Golden Opportunity

Anna Alfarez’s cookies have been the highlight of her kids’ birthday parties for years, but recently they played a starring role at a pre-Oscar party.

Last month, the Lindsay mom was the talk of at least one Hollywood party as actors, producers, agents and rising stars raved about her Oscar-shaped cookies.

“It’s kind of like a dream,” Alfarez said. “I keep saying to myself, ‘Did this really happen?’”

Alfarez said she has only been baking cookies and cupcakes for the last nine years while being a stay at home mother to her four children ages 6, 8, 10 and 12. She said it began as a hobby to make and decorate cookies for her children’s birthday parties. Family members began to take samples to friends who started calling Alfarez to bake for their events and eventually made their way to plates in Hollywood.

“It’s more of a passion than a hobby now,” Alfarez said.

While the Oscar-shaped, gold sugar coated cookies were a huge success, Alfarez said she isn’t sure her business, Sweet Confections, is ready for storefront. The Tonyville native said she has a bachelor’s degree in education and is considering getting her master’s degree to be a guidance counselor. But she might consider making cookies to help pay for school.

“I may do events now and then but I want to make sure it is all set up for the business,” she said. “I’m not ready to give up my kids sports and PTO but I will always have time to bake for friends and family.”

 

TC Film Commission

Alfarez’s cookies were part of a group of locally made items packaged by the Tulare County Film Commissioner as Hollywood “swag” given out at one of the most prestigious pre-parties on Feb. 23 before the Academy Awards. The Tulare County contingent was one of 16 booths invited to display at the Borgnine Movie Star Gala. The event is put on by Nancee Borgnine, founder of The Borgnine Group – the premier special event and celebrity gifting suite provider for more than 10 years — and daughter of screen legend Ernest Borgnine.

Held at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Event Center in Studio City, the gala held special meaning after the passing of Borgning last year and its first ever Ernie Award, given to Borgnine’s friend and fellow Academy Award winner Sean Penn. Due to the significance of this year’s event, there were many celebrities and Hollywood producers at the event.

Tulare County Film Commissioner Eric Coyne said Tulare County got the invite thanks to former Lindsay City Councilwoman and current Tulare County Economic Development Corporation Chair Suzi Picasso

“Through Suzi and partnerships with businesses we were able to make this happen for a lot less than what many others would have paid,” Coyne said.

After selling her Suzi Q Cosmetics makeup line in 2009, Picasso went to work for Nancee Borgnine. Founded in 2009, the Borgnine Group puts on premier special events/award show gifting suites that enable companies of all sizes to put their products in the hands of today’s hottest celebrity influencers. The success of the Borgnine Group is one of the reasons Picasso stepped down from the Lindsay City Council in 2010.

“She has always believed in my product,” Alfarez said. “I am grateful for what Suzi has given me. I think that lady rocks.”

Alfarez said the exposure has prompted people to ask if she will start her own bakery or continue to work from home. She said she is not ready to give up being a stay at home mom, but as her children get older she might consider starting a mobile bakery.

“I would love to have a business where I could bake, set it up at an event and then clean up and come home,” she said. “I want the option of saying no and being with my family.”

Coyne said each product included the Film Commission’s website and with a message saying, “Consider filming your next project in Tulare County.” Coyne said the idea is that film financier’s looking to save on travel, lodging and food might consider something as close as Tulare County.

“There isn’t anywhere else, especially in California, where can find all of this agriculture, the big trees and mountains,” Coyne said.

Coyne said he made three solid contacts for possible film projects including one from Fox Productions, one from Kevin Sorbo (Hercules the Legendary Journeys) about shooting a Western in Balch Park and another interested in shooting scenes inside a citrus packinghouse.

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