Many New York-style cheesecakes (dense cream cheese-based with heavy or sour cream and a graham cracker crust) are often a few bites delicious… and then the unfortunate sensation of a cream cheese brick settles in your gut (I’m especially thinking of you Junior’s). So when I come across a version that is rich tasting but without the ridiculous level of heaviness, it’s a no-brainer subject for an EDP post.
Poppy’s Cheesecake, a Connecticut based e-bakery owned by siblings (who grew up in White Plains) Katherine E. Ginis, chief marketing officer, and Alex Ginis, president/CEO, sells righteous New York-style cheesecakes with hand-formed wraparound graham cracker crusts. The following is with an interview with Katherine E. Ginis on all things cheesecake and where the heck the name “Poppy” came from.
WM: So this is your father’s and grandfather’s recipe?
KG: Our dad, Tom, and his father, Haralambos “Harry” Ginis, have been perfecting this recipe for close to 40 years. Our grandpa always had a fondness for cooking/baking, and he passed that along to our dad. My dad grew up in Queens but had relocated to Detroit when he was 25 to work for Mobil Oil. One day he had an itch to make cheesecake, so he found a recipe to start with, and worked with our grandpa over the phone and in-person when he came back to Queens in order to make it what it is today.
WM: What was the catalyst to start a business and whose idea was it?
KG: The cheesecake was our Dad’s go-to dish when bringing food for any type of party. After a while, people started requesting that he bring the cheesecake, and soon after that, they started requesting he bring more than one so that they could save the leftovers for themselves. Everyone always told my dad that his cakes were so good, that he could sell them. This thought was always with him, but he never acted on it. Right after Christmas in 2013 after hearing similar comments at parties we brought cheesecake to, Alex and I decided that it was time to turn this into a business, and we started looking for a production facility that spring 2014. Dad came aboard as the director of operations.
WM: Why call the business “Poppy’s”?
KG: My brother and I weren’t able to pronounce “Papou” (the Greek word for grandfather) when we were younger, so we started calling him Poppy instead. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 84. He was born in Albania, and immigrated to the United States at the age of 15. He was a maître d at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel on Central Park South in Manhattan for 35 years after serving in the Greek-American unit of the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II. Since Poppy was never able to see the business become a reality, we thought it would be fitting to name the company after him.
WM: Can you tell me any artisan or local ingredients used?
KG: We use only the highest quality ingredients for our cakes, including Ghirardelli cocoa for our chocolate cheesecake and fresh Key limes for our spring/summer seasonal flavor, Key lime. We do not currently use any local ingredients, but hope to be able to do so in the near future.
WM: How would you describe your cheesecake? What is your bestseller?
KG: Our cakes are classic, New York-style cheesecake, which is actually very hard to find nowadays. Our cream cheese based filling is dense, yet creamy. Right now our bestseller is our classic cheesecake, but our seasonal fall flavor, pumpkin, which is offered from around September to January, is quickly becoming a favorite.
WM: What is your earliest memory of eating the cheesecake?
KG: I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t eat my dad’s cheesecake, since he’s been making this recipe since before I was born! I think the first time I tried it and really appreciated how good it was, was at a family Christmas party, when I was about 10 years old.
WM: I see you do events. Can you tell me about the biggest you’ve done?
KG: The Food Bank for Westchester’s An Evening in Good Taste to End Childhood Hunger. This event, held annually at the Atrium in White Plains, brings roughly 700 attendees together for a worthwhile cause. We baked enough cakes for each attendee to sample. Another great event that we’ve done is A Matter of Taste with the Arc of Westchester. Also held annually, this incredible event attracted more than 400 guests, all of whom were able to sample our cake.
WM: What flavors do you offer and are there plans for more in the future?
KG: Original, chocolate, and pumpkin (seasonal). We are hoping to launch in the next few weeks/months peanut butter, salted caramel, coconut, and toasted almond. Additionally, we are starting to play around with different crust flavors for customers who would like to mix and match different fillings and crusts. First up is a chocolate crust, which we think will be a hit with our chocolate and peanut butter fillings. We are also working on chocolate covered cheesecake pops, which will be great for event planners and caterers.
Order a Poppy’s Cheesecake online or try at one of these county businesses: