Dessert Professional magazine proudly presents the Top 10 Cake Artists in North America for 2016.
The editors of Dessert Professional magazine are proud to present this year’s list of the Top Ten Cake Artists in North America, awarded to cake professionals whose dedication to their craft has ensured that the cake continues to be our premier celebratory dessert.
The honorees include artists of varied backgrounds, from from career changers to professionals who gained fame through televised cake competitions to instructors in the field of cake decoration. Whatever their path to success, each of our award winners is a role model for the industry, promoting and re-imagining our favorite symbol of celebration, the cake. Following are profiles of each of this year’s Top Ten Cake Artists.
- Carrie Biggers-Burnett
- Lori Cossou
- Michelle “Mitchie” Curran
- Gabrielle Feuersinger
- Jean-Rony Fougere
- Nadine Moon
- Bryson Perkins
- Jay Qualls
- Benny Rivera
- Avalon Yarnes
Carrie’s CakesOwners: Carrie Biggers-Burnett and Robert Burnett
1454 E. Ridgemark Drive, Sandy, Utah 84092
801-571-1620 • www.carriescakes.com
Training: I am self-taught, with hands-on training. Initially, many years ago, I found my best information in books written by Colette Peters and Margaret Braun, who were my “cake idols”. Since that time, I have traveled all over the country to attend classes taught by many excellent, talented teachers.
Cake philosophy: Cakes are front and center at all of life’s happiest occasions. Cakes should be the “hit of the party” to be displayed and adored and then devoured! It must be equally as delicious as it is beautiful.
Inspiration: In 1978 I took a cake decorating class at a local middle school, because I wanted to make fun cakes for my kid’s birthdays. I quickly learned that I had an ability and became obsessed with practicing throughout the night to perfect my piping skills and master piping a buttercream rose! Any occasion was an excuse to make someone a cake just for the practice. Eventually people started asking me to make wedding cakes, and it evolved into a full-time profession.
How long have you been in business? I became licensed and insured, and built a commercial kitchen 22 years ago. I am very blessed to have a supportive, dedicated, extremely talented team to work with. We are unquestionably a team and I am only the team captain. This is what makes working so fun, the great people I work with. Each person contributes with their individual talents and abilities. Our work is totally a team effort.
Signature style: My look is very clean and precise. I most enjoy creating something feminine, romantic, with lace and flowers, fabric draping, bows and beads, with a touch of whimsy that makes you smile.
Most unique cake: To celebrate a 100-year anniversary for a landmark building in Salt Lake City, we were asked to create a five-foot high replica of the Walker Center Tower, including 750 cut-out windows, revolving glass doors (sugar syrup, of course), and even the iconic flashing lights on the top.
Favorite cake ever: A friend who is a wedding coordinator asked me to make her own wedding cake. She gave me permission to do whatever I wanted and “surprise her”. It had to be extraordinary and amazing! I had a great time doing it for her because I had total artistic license! I also love making cakes for Icing Smiles. Giving children a brief moment of joy during such trying times in their family is very satisfying. If you aren’t already involved, I recommend you look into it. It is one small way to pay it forward.
Greatest triumph: In addition to making people so happy with their celebration cakes, I love teaching. I have had many, many students from all over the country and internationally come to take my classes. It is a joy to share this art and love of decorating. We have formed life-long friendships and I consider my cake friends family.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? The difference is like night and day. Cake decorating is definitely an art form in every way. Now there are so many new products, new tools and techniques. Tutorials are so widely available to learn and to grow. The bar is constantly being raised to new heights. I am so amazed at the young people now entering the business with wonderful art backgrounds and such incredible creativity.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? There are no limits to “thinking outside the box”. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, someone comes up with something even more exciting and innovative.
Favorite quote: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” –Anonymous
Lori’s Creative Cakes & Cookies518 Commercial, Oswego, KS 67356
Training: I don’t have any formal culinary or art training. I am mostly self-taught from trial and error, numerous books, and a few classes from wonderful sugar artists like Alan Dunn, Karen Portaleo, Nicholas Lodge, Stephen Benison, and Eleanor Rielander.
Cake philosophy: Your cake should taste as good as it looks. If it is beautiful, but doesn’t taste good, what is the point?
