Sweet surprise

Sweet surprise

UF veterinary student (and cupcake extraordinaire) makes whirlwind appearance on The Martha Stewart Show

By Sarah Carey

UF College of Veterinary Medicine student Nicki Puza appeared on The Martha Stewart Show in April to showcase how to make her specialty cupcakes. Photo courtesy of The Martha Stewart Show.

When veterinary student Nicki Puza baked her now-famous “turkey cupcakes” last Thanksgiving to cheer up her busy classmates, who were in the middle of taking their national licensure examinations, little did she know the sweet, freeform birds would end up flying her to New York for an appearance on The Martha Stewart Show April 10.

After Puza shared the cupcakes with her class, her classmate, Stacey West, sent a photo to her uncle, an executive with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, who in turn shared the photo with Martha Stewart herself.

“She fell in love with them,” Puza said.

West then forwarded additional photos of all of Puza’s unique cupcakes, which resemble everything from rubber ducks to blood cells. Her turkey cupcakes are particularly difficult to make because they don’t have special molds and must be created freehand.

“They offered me tickets to see the show, but when Martha found out I would be in the New York City area, she requested that I be a guest on the show instead,” Puza said. “The whole process from there was surreal and a blur. I spent the next afternoon, just five days before the show, on the phone with various producers and assistants. I was immediately blown away by how kind and energetic and outgoing they all were.”

At the studio, Puza met the producer and took part in a quick rehearsal. The baker pre-baked her cupcakes as well as her brownies, but Puza dyed all of her frosting in the studio kitchen and prepared a model cupcake for the baker to follow. Then, she was whisked to hair and make-up.

“That was when it finally hit me,” Puza said. “I realized I would soon be on stage baking with THE Martha Stewart. Who can say that?”

She met Stewart on stage in the commercial break before her segment.

“She was lovely, so calm and kind,” Puza said. “She complimented my cupcakes and said she was so glad to finally meet me.”

The two chatted about the potential for Puza to write a cupcake book or magazine article with the show and were guided to their positions for the segment.

“I had no script and had never practiced exactly what to say,” Puza said. “I had a few pointers on things to mention, like the recipes being on Martha’s website and the brownies being easiest to cut when cold.

“The six minutes on camera were the fastest of my life.”

The cupcakes featured on the show were baked in the shape of cheeseburgers.

Afterward, Puza and her family toured the Creative Headquarters, which houses “everything Martha,” from Stewart’s personal office to the inner workings of her magazines.

Puza has received many emails from people associated with the show, thanking her for coming and suggesting the possibility of future appearances.

“I know there is a potential to make it go further than just a hobby, but for now I need to focus on my veterinary career,” Puza said. “I’ll be starting in June as a small animal medicine/surgery rotating intern at the University of Missouri, where I’ll have lots of unsuspecting new guinea pigs to try out new cupcakes on.”