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Questioning the Locals | Sandi Meinsen

WHO: Sandi Meinsen, 29
WHAT: Cupcake queen, duchess of desserts, owner of Dessert First
LIVES: Eau Claire
IN THE VALLEY FOR: 5 years


Sandi grew up in California, surrounded by beaches and sushi, but made the move to Wisconsin to become UW-Stout’s community development coordinator. In those four years, however, a little voice inside her head told her that Eau Claire was deprived of gourmet baked goods and really good carrot cake, so she started Dessert First.


What is your most inventive cupcake creation? Either the Red Hot Cinnamon (vanilla cake with chili powder and cayenne pepper, topped with buttercream and crushed red hots) or the Caramel Apple (apple cake filled with caramel, topped with apple buttercream and caramel).

Any dessert-creation horror stories or recipes gone wrong?
If I tell you, will you still come to our shop? In the very early days, we got the salt and sugar confused in a batch of cookie dough...we baked them, served them, and sold one! Luckily it was bought by a good friend of the bakery and he let us know...now we call him “Salty.”

What other dessert would be good in cup form?
A banana split —messy, but good!
Is the Chippewa Valley getting the sweets it deserves? Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the DF oven.

Be honest, how do you feel about Swiss Cake Rolls? Honestly, what the heck is a Swiss Cake Roll? Any relation to the Ho Ho?

What place in town considers you a “regular?”
For the sake of location, Pizza Plus and Bottle and Barrel take good care of me while I am next door. I lost my status at a lot of late night establishments when I started to claim 10pm as my bedtime.

What frustrates you about the Chippewa Valley? Does it have to snow so much in the winter and does the city really need to be completely under construction when it melts?

What is one of the best cultural experiences you’ve ever had in the Chippewa Valley? I am torn between my first deer hunting season and trying my first brat and batch of cheese curds. You try moving to Wisconsin and having all these things to learn!

What is your favorite piece of local trivia?  We are the only town that runs the storm sirens when it sprinkles.

Death bed, one meal from a local restaurant, what would it be? Gotta say the wrapped filet from Houligan’s, medium rare, with some of those sour cream mashed potatoes on the side.

Water Street or downtown? Downtown. I remind myself that I am too old for Water Street.

What book, TV show, or movie would you recommend to the members of City Council? Sesame Street, where it’s always a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

What sort of economic development would you like to see in our area? On a serious note; we really need a convention center or arena so the Backstreet Boys can come to town.

Who is the greatest Wisconsinite of all time? Would I sound cool if I said Brett Favre or Vince Lombardi? Are they even Wisconsinites?

If you could rename Eau Claire with a different French name, what would it be? It wouldn’t matter what it was as long as it was something easy, and something the sales people and telemarketers outside the tri-state area could pronounce.