Inspiration: I have always been creative. At a young age, I remember spending wonderful days in the kitchen helping my Grandma cook. She taught me to make pies and cookies. I was also the youngest of three girls, and a definite “Daddy’s girl”, so at the age of nine or 10, I would always make special cakes and cookies for my dad. Cake decorating seemed to be a natural transition when I became a mother and began making my own children’s and family’s celebration cakes. One thing led to another, and now I get to make cakes for my grandchildren!
How long have you been in business? I have been in business 19 years. I started my business in my garage when my husband, Rob, and I converted it into a bakery. After a couple of years there, we moved and started the shop in a small rental building. For the past 15 years, I have been in a 3600 square foot building on the main street of town where I make custom cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, and we have 9 different types of cookies baked fresh daily.
Signature style: My style tends to lean toward delicate, intricate, and ornate designs, usually mixed with a little bit of vintage style. My “signature” decoration would definitely be string work. I could spend hours piping the tiny fragile lines of string work or extension work (good thing, since it takes LOTS of hours to do!) I also love to try to figure out new ways to incorporate string work.
Most unique cake: My most unique cake might have been the life-sized replica of a deer mount for a groom’s cake. In my area, I don’t get to do many extravagant cakes, OR many sculpted ones. This order came in as a last minute request. I wasn’t sure I had time to do all the planning it would require to do such a challenging cake, however, my husband happened to be there when the client came in and pleaded with me. Of course, he spoke up and said, “Oh, honey, you can do it!” Easy for him to say! Well, he had to help me build the stand and figure out the structure. This is when a cake decorator needs to be an engineer, a baker, an artist, a sculptor, and a painter, and have nerves of steel when it comes time to transport it! Well, after three long days of working on the cake, “Elliott” was the first cake I actually did not want to see cut!
Favorite flavors and colors: My favorite flavor right now is either chocolate or lemon. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with either! My favorite color would probably be any color accented with gold.
Favorite cake ever: It’s hard to pick just one, but I’d probably say my 2007 entry, “A Tribute to Elegance” for the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show. Just one year before, I had surgery to repair several ruptured tendons in my right hand. I took pictures of my cakes and showed them to my surgeon, pointing to the string work, and said, “I HAVE to be able to do that again!” So after surgery, recovery, and a couple of months of physical therapy, I went all out and created the five tier cake which was decorated in black and white with pink sugar paste Audrey Hepburn Daylilies. It was embellished with several tiers of black string work. With that cake, it was me saying “I’M BACK!” I was so happy to be able to do the piping again, and then when I received the Grand Prize, that was the “icing on the cake”!
Most challenging project: My most challenging cake project may have been in 2005 when Brides Magazine asked me to design a cake for their event, The Cake Walk. I only had less than a month to design it, create it, and transport it to New York City. Along with two of my friends who were also selected, we transported our cakes from Texas and Oklahoma, picked up another friend’s cake in Missouri, and drove to New York City. My cake was the only cake with the fragile string work on it, so I stressed over every single bump or turn in the road on the way there. It arrived just fine, so once we were there, it was photographed, then packed back up and transported to Grand Central Station where it was going to be on display for the public. In the meantime, I had to fly back home for my daughter Lindsey’s high school graduation! I returned to New York in time for the event. My cake was only on display for about an hour when someone just had to touch the string work. Needless to say, it shattered. I then proceeded to repair the string work while hundreds of people watched! That was nerve wracking!
Biggest disaster: My biggest cake disaster happened several years ago when my next door business neighbor asked me to do a wedding cake for his daughter. Her wedding was at the end of July, and they were having the reception in their brand new shop building he had just had built at their farm. The cake was five tiers and all buttercream. I didn’t find out until the week of the wedding that the building was not air conditioned. It was only going to be around 100 degrees that weekend! I told him we needed to do something else because the cake would not survive in the heat. He said that I could set up the cake in the office inside the building since it was air conditioned and then move it to the reception table when the reception started. The table was only a few feet away from the office. We got the cake set up in the office, then ran an errand waiting for the reception time to move the cake. When we came back, we found that all of the doors to the building had been closed up, so it was like a furnace in there! Chocolate decorations they had on the table were melted! As soon as we brought the cake out from the air conditioned room, the buttercream started melting and the cakes began to slide. This caused the dowels to tip over as the cakes slid, and the cake to collapse into the tier below. By the time we got the cake onto the table, we had to lift off the top three tiers and scoop out the 4th tier, completely removing it onto a tray. I then had to do my best to repair the damage and we placed the top three tiers back onto the bottom tier. All of this was happening while the guests were arriving so they were all watching. It was a cake decorator’s worst nightmare!
