You might call Mike McCants a bit of a serial entrepreneur. The lifelong Westchester resident (born and raised in White Plains, now in Croton) and father of six owns unisex salon MDM Styling in White Plains and branding and marketing firm The Ubique Group in Croton. He also previously ran CADD Masters (a home, commercial design, and construction firm), MDM Fitness, and Zippy Couriers. McCants Mini Cheesecake, founded this year, is just the latest addition to his growing portfolio.
Mike, along with his chef and older brother Henry, are selling the 4-oz jars of hand-blended mini cheesecakes at area farmers’ markets as well as online. It’s been so successful thus far that they are opening a store at 4 Martine Avenue in White Plains on October 1, where they’ll expand their offerings to include pastries, salads, sandwiches, and gourmet coffee.
We spoke to the brothers (over some cheesecake, of course) about their sweet new business.
So, why cheesecake?
Henry: I’ve been experimenting with various recipes and styles since I was in [culinary] school. It’s a modern twist on a classic recipe.
Yours is served in jars. Is it baked sous-vide style?
Henry: The cheesecakes are baked in a water bath and sealed after cooling. Not the traditional sous-vide method but close.
Henry, what’s occupational background? Any culinary training?
Henry: I’m an executive chef with a Culinary Degree from SUNY Cobleskill. I’ve served as an assistant teacher in Baking, Catering and Restaurants at SUNY Cobleskill and Southern Westchester BOCES. I have more than 25 years of industry experience.
What’s the advantage of serving your product in jars?
Mike: Having kids and always on the go, single serving and portable are must haves. The jars are a clean and neat way to have a delicious dessert.
Approximately how many jars do you sell in a given month?
Mike: We sell around 800 jars a month at the Stamford Farmers’ Market. On a good day at a [Kensico] Dam festival, we can move around 500 units.
What is the retail price per jar?
Mike: $3.99 for each cheesecake—but you get the jar for free.
Where is the commercial kitchen where the cheesecakes are baked?
Henry: After our initial success and demand started rising, we started baking out of Hana Kitchens in Brooklyn.
What are the flavor options?
Mike: Strawberry, espresso, caramel, cookies & cream, chocolate, and homestyle.
Any flavors tried in R&D that didn’t make the cut?
Henry: We tried peanut butter as well as s’mores—both were delicious, but the demand wasn’t there.
What are you referring to when you list “finest ingredients” on your site?
Henry: Local and fresh is our biggest concern. We’ve experimented with a variety of ingredients, but taste and freshness will always be the driving factor.
How do you feel about no-crust vs. crust cheesecake? Some people say it’s not cheesecake without one.
Henry: By placing the crust at the bottom of the jar, we can ensure that the no-crust lovers can enjoy it just as much as the people that love our great graham cracker and Oreo crusts.