ll make a special trip down to Atlanta if I absolutely have to.

 

And finally, a few more photos:

Our college days

Marisa Meddin and Sarah Barjum

 

We love going to Michigan football games together

 

Hanging by the London Bridge

 

 

Adventuring on the islands of Honduras - Barjum's homeland. Pretty sure I was meant to grow up in a tropical land as well.

Marisa Meddin and Sarah Barjum - Cayos Honduras

 

Exploring the beautiful streets of Cartagena, Colombia

Marisa Meddin and Sarah Barjum

 

Standing on top of a crater in Iceland

Marisa Meddin and Sarah Barjum

 

 

Looking to send the perfect gift? Our brownies are great to send for birthday gifts, thank you gifts, thinking of you gifts, and everything in between. Click here to visit our online store.

Brownie testimonials

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Behind The Scenes of the Peanut Butter CCB Creation

Behind The Scenes of the Peanut Butter CCB Creation

Many of you have asked how we decided on Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies as the next item on our menu. The inspiration began with my dad and my brother who are HUGE peanut butter fans. When Stu doesn't have time to for lunch, you can often find him snacking on some peanut butter straight from the jar. These guys wanted some peanut butter desserts. So PB CCBs it was!

Shea & Stu love peanut butter!

 

My mom and I had some ideas on how to work some peanut butter into the famous Cream Cheese Brownies and began testing. We tried two recipes with two of my younger cousins from NYC who had come to visit us in Atlanta for the weekend. They love to bake, they had some great ideas, and we had a ton of fun hanging in the kitchen together.  

My cousin Talia mixing up our secret ingredients

My cousin Arielle measuring some flour

Having a little fun after the brownies were put into the oven...tasting the batter is the best part of baking, after all

 

I was optimistic that we'd get the PB CCB just right on the first try. While each recipe tasted great, we all agreed that they could be even better and needed even more peanut butter. I turned to the experts - my mom and godmother AKA the original creators of The Dessert Place - to get their professional opinions on what we could improve. We brainstormed for several days together...

My mom and godmother had some great ideas on how to perfect the new PB CCB!

The Dessert Place - Marisa Meddin Bennett Frish and Sheryl Meddin 

Everyone is familiar with chocolate chips, but did you know that peanut butter chips existed? YUM! 

peanut butter chips

The inclusion of this creamy peanut butter in addition to the chips ensures that you get peanut butter notes in every single bite

the dessert place peanut butter cream cheese brownie 

 

After several more renditions and comparing variations with our expert taste testers, we created the most perfect, peanut buttery, chocolatey Cream Cheese Brownie. To document this glorious creation, we had to photograph the beautiful brownies for the world to see. 

Ever wonder how photographers get that pretty, white background?

 

 

So there you have it! We're pleased to officially introduce the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownie. THE most perfect creation for all of the peanut butter lovers out there. Give 'em a try today! Or send them to your peanut butter loving friends anywhere in the country :) 

The lighter chunks you see in the base of the brownie are NOT peanuts...they're our mouth watering, rich peanut butter chips!

the dessert place peanut butter cream cheese brownie gourmet gift

 

 

 

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Interview with Ann Hellman: My Aunt who Will Jump In to Help with Anything

Interview with Ann Hellman: My Aunt who Will Jump In to Help with Anything

Throughout my re-launch of The Dessert Place, my extended family has been so supportive (I guess that's what family is for, right?). While I will feature many more family members on the blog over time, I'm kicking things off with my Aunt Ann, one of my dad's older sisters from Charleston, SC... 

The entrepreneurial journey is fun and rewarding, but also terrifying and filled with many ups and downs. On days when I'm wondering why I quit my steady "9-5" job, it's family members like Ann that keep me going with encouragement. Ann is often the first person to share any and all Dessert Place social media posts (her friends might think she actually runs The Dessert Place Facebook page at this point), and has genuinely been so excited about and supportive of this new career path that I've embarked on. She loves to order brownies for family occasions, and continues to tell me just how proud she is of the work I'm doing. Whether she knows it or not, it keeps me motivated.