Greatest triumph: My greatest triumph was at the 2015 Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show when I won my third “Grand” title! No one had ever won three times, so that was my ultimate goal, although I truly never thought it would happen!
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? When I started decorating cakes, I didn’t even know what fondant was. We didn’t have the Internet, so everything I learned was from books – mostly the Wilton Yearbooks. All cakes were frosted and decorated in piped buttercream. If you wanted to get really fancy, you would make decorations and special flowers in royal icing. Now, cakes are usually covered in fondant and decorated with fondant cutouts or fondant shaped into a mold, sometimes with no piping at all. Also, if you need ideas, you can just look online. If you want to know how something is done, there is a video to show you how! Also, with the many shows on television these days, clients are asking for more elaborate designs.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? Although fondant covered cakes are still popular, I see a lot of brides wanting to go back to the beautifully adorned cakes with elegant piped details. Many decorators also will opt for the short-cut, but beautiful methods of using lace mats or stencils to get a similar look. Years ago, the brides seemed to think that bigger was better, however, now many brides are happy with a smaller cake with more detail.
Personal quote: “A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.”
Mitchies MunchiesNorth Las Vegas, NV
702-551- CAKE (2253) • www.mitchiesmunchies.com
Training: I often joke I am classically ‘Google’ trained. I’ve purchased countless books and magazines, and when Cake Camp made its way to Las Vegas every two years, I would crash-course an entire weekend with as much technique as I could afford. I would scour over the list of class choices from some of the country’s most talented and recognized instructors, curating an itinerary that would benefit my skill-set and business later. I haven’t had the means or support to attend culinary school. It’s something I’ve thought about for years, but now have grown quite content with my sometimes hap-hazard way of doing things. When it comes to kitchen prep, codes, and standards, I am ‘by the book’. I discover things accidentally, by trying, through friends, and developing my own techniques.
Cake philosophy: I won’t sell anything I won’t eat. And I don’t offer items you can easily acquire at a local grocery store bakery. Taste matters as much as what is on the outside. I fancy flavor profiling. Rather than muddling flavored cake with buttercream, my menu is streamlined with two of my perfected basic cake recipes and it’s all about the filling! I am a bit of a buttercream snob (or, as we say in Mitchaneeze, ‘SCHnob’). The buttercream has to taste and feel good, not linger with discomfort later. If you can feel it on the roof of your mouth or teeth later, it’s “no dice”, no good. Nuts and coconut are NUTZ and (in my opinion) are too much work for your mastication process. Your teeth deserve a dessert that will leave them relaxed and happy and not bothered by the tongue picking at that tail end of coconut stuck between your molars….I want your last bite to be an unexpected disappointment as in ‘I can’t believe that was my last bite, there’s no way?!’
Inspiration: I’ve always been fond of arts and crafts and food since I was a child. The very first Mitchies Munchies began in my wooden kitchen at the age of five, where I would write down my family’s custom “food” orders on mini paper pads with pencil, then hand-sculpt their requests with clay dough. My day was in absolute ruin when my mom insisted on cramming “fried eggs” and “hamburgers” back into their cardboard can with the rusty bottoms (I’m aging myself). My Grandmom baked very basic Bundts, zucchini loaves/muffins and an occasional cookie batch. She would never let me in the kitchen to help; after I insisted on peeling a carrot myself when I was four (I still have the scar to prove it). I had zero tolerance for my lightbulb operated oven so I would sneak under the kitchen table to watch my “G-mom”. I know she knew I was there, but she never let on. When no one was around, that’s when I would prowl into the kitchen and experiment. I burned countless pots and pans hidden until trash day, and then I would bury them to the bottom so no one would know what I was up to. I likely owe my mom at least three full sets of cookware. Then I got better, and found baking was my niche. My “artist brain” has led me on many adventures before committing to this life of a cake artist. I was a visual arts major set to work in the fashion industry designing window and department store displays (The movie Mannequin was very popular when I was growing up). As years progressed, I continued baking and creating stuff. And then a magazine in a craft store turned my head and I saw my two worlds combine into edible art; I was hooked. At first, it was mere practice, another hobby like most fellow cakers began. Somewhere in 2010, I stumbled across a story online about a terminally ill child who received a cake for her birthday from a nonprofit called Icing Smiles, Inc. Without hesitation, I applied to be a volunteer Sugar Angel. I wanted to share my cakes and make smiles too. Nearly two years had passed and my hobby was going bananas. A friend said you should at least showcase your cakes online, you don’t have to sell them. And then my relative was showing her co-worker my website, and then she wanted to buy a cake. And then their friend who went to their friend’s shindig saw my cake and showed his cousin who said his girlfriend’s Aunt is getting married and needs a cake! Just as I am soaking all of this in and processing the thought of opening a shop I receive my first “call into action” from Icing Smiles on 1/9/12.
