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Community Highlights: Meet Maureen Zapata of MZ Creations

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maureen Zapata.

Hi Maureen, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to Miami right after graduating high school. I attended Johnson and Wales University at the North Miami Campus and obtained a degree in Culinary Arts. I then moved to Orlando and worked at Tony’s Town Square restaurant in Magic Kingdom and later the Hard Rock Hotel in Universal Studios. It was while working at the Hard Rock Hotel that I discovered the fascinating world of Baking and Pastry. I learned the basics of baking and pastry at the Hard Rock Hotel but really developed my skills working at Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center. I really enjoyed working there as I had the freedom to design menus, create new desserts options and many chocolate showpieces for displays at events and holidays, among other things.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, my career working in the hotel came to an end. But when one door closes, another one opens and I decided to keep doing what I like to do, which is creating! I had started an Instagram account about two years ago to show some of the work I do and named it MZ Creations as I not only create delicious treats but also craft items. Around August of 2020, I decided to make it into an actual business and started being more active in the account. With the help from friends and family, the account has been growing and so have my content. I really enjoy being able to create something that people can enjoy and be memorable. My favorite thing is to create small menus for each holiday, it is something that I used to do working at the hotel and really miss it. I feel that with the pandemic hitting the Food and Beverage industry, there are a lot of chefs working from their homes in their kitchens still showcasing their passion for food and doing what they love to do.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I do have challenges and I struggle with self-doubt and sometimes things can get overwhelming. I tell myself that this is all a learning experience and take it one day at a time. I do miss working with a team the most. Especially after working with the same people for 12 or 6 years, they become your friends and somewhat part of your family.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about MZ Creations?
I am a pastry chef with over 16 years of experience in baking and pastry. I specialize in baked goods like cakes, cupcakes, macarons and cookies, to mention some. I am most proud of the monthly menus crafted to celebrate either an official or unofficial holiday during each month. For the monthly menus, I try to incorporate a cake, cupcakes, macaron box and treat box options, all themed according to the holiday celebrated that month. I started offering keto-friendly cookies, as I am following the ketogenic diet and they are so delicious that I needed to share them. Even though I create monthly menus with lots of options, I still accept and welcome custom orders for cakes and or cupcakes.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I have learned that people are very eager to help out and invest in small businesses. I’ve had many customers saying that they are happy to support, including local and from out of town as well.

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