Her Tidewater Community College education paved the way.
“I loved the program,” said the Portsmouth native, who earned an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts in 2005. “I’ve always made cakes at home, but I wanted the degree before I started my own business.”
SilverSpoon Bakery, 4715 Portsmouth Blvd., opened in December 2005, the culmination of years of dreams starting when Martinez was an 8-year-old making eggs in her pink Easy-Bake oven, spying Julia Child on television.
“The first time I saw somebody make a rose on a cake, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
One of her first jobs was at Darlin’s, a bakery in Tower Mall – a position that so excited her that, “I ran home and told my mom I had a job in a bakery,” she said. “I didn’t know how much it paid; I didn’t know when I started. I just knew it was a bakery job.”
After five years there, Martinez went on to work as a cake decorator at both Food Lion and Farm Fresh. She learned new ideas from leafing through cake books and creating with canned frosting. In 2004, she spent three weeks at the Institute of Culinary Arts in New York studying under renowned cake decorator Toba Garrett.
At TCC, Martinez studied under John Cappellucci, a professor she didn’t like initially. “He was like the chefs on TV,” she said. “Then after I finished my first class with him, I didn’t want anyone else. He helped me a lot, but I gained a lot of weight!”
In addition to perfecting her baking technique, Martinez enjoyed the American Regional class. “I still use the book,” she said. “The other night I used it to make a beer cheese soup recipe for a contest.”
SilverSpoon has been successful since its start, achieving immediate attention when the shop won a Virginian-Pilot cookie contest three days after it opened. Martinez’s “no-bake” Christmas cookie was such a hit that calls poured in from curious customers. Though she had planned for SilverSpoon to be a by-appointment cake specialty shop, she started a walk-in business when a cleaners opened next door.
Walk into SilverSpoon these days and the decisions abound. Almond cupcake or chocolate fudge? Pumpkin or apple sugar baby (these are moister versions of doughnut holes). How about a slice of chocolate covered bacon? Martinez also offers cake shakes – your choice of cupcake mixed with ice cream, whipped cream and sprinkles on top – and has a cupcake bar – pick your frosting and topping.
“I love when little kids come in who can’t even talk but point to the case,” she said.
Her wedding cakes would be the envy of Cake Boss. Imagine it and Martinez can create it. Despite long Friday nights that feed into lengthy Saturdays, she doesn’t tire of work that brings so much joy to others.
“Everybody talks about how Michael Jackson crossed boundaries with his music,” Martinez said. “I’ve done the same with cake. I’ve been in places I could never afford to go. I’ve eaten dinner with people I’d never have known. I’ve been to hundreds of weddings. I’m an aunt to hundreds of babies. I’m not an only child anymore!”