How long have you been in business? Mitchies Munchies “Artistic treats you can eat!” has officially been licensed in the state of Nevada, serving it up since January, 2012. The initial 18 months of my business were spent renting a commercial share kitchen, I learned more hands on than I likely expected and my cons outweighed my pros. I lost a great deal of money in my start-up, supplies were “borrowed” and never returned, and I was ridiculed by other bakers—‘Why are you doing it that way?’ I persevered, cake art was my craft first, not just my job. I teamed up with several state officials including our State Senator who sponsored our petition for a Cottage Law into a state bill. On a Tuesday, March 19, 2012, I stood before the Legislative Committee and spoke on behalf of all Nevada home bakers and food entrepreneurs to allow the bill to be passed into law. And again on May 13, 2012, I stood up once more and spoke to the Assembly State Senate which resulted into a unanimous vote making the law effective July 1, 2013. I am now a fully licensed Cottage kitchen; the FIRST in the city of North Las Vegas, NV. I am not a walk-in bakery or treat shop, but a Private Cake and Sugar Artist for hire.
Signature style: “I myself am the strange and unusual.” Lydia, Beetlejuice. I prefer the eclectic side of cake artistry, far-fetched, anything unusual. I like pretty cakes, but I’m happiest and most creative when I am hand-painting and adding edible mediums that leave the on-looker questioning, is it cake? I love to mimic savory food into sugar mediums, food fake outs are my favorite!
Strangest request: The correct answer is all of my cake requests are strange and unique! What will really furrow my brow is froo-frooey designs with an abundance of floral and sharp corners and buttercream. Can the flowers have teeth? Or grabby stalk hands? One of my fave wedding cakes I created had a claw tearing through the bride’s side of fresh orchids! It was amazing!
Favorite flavors and colors: I care not for overly sweet combinations, but when there are scraps of my WOOHOO Macchiato with Crumble Junk afoot I am not sharing, I will pile it into a cereal bowl and keep it near me for Mitchie fuel. It’s my double fudge cake recipe and espresso infused buttercream, salted caramel sauce, and a cookie crunch (which is eggless). Whenever I visit other cakeries, I always have to try their lemon cake, my second favorite flavor. Purple is my favorite color, but the absolute WORST to capture in photographs. I often grimace when I receive a request using purple(s). I love black with bold popping color!
Favorite cake ever: To date, cakes that children help me design are my favorites. Their minds are wide open with wonder and excitement! They’re not limited to sharp corners, height requirements, or against a Zombie wearing clown shoes while driving a putter. The best experience was working with my nephew on his eighth birthday cake. He chose the theme and helped me make it. We went to the hardware store and he found everything needed on the list, pitched in on building the structure and prepping it. Designed the “sticker” and made the teeth. He did great!