After Ann and her husband, Max, spent many weeks on end in the car on a cross-country road trip this past summer, they made one last stop in Atlanta to visit before making their way back to SC. Rather than relaxing and unwinding when they arrived at the end of their long trip, Ann jumped right in to help me prep a huge batch of brownies so that they were ready for shipping (literally saving me hours of work). She wouldn't have had it any other way, and continued to ask what else she could do to help. As I learned while we were chatting and cutting brownies together, history sure does have a way of repeating itself...read on below to find out how Ann also helped my mom during her very first visit to The Dessert Place in the 80s!

 

Q: Do you remember the first time you met my mom?

A: My 1st recollection of meeting your mother is when they came over to our house and I was sick and laid up in bed...  I thought it was pretty great of her to be willing to come and visit when I couldn’t do much.   We may have met before, but that memory just sticks in my mind.  
Q: When did you first experience The Dessert Place? What were your thoughts at the time?
A: Our 1st experience with the Dessert Place was at the mercy of Stuart and Sheryl and their willingness to come to Charleston with boxes of goodies.  We didn’t travel much back then, so we weren’t able to get the full effect of seeing and tasting all of great desserts that The Dessert Place had to offer.  We loved all of the goodies that were brought.  Of course, your grandmother was very protective of the Chocolate cake, so we didn’t always get to have some of that.
Q: I've heard that during one of your visits to Atlanta and to The Dessert Place, my mom put you to work behind the scenes...can you share the story?  
A: Max and I finally got a chance to take a vacation so we came to Atlanta to see Sheryl and Stuart  and visit the Dessert Place.  On Saturday night as we stood behind the counter watching all of the people stand in line waiting to get into The Dessert Place, the dishwasher broke.  Max and I being family, did what only family would do, we stood and washed dishes and trays so that they could serve the throngs the great desserts they stood in line to get.  It was a very momentous occasion and we were so happy that we could be there to help them out. 
Q: What was your very favorite item from The Dessert Place back in the day?
A: Max’s was Apple Pie.  Mine were CCB’s, Puffins, and Those Cookies.  Of curse the Carrot Cake was right up there too.  Bottom line, we liked just about everything.
Q: I vaguely recall my mother bringing bags of desserts with us during every visit to Charleston when I was a kid. What did she usually bring?
A: Chocolate Cake for Mama, and all of the things mentioned above.  We also got to try some of the new things that she was making, such as different flavored cheese cakes.
Q: What was your reaction when I first told you I was planning to quit my corporate job to revive The Dessert Place?
A: I was thrilled for you, and of course that meant that we could get the Cream Cheese Brownies again.  You are so great with anything that you do, I knew that The Dessert Place would be a wonderful success.  I was also happy that you would be in Atlanta and that we would be able to see you more often than when you were in NY.
Q: What have you enjoyed most about The Dessert Place being back in action again?
A: Besides the Cream Cheese Brownies, I have enjoyed seeing and sharing your wonderful posts on Facebook.  Seeing you use all of the marketing techniques that you learned and putting them to use in your own company makes me a very proud Aunt. 
Q: What's your favorite way to eat a Cream Cheese Brownie?
A:  FROZEN.  I can take smaller bites and have the brownie last longer.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A:  Looking forward to your developing more items that will be easy to ship so that we have lots more goodies to enjoy.  We are so proud of you and your accomplishments, especially in Bringing Back the Dessert Place. 
THE MEDDIN CLAN
The Meddin Family
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Interview with Christina Meddin: My Sister-In-Law, and Frequenter of The Dessert Place as a Kid

Interview with Christina Meddin: My Sister-In-Law, and Frequenter of The Dessert Place as a Kid

While Christina officially became a Meddin in 2012 when she married my brother, Shea, she has felt like a part of our family for over a decade. Shea and Christina became best friends during their freshman year of high school at Paideia. While the two did not start dating until their Junior year of college, Chris and Shea could often be found spending time at one another's house in their teenage years. I was lucky to spend time with Christina as well through our time together on the Paideia basketball team, in which we spent countless hours together at practices, bus rides, team meals and just hanging out before or after games. 

