Bill Clinton coming to campus was pretty cool I guess… but I met Casey Shiller, the Cupcake Wars champion from Jilly’s Cupcakes.
Why so starstruck? Because Casey is the executive pastry chef at Jilly’s and the mastermind behind those one-pound gourmet cake bombs we know and love. What most students don’t know is the shop’s unique history and wide range of menu options. The café opened in 2007 when Jill Segal, the namesake and founder, decided to embrace the idea of “individual celebrations.” Jack Heffner, vice president, says of Jill, “She wanted to celebrate individualism as well as individual celebrations. With cupcakes, everyone gets what they want; everyone’s satisfied no matter their taste – if you prefer cream cheese frosting, it’s available. If you prefer buttercream, we have that too.” Since its opening seven years ago, Jilly’s has been on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars three times, snagging first place in 2011 and 2013 and coming extremely close in 2012.
Out of the spotlight is Jilly’s café food (sandwiches, soups, salads) and brunch. Still, over 350 customers go each Sunday morning to feast on the unique bananas foster french toast, traditional eggs with hash browns and much more. Jack says, “A lot of people just see us as cupcakes, but we also make hand-crafted chef-inspired food.” Our favorite? The “OMG” sandwich, a super-filling yet deliciously healthy veggie sandwich with zucchini, portabello mushroom, goat cheese, bell peppers and red onions.
Now, Jilly’s is making moves into the ice cream business. Jack explains, “Chef Casey came up with a line of ice cream inspired by our cupcakes. It’s been doing so well in the stores that we decided to open an ice cream bar with new surprises each month.” Select flavors are available in eight local Schnucks stores – all of which are cupcake-inspired. Which flavors, you ask? They range from chocolaty to fruity, including “Space Monkey” (chocolate-banana ice cream with Jilly’s banana-toffee cake morsels, toffee bits, swirls of caramel and cream cheese icing. MAJOR YUM) and “Island in the Sun” (fresh mango ice cream with Jilly’s pineapple cake morsels, brown sugar roasted pineapple, white chocolate shavings and swirls of mango buttercream). Holy crap, Chill frozen yogurt has never seemed so inadequate. The ice cream shop opens in February, but good news for you eager WashU students: free ice cream samples will be given out at the Spoon Launch Party this Saturday.
No matter what you order, the food from Jilly’s will blow you away with creativity, flavor and calorie count (so worth it). Jack emphasizes, “The chefs are passionate about what they do. When you’re excited about what you do, you wake up in the middle of the night and ask, ‘How can we wow people?’ What can we do next? The bar gets set higher every time.”
You’ll see Jilly’s delectable eats – mini cupcakes, ice cream, and even the OMG sandwich – this Saturday at the DUC for the Spoon Launch Party. Oh, and if you’re wondering, Jill’s favorite cupcake flavor is Turtle Cheesecake. But you’ll have to see for yourself which flavor wins the “cupcake war” on Saturday.
Location: 8509 Delmar Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63124
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm, Sun: 9am-4pm