Most challenging project: Greatest challenge to myself was taking on competition television. I had only competed in smaller competitions never on such a huge platform. I contemplated the decision to apply for over a week before I sent in my bio/introduction. I was in complete disbelief when I received the initial call back. I remember saying, how do I know this isn’t a trick? Surprisingly, I had the biggest challenge putting together an audition video. I actually found it quite difficult to yap about myself without sounding formal. And then the welcoming news I was cast came through, this would be the biggest cake I’ve ever created. Working with a team I’d never met we made a plan of action. Film day had become the most challenging day of my cake artistry career. Anything and everything you could possibly imagine breaking, falling, misfiring, burning it was all happening to our team. But it wasn’t a fail. I always say you’ve already succeeded just by trying. And this is why competition television has become my greatest cake project.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? Cake Artists like myself are taking mediums into different directions. I’ve seen some awe-inspiring creations out there that evoke my emotions to make mind-bending edible art. Constantly wowed. And the consumer is taking cake art to new requests too, willing to go off the norm of expectation for a bigger wow factor.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? Definitely more non-traditional wedding cakes are on the rise. Story-telling cakes are where it’s at with cake art. The type of cake that needs no explanation, which stirs feeling and emotions. Someday “the machine” will try to muscle its way in and create 3D cakes right into your living room but I don’t think it will give the consumer the satisfaction they truly long for. I can only hope that an artist like myself continues to inspire others and be inspired to continue to create and keep human cake artistry alive and running.
True story: I attended a career day as a mentor for an elementary school. I brought one of my display cakes and little grab bags of goodies for the students. I chatted about baking and running a business and then we had a little Q & A. Young chap, age seven, raised his arm way up, and I called on him. He asked, “Miss ChefMitchie, do you ever just wanna stick your face in your cakes?” My answer: “ALLLLL the time.” Life is about having fun, making memories, and sharing laughs. Cake artistry has brought me into so many different lives and I have been incredibly lucky to earn an income from what I love doing, share my talent, and create smiles. One of my favorite quotes that has hung above every single desk I’ve sat at since 1998, was said by Phyllis Diller: “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
Cake Coquette1501 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94122
415-641-0200 • www.cakecoquette.com
Training: California Culinary Academy, San Francisco (2000-2001)
Cake philosophy: I believe each cake should be fun and beautiful, but each cake should also be accessible to anyone. This is just cake. We don’t take it too seriously. But at the same time we pay attention to every single detail. Our main goal is to make affordable, high-concept event cakes, but it all depends on the level of detail and how extravagant the client wants to get.
Inspiration: I am inspired by fine art, the subtle complexities of nature, colorful textiles and the intricate ornamental designs that are created all around the world. One day while making wedding cakes at the W Hotel in Seattle in the early 2000s, I realized that I could actually use my love of art as inspiration to design cakes. It was then that I knew I’d found the perfect career!
How long have you been in business? Cake Coquette has been in business for over eight years in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. I am a San Francisco native and I have been decorating cakes professionally for more than 15 years.
Signature style: My decorating style can be described as “intricate hand-piped detailing.” Specifically, I am inspired by the filigrees and details found in Italian and French ornamental designs.
Strangest request: People ask for really strange things that are inside jokes between friends. Once we made a cake with a figurine of a unicorn “My little Pony” being ridden by a sloth who’s slaying a Gummy Bear. It was strange, but the client loved it. There have been giant wedding cakes that are taller than six feet when on the stand and table. Faberge Egg cakes, silk pillow cakes, Eiffel Tower cakes and dozens of wine bottle cakes. I’ve done cakes of bare boobs, cakes that are rainbow-colored on the inside, and made-to-scale architectural cake models of homes and famous buildings. I’ve done a logo cake for GZA of Wu-Tang Clan, a life-size “Pick of Destiny” cake for Jack Black, cakes that look like Air Jordan shoes and cakes that look like Ferraris. You name it; we’ve more than likely made it out of cake.
Favorite flavors and colors: I always gravitate to chocolate (“devil’s food”) cake with mocha flavored fillings. My favorite colors are fuchsia and gold, not necessarily together.
Favorite cake ever: I love how this Marie Antoinette-inspired wedding cake from 2015 turned out (see below). There were so many artists and paintings and themes used for inspiration, and they all came together really nicely for a tall, six-tiered design. I love working with a flowing motif that covers multiple levels. It is satisfying to accomplish so much detail on one cake.
The back of the cake was a framed abstract painting that was totally different from the front. All of this was painted by hand on fondant.
Most challenging project: Cakes of animals are always challenging for me. If they are moving that is even more intricate. I built a 3-D sculpture cake of a horse jumping over a fence that was quite involved, complete with hidden metal armature and support system mounted on a sturdy wood base.
