How does one of the founding members of USA Today’s LA Bureau become the creator of the best cheesecake in Austin? By partnering with a Belgian powerhouse and following a dream.
Editor’s Note: CinnaMan Cheesecakes closed in September 2015 when the founder moved to Houston.
Someone Call a Screenwriter
Michael “CinnaMan” Hurd and Viviane Tondeur, Michael’s partner in cheesecake goodness, have known each other for 30 years.
Michael spent his childhood in his mother’s kitchen in Houston.
Viviane spent her younger years in Antwerp, working in a Belgian bakery owned by her father.
Through a meeting fit for a Hollywood screenplay, the two met.
From their separate parts of the world, Michael and Viviane both ended up on the west coast. Michael had taken the role of sportswriter for the LA office of USA Today and Viviane had landed in the corporate travel industry.
Viviane never booked travel for individuals, but through the twisting hands of fate she ended up needing to book travel for Michael. Through the lifelong friendship they formed and the baking background they had in common, CinnaMan Cheesecakes was born.
The Making of a Passionate Cheesecake Chef
Michael Hurd fondly recalls wonderful conversations he had with his mother in the kitchen of their modest Houston home, as she did her baking. It was her influence that originally sparked his interest.
One Sunday after Michael had left home, he discovered a recipe for Cinnamon Streusel Cake in the Parade insert of that day’s newspaper. Michael gave the recipe a shot and took the cake into work the next day. It was instantly devoured with a myriad of compliments to the blossoming chef.
Michael’s passion for baking grew, and the praises continued to roll in.
Cheesecakes became his forte, though he is known to make a mean plate of brownies.
When asked why he developed his preference for cheesecakes, Michael stated, “I fell in love with the process. There is just so much you can do with a cheesecake. With the different kinds of crusts, fillings and toppings, the imagination is the only limit.”
With genuine humility and a passion for his craft, Michael beamed as he told me, “Just tell me your favorite flavor and I’ll make you the best cheesecake you’ve ever had.”
CinnaMan Cheesecake Looking for Restaurant Partners
In 2009, CinnaMan Cheesecakes was born. Michael and Viviane started by catering events, but the demand for their creations has increased.
Having been featured at the Williams-Sonoma Artisans Market at the Arboretum, they are now being asked to expand to the Williams-Sonoma Barton Creek location as well.
But it isn’t just stores that want more of CinnaMan. Those who have enjoyed the company’s unique cheesecakes are asking for increased availability.
In response to the numerous requests, Michael and Viviane are looking to move into wholesale distribution, by partnering with boutique restaurants in Austin. If you own a boutique restaurant and are interested in serving the best cheesecake in Austin, click here.
What You Can Expect From a CinnaMan Cheesecake
Though I’ve tried cheesecake from NYC to California and everywhere in between, it’s not a dessert choice that I personally look forward to. I think it’s the consistency that I’m not a fan of. In all fairness, it’s safe to say I actually dislike cheesecake.
But when Michael and Viviane gave me a sample of CinnaMan, my perspective on cheesecakes was forever changed.
The first sample I had was a delightful and tart Blueberry Crunch. It was my favorite of the samples. Blueberry Crunch featured an oatmeal brown sugar crust, coupled with fresh blueberries and a ridiculously creamy and soft cheesecake filling that melted in my mouth. Paired with a nice Becker Vineyards Moscato wine, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better hand-crafted cheesecake in Austin.
Brittany’s favorite during our sampling was the Chocolate Espresso cheesecake. As I look over her interview notes, she simply wrote “chocolate espresso wow!”
All of the samples we had were nothing short of amazing. When I asked Michael and Viviane which Cinnaman cheesecakes were their favorite, Viviane said that her favorite is the Carrot Cake cheesecake. “I could eat that for breakfast,” she added.
Michael smiled and said, “My favorite right now is the Banana Pudding from last week. It may be the best one I’ve ever made. Vanilla wafer crust, layer of bananas, layer of whole wafers, and honey, with a vanilla cream cheese filling capped with pureed bananas and crushed wafers on top.” Are you salivating yet?
How to Get Your Hands on a CinnaMan Cheesecake
If you are local in Austin, just give CinnaMan Cheesecakes a call. 512-673-0565. If you aren’t local, don’t fret. They ship nationwide. Just remember that they need a little bit of notice, as all of their cheesecakes are made to order.
You can order from Cinnaman Cheesecakes here.
Interviewing Michael and Viviane was a delight. They are so easy to get along with and I’m sure they will work hard to make your experience with them perfect.
What is your favorite dessert in Austin?