The first time Linda Santoso tasted a home-made marshmallow, she couldn’t believe how light and fluffy a marshmallow could be. She was inspired to share her new-found discovery with her family and friends, which led to the creation of her very own home-made marshmallow business: Li’l Puffs.

After 15 years immersed in the tech industry, Santoso rediscovered her passion for baking and decided to pursue a Baking Arts & Pastry diploma at the Professional Culinary Institute. In 2007, she began Color Me Sweet, a petite dessert business that quickly attracted nationwide clientele.

Riding the momentum from Color Me Sweet, Santoso founded Li’l Puffs in 2010, selling multiple flavors of homemade marshmallows. She can be found at the Evergreen Farmers Market on Sundays with Li’l Puffs in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mango, pineapple and a number of other flavors, along with vegetarian and vegan varieties.

Name: Linda Santoso
Age: 41
Occupation: Owner of Li’l Puffs

How long have you lived and worked in San Jose?
I’ve lived and worked in San Jose since 1994.

What do you like most about San Jose?
I love the wide diversity of people and food. There’s no one place in the world where you can find such a wide varying of culture and gastric pleasures than in the Bay Area. The weather is definitely a plus, too.

When did you first become interested in baking?
Probably when I was old enough to turn on the oven on, about seven years old. I’ve been baking off and on since.

How did you start making your own marshmallows?
It was after my culinary classmate introduced me to a homemade marshmallow. It was amazing. I never knew marshmallows could taste that light and they melt in your mouth. I’ve always thought they were chewy like the kind you buy in the stores.

What is your favorite thing about your job?
Food chemistry. I still have a little bit of a geek in me so I love experimenting with new flavors and recipes.

How do you like to spend your free time when you aren’t baking?
I love all outdoor activities, so when I’m not in the kitchen I’m usually outdoors gardening, playing tennis, and exploring new places in the Bay Area with my husband.

What are some of your favorite places in San Jose?
I love the atmosphere of the Evergreen Farmers’ Market where I sell my marshmallows every Sunday. It’s a family-friendly community where families hang out for the day. I also love how downtown San Jose is continuing to evolve, especially San Pedro Square.

Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in San Jose?
Tracy Lee of Dishcrawl. I first met Tracy while we were both working at Brocade. She has amazing energy and I’ve never known anyone to be as excited as her when she talks about food.

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