Photo by Stephanie Breijo
According to Daystar Desserts Bakery, the world’s best cheesecake isn’t created in Italy, France, or Belgium, but right next door in Ashland. That city, dubbed “the Center of the Universe,” is Daystar’s home base. Founded in 1957 by Sansbury “Cotton” Sweeney, the company has been producing the trademarked “World’s Best Cheesecake” in Virginia for 57 years.
Daystar has joined forces with website building powerhouse Data Directions, shipping and customer service company BHVA Ventures, and PR company Madison+Main to launch WorldsBestCheesecake.com, which opened its proverbial doors on Nov. 18. The web start-up provides Daystar’s delicious desserts to retail customers across the country.
Daystar’s CEO, John Fernandez, is a former Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year and a highly decorated pastry chef. Originally from New York, he bought the company in 2004. Daystar produces 4-pound, classic New York-style cheesecakes inspired by Fernandez’s background. There are currently a dozen flavors available year-round and one or two seasonal flavors every few months. (Turtle Cheesecake is winter’s flavor.)
The company uses no preservatives, preferring to freeze each day’s freshly made cheesecakes and ship them frozen to consumers. This commitment to freshness and food quality translates to their shipping: The cheesecakes are packed in dry ice and coolers rather than the ammonium silicate-filled cold packs commonly used by other companies.
All the cheesecakes are made exclusively with local ingredients — even the spices are locally provided by the Richmond-based C.F. Sauer Co. “We’re very careful to buy local. It’s a Virginia product through-and-through — it was invented in Arlington in 1957; made today in Ashland; shipped out of Midlothian,” said Dave Saunders, chief idea officer at Madison+Main.
The cheesecakes that Daystar offers are among the largest in the marketplace: “The kind of cheesecake you get from the store is going to be a 2-pounder; this is a 4-pound cheesecake. Most of our competitors don’t ship a 4-pound cheesecake,” Saunders declared proudly.
If you want to sample the wares before you place an order, The World’s Best Cheesecakes can be found locally at Libbie Market and Chesterfield Berry Farm. Next year, the cheesecakes will be in several area restaurants as well.