with Maria Apodaca
Our Deeply Rooted series highlights the people and businesses that make Modesto special – whether 5th generation or a recent arrival. It’s all about embracing the values, amenities and benefits of our community and making them part of something, or someone, you don’t want others to miss out on and for locals to be proud of.
Recently we met with Maria Apodaca, owner of Mocha Magic on 16th Street in Downtown.
Maria is a Modesto native and has been baking for friends & family since the age of seven. Upon graduation from Modesto Junior College, Maria began her career in the bakery industry working at Old Tyme Pastries for 20 years.
When Maria is not at the bakeshop, you can find her at the tennis courts or in the garden with her many bunnies.
Not only is Mocha Magic on our Local Gems list, but Maria’s story is truly a testament to the people and flavors that make Modesto great. Don’t miss out on the video with more great stories – and one that’ll bring tears to your eyes!
Read below for our interview with Maria and follow Mocha Magic on social @mochamagic.cafe.bakeshop!
How deep are your roots in Modesto?
I’m a second-generation Modestan. My Dad came here to work on the peach and grape farm my Grandfather managed.
How did you get started with baking?
I started baking when I was 7 after my Mom got me an EZ Bake oven. I was more interested in the light bulb baking a cake but not melting the plastic. I graduated to the big oven making banana bread out of a Sesame Street Cookbook. Then I moved on to cakes …and found out I could make money at baking.
What’s the difference between baking and cooking?
There’s more chemistry involved in baking. You don’t have to measure spices when you are cooking you do it to what you like. If you mess up your ratios of baking soda, salt, flour and egg…catastrophe!
How did you end up being the owner of Mocha Magic?
People kept telling me to do my own thing. I drove all around Modesto looking for a location. I kept hearing ‘downtown, downtown, downtown. One day my friend texted me and said “you know that place on 16th, it’s available” and I called that same day. We closed the deal within two months.
What’s the toughest request you’ve received?
The biggest request we get are for things that are not baked they are fried…like beignets.
What is the menu item that never caught on?
Eclairs. I love eclairs…nobody bought them we took them off the menu!
How far do your visitors come from?
We’ve had people from France, Germany, Columbia, Connecticut and Arkansas. They say, “I wish we had something like this where we are!”
What’s the story behind the rabbit in your logo and on the walls?
I got a rabbit for my 10th birthday and I can’t do anything simple. It had to have a hat and a condo and birthday parties. To this day I still have rabbits…they’re just my thing!