If you ask anyone who knew Shea & Chris in high school, they will tell you that Shea has been in love with Christina since he was (at least) fourteen years old...we're just so happy that he made it out of the best friend zone and into the "love of Christina's life" zone. And I'm thankful to have known Chris as a friend in our younger years, which has made the transition to sisters even more special. 

Many of our family friends used to visit The Dessert Place back in the day before they knew any of us personally, and Christina was no exception. Chris and the rest of the Forte family used to go to The Dessert Place often, as the restaurant in Virginia Highland was on the way home from their elementary school. Little did Christina know at the time that the owner of the restaurant was her future mother-in-law, and that she probably stood next to her future husband on many occasions while waiting in line for her afternoon dessert. 

In more recent news, our Cream Cheese Brownies just might have been the final factor that sent Christina into labor when she and Shea had their first child just over one month ago. Pregnant ladies: a CCB may be just the thing to eat if you're ready to have your baby [not guaranteed :)].

Read on below for more of Christina's memories from The Dessert Place, past and present:

Christina Meddin and Marisa Meddin The Dessert Place

 

Q: What is your earliest memory of The Dessert Place?

A: My brother Michael and I used to beg our parents to stop by TDP on our way home from elementary school, since we drove by it everyday.  We went pretty often between 1993 and 1996!  I also remember my parents sharing memories of going to TDP for date nights before we were born. 

 

Q: Did you have any connection to our family when you used to go to The Dessert Place as a kid?

A: None at all!  I'm sure we saw the Meddin family, but I have no recollection.

 

Q: What was your favorite item to get at TDP back in the day?

A: Always the cream cheese brownie with vanilla ice cream! I also loved the carrot cake, which was a close second.  

 

Q: What age did you meet my brother?

A: We met in junior high at Paideia.  No, we have not been dating for that long :) 

 

Q: Do you remember when you found out that he was connected to TDP? What was your reaction?

A: I think I found out at some point in high school. I couldn't believe we had never met there before, and I (along with my parents) asked what we had to do to get some CCBs!

 

Q: You and Shea recently had a [very, very adorable] baby boy, Hudson. Did you eat CCBs during your pregnancy?

A: I ate way more than I would like to admit! The return of the dessert place plus pregnancy in the same year is a dangerous combination.

 

Q: Can you tell the fans what you were eating when you suddenly went into labor on New Years Eve? And anything else you'd like to share about this eventful evening....?

A: We brought CCBs to a New Year's Eve dinner party that Shea and I attended. I ate one at 10:30 PM and went into labor at 11 PM. I think Hudson was ready to eat some of his own!  I also showed up to the ER in a kangaroo onesie, but that's a story for another day...
Q: Lastly, what's your favorite way to eat a Cream Cheese Brownie?

A: I don't discriminate, but I do love the vanilla ice cream cake with pieces of CCBs that we ate on your birthday last week! 

 

Q: Anything else you'd like to share?

A: I'm hoping that marrying into the Meddin family gives me access to the CCB recipe at some point ;) 

 

 PHOTOS

I accidentally made Chris cry while giving her a hug before she walked down the aisle with my brother:

Christina Meddin Marisa Meddin The Dessert Place

 

Christina's whole family has become like family to me as well! We spend many holidays all together...the photo below was taken this past Mother's Day (which happened to double as Shea's 30th birthday):

Meddin and Forte Families The Dessert Place

 

The very first moment that I met my nephew, Hudson (Shea and Christina's first child)...obviously, there were tears of joy:

 

I'm teaching Hudson to love brownies very early in his life: 

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