Photo by OCW staffIf history teaches us anything—besides the fact that Charlemagne is a bitchen name—it's that the direction of a person's life can change in an instant: the fateful hard left, the crucial U-turn, the auspicious soft jog to the right just past the Texaco. It can happen anywhere, any time—aboard a speeding space shuttle or rocketing past a microwave-oven demonstration, which is how it happened for Gail Allen. And the rest, as they say, is chocolate.
Allen owns and runs—and hardly ever leaves—A Heavenly Affair, the Cypress confection shop that for the past 11 years, has specialized in custom-made sweets. Usually, the shop is so custom-oriented that patrons can't buy so much as a chocolate-dipped pretzel from the case. Everything is designed to order.
The Christmas season is one of the few times you can walk into the shop, located at the corner of Ball and Moody, and request—and very likely receive—a chocolate pretzel or a chocolate nutcracker, a candy flower, a chocolate champagne bottle stuffed with candy, or the always-popular Grandma's apple pie (an apple dipped in caramel and white chocolate and covered in cinnamon sugar).
We decided to talk to Gail Allen because we wanted to know this: Where does a candy cook like to go for dinner? More specifically, dessert? Does she ever get sick of candy? And will she send us a free sample? (Done!)
OC Weekly:How'd you get into the candy business? Gail Allen: It was a mistake. Honest to God, I never thought I'd be in the candy business. I started out as a caterer, catering weddings and stuff. Whenever I'd do a job, I noticed that people always left the little candy party favors behind. So I thought, why can't I make something they'll actually want to eat and take home with them? So you already knew how to make candy?
Oh, no. I took classes. Well, one class. Well, actually, I was walking by one of those microwave-oven demonstrations at the mall. They were doing a folded rose, and I liked the way it looked. So I bought one mold and a box of chocolate. I went home, made some candy and sold it that week. It was Valentine week. I made $2,000. I thought I was going to be rich. [Laughs] Yeah, that's a good one.
Being around candy all day, do you ever get sick of it?
Oh, no, not me. I eat candy every day. You can tell from my body. Sometimes we buy chocolate foil hearts, you know, to fill orders. And [the employees] will want to eat all of them. And I have to tell them, "First we fill the orders—then we can eat."
Where would you go for a nice dinner?
To be honest, I don't go out that much. I'm a workaholic. I work seven days a week. I'd never stop if I could. They have to force me to leave every day.
You love making candy that much?
No, we're just really busy. It's kinda sad.
I guess I'm wondering where a candy maker would go for a great dessert.
That's the problem. I eat so much candy during the day I'm not interested in dessert. I used to be a big dessert person, but then I bought a candy shop.
You make all these very special things; do you ever make anything special for yourself?
I eat candy all day, so why would I need something special? Every now and then, I'll take home some peppermint crunch.
Do you get so busy that you have to eat candy for lunch?
Oh, yeah, all the time. We have candy for lunch; we're so busy we'll eat the chocolate hearts. Actually, that's the best lunch: a chocolate heart and a cup of coffee. It's great. It makes you a little crazy, and then you can really work hard. At night, we can go home and eat our salad or chicken or, you know, food.
A Heavenly Affair, 5115 Ball Rd., Cypress, (714) 952-1444. Open tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
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