All Things Sweet And Small

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - February 20, 2008
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Frances Pons: sweet tastes in small bites
Frances Pons: sweet tastes in small bites

If you like things small and sweet, this is for you.

“There’s a huge movement of miniature foods,” says Frances Pons. “All things small are really loved.”

And she should know, because her company, Sugar Rush by Frances, specializes in miniature desserts.

Her line of miniature cheese-cakes comes in guava, pineapple, mango, Oreo, poi and mandarin orange flavors, as well as vanilla raspberry, white chocolate, chocolate truffle, strawberry, Italian espresso and Key lime.

Her newest miniature sugar rush is called the Goldfinger - pumpkin or strawberry cheesecake rolled into a ball on a stick like a lollipop, covered in milk- and semi-sweet chocolate. The handle is covered in gold.

Naming and describing the desserts seem to be just as much an art as the sweet treat themselves.

“I come up with the names myself,” Pons says. “Sometimes I get them from pacing the floor in the middle of the night.”

For example, one dessert is called Screaming Opera. Her menu reads: “This is the dessert that makes a prima donna throw caution to the wind and dive right in.”

“‘Opera’sounds a bit pretentious to me, so I thought I’d knock it down a notch and add the word screaming,” says Pons.

Screaming Opera is a classical European dessert of chocolate fudge layered with almonds, chocolate mouse and covered in chocolate glaze.

“There are a lot of chocoholics,” she says with a chuckle. “Anything with chocolate in it is popular.”

Besides the Screaming Opera and cheesecakes, she offers more trendy desserts such as the Anuenue, which is a cake made in six colors of the rainbow. There is also the Bogie and Bacall Key lime mousse, and the luscious Lilliputian is a lilikoi custard bar.

Pons needs a month’s notice for private parties and events of 150 or more. Her gift box of 16 pieces must be ordered 48 hours in advance. With the help of an assistant, and one day’s notice, customers can select from the company’s specials menu and pick up their orders from the commercial kitchen in Kalihi.

“As a young girl my grandmother made Japanese confections,” Pons shares. “My grandmother is from a restaurant family in Japan.”

A self-described military brat, Pons was born and raised in Japan, and graduated from an American military high school there. While she was working as a corporate planner in San Francisco, she started baking cheesecakes and brought them to work. Co-workers raved about her cheesecakes and began placing orders.

“Making the cheesecakes brought me so much more joy, and I knew something greater was calling me,” says Pons. “I prayed and I said, ‘What do you want me to do?‘I took the plunge to start my own business, and people thought I was crazy. Others said, ‘Do what you love, and the money will follow.’ It’s really scary in the beginning. It’s terrifying.”

The California Culinary Academy graduate moved to Hawaii in 2000 to be near her mom and dad. She worked as a pastry chef for Koolau Catering for three years, then decided to start her own business in December 2003. She now makes her home in Salt Lake.

While this business is her passion, running her own company does have its challenges. One of which is to find and keep skilled employees. To overcome that obstacle, she says experience has taught her to understand what kind of person she is looking for. Another challenge of running a business, Pons admits, is inflation.

“Since everything is shipped out or flown out, it makes doing business cost more,” says Pons. “We just have to seek creative ways to diligently mitigate every day. Be organized, fastidious and not wasteful. You march forward and do the best you can.”

Pons says the best thing about her business is that the sweet treats make people happy.

“When you eat it, that’s when you appreciate it.”

For more information, call 949-4948.

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