VAIL - There should be a Nobel Prize for cupcake chemistry and Lauren Smith should win it.
Smith walked away from a boring career in biotech to move to Vail, ski and make cupcakes. She opened Mountain Cupcakes earlier this month in Vail Village. The kitchen is on site so it smells like deliciousness the minute you walk in the door.
"I've had the greatest reviews from people sitting here eating cupcakes," Smith said.
Her dad eats Kara's Cupcakes in San Francisco and likes his daughter's better, as he should. And if you can't trust your dad, whom can you trust?
One woman from New York City told her it was the best cupcake in this spiral arm of the universe - or words to that effect.
Smith's mom works in the restaurant industry. Her grandfather was a winemaker in Sonoma.
"There's chemistry and food that runs in my blood," Smith said.
Let's discuss chocolate covered bacon. She makes that. It's chocolate covered bacon on a stick, and that's everything you need to know to realize that the quest for the Holy Grail was worth it because it had chocolate covered bacon on a stick in it.
For your canine companions, there's the dog treat, sugar free Bacon Peanut Barker.
Then there's "The Man Cake," a chocolate bacon cupcake with Guinness, bacon, more chocolate with maple cream cheese frosting, topped with caramelized bacon and chocolate bacon bark.
And if you must get your daily serving of those pesky fruits, there's the chocolate blueberry filled cupcake with chocolate blueberry icing.
You can even make your own cupcake - six different cake options and lots and lots of icing choices.
Smith earned her chemistry degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
"Like everyone who has chemistry degree, I went into bio tech," she said.
And like almost everyone else, she hated it. She spent four and a half years at it in California's Marin County, long enough that she was in charge of other people who didn't care for it much either.
"You get paid so well for doing nothing, $25 an hour to watch a pressure gauge," she said.
When word got out she was leaving, her employer offered her a promotion and a raise, she said.
Thanks, but no thanks, she said, and headed to Vail. She landed a job on the Cascade's front desk with a lift right outside the hotel's front door.
She opened the Vail Daily and saw a story about the Beaver Creek cookie competition. She figured baking is chemistry and science and said to herself, "Hey, I can do that!"
So she did.
That was around the time of her fifth knee surgery. She was a gymnast; competed on her college diving team; raced on a ski team; jumped off a cliff; and crashed a snowmobile - each with pretty much the same results as far as her right ACL is concerned.
This last surgery took about a year and a half to heal, so she had some time on her hands.
Among other things, she started baking cookies and cupcakes. As she wandered around Vail she noticed there weren't any cupcake shops, unlike the San Francisco Bay Area from whence she came.
"There are tons of cupcakes shops around San Francisco. There's a shortage of that in Vail," she said.
Like the entrepreneur she is, she filled that niche with cupcake batter.
She sold some in local farmers markets and opened her store in Vail Village earlier this month.
When we caught up to her she was mixing strawberry frosting and fussing that it had too much sugar. She fixed it by waving some sort of magic wand over it and putting in more stuff. But then she explained that there is no such thing as too much sugar.
She's a chemist to her very marrow, and like all science, she figured out a way to make it perfect.
Farmers markets kicked off last weekend in Eagle and Vail and start up in Minturn this coming Saturday and she'll be at all of them.
As for marketing, she wants to put her friends in cupcake suits and send them skiing. This winter's plan includes deliveries up Vail Mountain to skiers and staff.
"You get to take a few runs and make people happy," she said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.