By GWEN SISSON
It was her grandmother who had an influential role on her attitude about cooking.
When Heather McGinn was a little girl, her grandmother taught her to develop a sense of taste.
“Some people just have a better taste for things,” McGinn said. “My grandmother helped me recognize what flavors blend well together.”
She remembers her first kitchen “creation.” McGinn was 6 years old, she made stuffed baked potatoes from her own recipe. She said everything would have gone well, if the carrots had been thoroughly cooked.
“Those hard carrots were not a good thing,” McGinn said.
But she did not let that early setback deter her experimentation in the kitchen. Today, she is developing quite a reputation throughout the Starkville community for her baking, and she still experiments with flavor variations.
This week, she is working on an “Arnold Palmer” cupcake, inspired by the drink. Consisting of half iced tea and half lemonade, the drink often called a “half and half” is named for golfer Arnold Palmer. The lemon cupcakes turned out fine, but she is working out the details of the iced tea flavored frosting.
Her mocha cappuccino cupcakes feature chocolate cupcakes with a cream cheese, sour cream and cocoa filling, topped with mocha cappuccino-flavored buttercream icing sprinkled with coffee grounds or toffee. The flavors are subtle but impactful.
She is inspired by cooking shows, and uses the inspiration for her own creations. As a result, she makes cake pops and creates a variety of small cakes that push her level of creativity.
“Who doesn’t like cake?” McGinn said. “Cake is good. The frosting is good. Cake is such a big part of our culture these days. We have cake for everything.”
She loves cupcakes and cake pops, and says making cakes truly is a labor of love.
“It gets labor intensive when you consider trimming down the cake, making the frosting and the fondant, cooling the cake,” McGinn said. “It takes a while.”
But her friends and family agree that it is worth the wait.
“(Her cakes and cupcakes) are fantastic,” said friend Sara Lamb. “Not only does her food look good, all of the flavors...everything is homemade and tastes great. It all looks like something you would buy in a store somewhere. She really takes a lot of time with what she does.”
Shane Warren loves her mocha cappuccino cupcakes and all of the “trimmings” from the cakes she makes. He loves everything McGinn cooks, but says he rarely makes the same thing twice.
McGinn is a big believer in organic, local, seasonal vegetarian cooking. And despite the fact that Warren loves her apple pies, her Rhode Island upbringing comes through and she only makes the pies in the fall.
“It’s a fall fruit,” McGinn said laughing. “I love cooking with what is fresh and locally available. I try to have everything as natural as possible.”
Her love of food has developed into a small-scale catering business she calls Cake Tease. She doesn’t take on large projects, but her cake pops, cupcakes and small cakes are a hit for baby showers, children’s parties and other events.
For more information about Cake Tease, call McGinn at 601-604-3975 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org . Also follow McGinn’s food blog at www.CuteCook.tumblr.com  or http://CuteCook.tumblr.com .