Baked by Melissa’s Founder Dishes on Her Hudson Valley Roots

From delicious mini cupcakes to macaroons, Baked by Melissa bakes up treats to satisfy your sweet tooth in the Hudson Valley and beyond.  

If you love all things sweet, chances are high that you’ve come across Baked by Melissa. The national brand has developed something of a cult following for its mini cupcakes that get delivered right to your door. But what you may not realize is Melissa Ben-Ishay, co-founder and CEO of Baked by Melissa, has roots right here in the Hudson Valley.  

In honor of the inaugural Catskill Cuisine food festival at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on May 13, at which Ben-Ishay will be a main participant, we touched base with the baking pro on her rise to sweet success and Hudson Valley ties.

Latest & greatest cupcake box Baked by Melissa
Latest & greatest cupcake box

A Dream Turned Into Reality 

Growing up, Ben-Ishay spent many summer weekends in the Catskills visiting with her grandparents at their charming bungalow. She has fond memories of the area, the beautiful natural surroundings, family walks, visiting The Eldred Preserve, browsing farmers’ markets, and, of course, visiting Bethel Woods. Some of her favorite memories, however, are those of picking blueberries and baking pies with her grandmother or getting a fudgsicle from the local store. These dessert experiences, in addition to encouragement from her grandmother to bake, are what would later lead to Baked by Melissa. Today, Ben-Ishay’s parents reside in the Catskills, and she brings her children there to visit, making it a full-circle moment.  

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Melissa enjoying cake with her mom and dad.

After being fired from a job in advertising she wasn’t passionate about in 2008 at 24 years old, Ben-Ishay went home, and her brother motivated her to just start baking (which is what she had always been passionate about). Followed by a series of events, and many tie-dye cupcakes, Baked by Melissa was born.

“You never know unless you try. The hardest part is starting, and there is no right way to do that. It is never a straight line,” says Ben-Ishay as she recalls the leap of faith it took to start her own business.  

Baked by Melissa
Melissa Ben-Ishay, co-founder and CEO of Baked by Melissa.

Make Room for Dessert 

Baked by Melissa sells bite-sized, stuffed cupcakes made entirely by hand. The cupcakes are safely delivered to your doorstep and are the ultimate gift for anyone and any occasion. Why send flowers when you can send cupcakes? The very mission of Baked by Melissa “is to make people happy one bite at a time, and to become your go-to gift for everyone you love,” notes Ben-Ishay. Though the website is considered the flagship store, and the delicious cupcakes can be shipped anywhere in the U.S., Baked by Melissa also has 14 retail locations, most in the Manhattan area, with one location in Boston. 

Birthday gift box Baked by Melissa
Birthday gift box.

Delicious cupcake flavors available on the website include the tie-dye cupcake, cookies and cream, mint cookie, red velvet, vegan maple cinnamon bun, and many more. Oh, and Baked by Melissa makes scrumptious bite-sized macaroons as well (which are naturally gluten-free). Some notable flavors include sugar cookie, double chocolate, cookie dough, and salted caramel. These treats will inspire you to enjoy dessert every day after a nutritious dinner, which is exactly what Ben-Ishay does.  

Vegan chocolate vanilla chip cupcake Baked by Melissa
Vegan chocolate vanilla chip cupcake.

The Inaugural Catskill Cuisine Festival

The Catskill Cuisine festival is on May 13 at Bethel Woods, and Ben-Ishay is a headliner at the event. She is excited to attend this event because it has a real connection to her family being in the Catskill area. In addition to baking, Ben-Ishay has a love for cooking and is popular on Tiktok for her chopped salads. At Catskill Cuisine, she will be crafting a “Catskills Garden of Eagen Salad,” (named after the neighborhood in which her grandparents lived) made entirely with fresh produce grown in the Catskill region. Ben-Ishay is looking forward to making this salad, which her husband has said is her best salad she has made to date. She is looking forward to attending this event with her family and being in the presence of many celebrity chefs that she has looked up to for so long. 

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To learn more about Baked by Melissa, visit the website.

hudson valley fresh produce
Melissa Ben-Ishay at a farmer’s market

Related: EAT Brings Farm-Fresh Food to Downtown Catskill

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