August 8, 2018 10:59:16 AM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Sometimes it's all about putting your heads together. In this case, three of them. It happened last year when Michael Dodson, an instructor of biology at Mississippi University for Women since 2009, got to chatting with his apartment complex neighbors, Franco and Makie Lopes. Franco is originally from Brazil; Makie is from Japan. The Lopes moved to Columbus from Japan about two years ago so Franco could work on a degree in history at The W. He already holds a bachelor's degree in theology.
Michael, in his spare time, enjoys making jellies and jams. Franco likes to bake, specializing in cupcakes. It all gave Michael an idea.
"I thought, why don't I get a booth at the farmers market?" the Tennessee native said. It would be a great way for the Lopes to get to know their new community and would give them all a creative outlet.
Michael got that booth at Columbus' Hitching Lot Farmers Market last season and the trio, as Daddy's Cupcakes, began bringing goodies on Saturdays when the market is open from 7-10 a.m. Soon Michael added sourdough bread made using his mother's recipe and starter. Makie began bringing cheesecakes and cinnamon rolls. Before long, she added an assortment of unique savory breads -- think cheddar, jalapeno, onion and bacon. Now in their second summer at the market, the friends have developed a following for specialty cupcakes, sweet and savory breads, warm sausage and biscuits and rosemary strawberry lemonade.
The name Daddy's Cupcakes originated in Japan, where Franco's cupcakes he made for his daughter's birthday celebrations gained a reputation. His creations go beyond the ordinary, ranging from red velvet and gingerbread to green tea, chocolate and cherry, Twix, apple and most flavors in between. The decorations cover the spectrum from fun and whimsical to delicately beautiful.
"I always loved baking. My favorite thing was always cake, and when I found out about cupcakes, I was in love with them," said Franco who was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and grew up in Fortaleza. "We have a lot of flavors we play with. I've even discovered some new things in the South, like pecans. And here in the South, I was impacted with the banana breads."
Makie, from Kanagawa, Japan, near Tokyo, also enjoys orchestrating flavors. Her savory loaves include bacon, onion and cheddar cheese bread; turkey, bacon and cheddar bread; jalapeno cheddar bread; and bacon cheddar bread, among others.
"These are the most creative people I have ever met, these two -- the things they can come up with," said Michael whose jellies and jams include apple butter, persimmon butter, strawberry lemonade jelly, scuppernong, Christmas jam, Scarlet Harvest, blueberry and fig.
Being part of the farmers market is an enriching experience for the friends. Not only do market Saturdays offer an opportunity to interact and exercise her English, Makie has been able to meet others from Japan.
"Yes, when I meet Asian people, I get excited," she smiled.
"It's been a really cool way for all of us to kind of meet the community and for us to have some fun and be creative," said Michael. "They're getting to meet not just Americans but other nationalities as well -- French, some from England, multiple people from Japan, the Philippines, Columbia, Bulgaria. Some are with the Yokohama plant or with the Air Force ... there is a big mixture of people."
The Lopes are enjoying Mississippi.
"I'm very happy here," said Franco. "My church has a T-shirt that says 'Love where you live.' I love wearing that shirt."
Franco and Makie make a point to visit area museums and downtowns whenever they get the chance. Franco is fascinated by history, especially African-American history.
"My goal is to be a history teacher who will teach history with passion," he said. Of course, he also plans to keep baking. It's a dream of his to perhaps one day "have a little coffee shop, with a little bakery. ... We love baking. We love people."
Daddy's Cupcakes will be at the farmers market at Second Avenue and Second Street North in Columbus Saturdays from 7-10 a.m. through the season, which runs through October. They will also be at the Holiday Market Nov. 17.
To inquire about placing an order, email Michael Dodson at [email protected]
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.