Biggest disaster: I don’t have any disasters to report since I started my business but when I used to live and make cakes in Los Angeles, I was driving an enormous, tiered cake that just fell over. Literally, it folded in half on my way to the venue. Hearing that thud in the hills of Bel-Air was the worst sound ever.
Greatest triumph: Any cake that is over six tiers and serves over 300 people always seems like a triumph to me. It is not often that clients want an enormous tiered cake presentation that actually serves all their guests. Sometimes a display cake will have “faux” layers that are decorated. So when we have a huge, heavy, stacked cake to present, it is always an achievement when it is all delivered, assembled and displayed.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? When I first started making cakes it was shortly after the “cake reality shows” started coming out and gained popularity. Thanks to excellent media exposure from shows like Cake Boss, Ace of Cakes and TV Food Network’s Cake Challenge (which I have appeared on several times) there is no shortage of clients who want custom cakes in every theme imaginable. This is great for cake companies like mine, because once-extravagant custom cake orders have now become more accessible to a wider demographic of customers.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? The level of cake artistry that I see out there is incredible! There are so many new decorating methods and fresh ideas to draw inspiration from these days. The cake possibilities are endless. If anything, I could see more custom cake companies opening in the future, all trying to tap into this growing market.
True story: I love to watch Saturday Night Live. One sketch in particular is Tracy Morgan as Brian Fellow, an animal lover who interviews animal specialists. The guests bring animals on his talk show. After meeting an animal he always gets offended and yells something like, “That parrot is looking at me weird!” So when one of my decorators is working on something like a funny robot statue for a cake, I’ll creep up on them and yell: “That robot is looking at me weird” in my best Brian Fellow voice. It keeps things light in the kitchen.
Fern Pastry Studio775 St. Johns Pl., Brooklyn, NY 11216
718-355-0411 • www.Fernpastrystudio.com • www.Jeanfougere.com
Cake philosophy: My philosophy regarding cakes is to create new ideas with my personal touch and never copy other people’s work.
What inspired you to become a cake designer? I was about five years old still living in Haiti when I saw my cousin taking a Wilton class. It was very inspiring to me.
How long have you been in business? I started my career at an early age. At around the age of 13 I was creating beautiful cakes for clients and family members. In 2010 I started Fern Pastry Studio. In the studio I offer classes and design cakes for my own clientele.
Signature style: I have a preference for illusion or abstract designs. I like creating a realistic look with a detailed design. For example, some of my projects have included replicas of a salon chair and a jewelry box. Another interesting project was an extravagant wedding cake shaped like a cone.
Strangest request: The most interesting request I’ve received was for a bachelorette party. I’ll just mention that it was adorned with body parts.
Favorite flavors and colors: I like almond and citrus flavors and my favorite colors are pastels with a vibrant touch.
Favorite cake ever: I really enjoyed making the cake featured in this article. It is a modern version of a traditional wedding cake in an abstract conical shape topped with geometrical figures.
Most challenging project: My most unique and challenging cake was the salon chair. It was particularly difficult to have the chair stand up without the back falling down and all the time maintain the look of a real chair.
Biggest disaster: I once made a wedding cake that had to travel over 200 miles. It made the trip fine, but it fell apart at the wedding. The cake was very large and the destination wasn’t prepared to handle and transport it properly.
Greatest triumph: Somewhere I saw a cake shaped like a simple jewelry box. I took this idea and expanded on it, giving it my own personal touch and added a lot of details. I was very pleased with the result.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? There are many new tools now to create an endless variety of designs. On the other hand, many cake designers these days lack basic skills, such as piping, icing flower, and working with gumpaste.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? Cake artistry will always be around and it will adapt to new technologies. For example, there are many possibilities with 3D imaging.
Work philosophy: Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Keep your work unique and different. It will stand out!
“Who Made The Cake!” Exquisite Cakes by Nadine Moon1811 S Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77019
713-528-4719 • www.WhoMadeTheCake.com
Training: BA degree from Brown University, Culinary Training at Alain & Marie LeNotre Culinary Institute
Cake philosophy: Number one, is that everything be made fresh to order. Despite the intricacy of a cake, it is up to me to design it in a way that it will still be delicious. I don’t want to sacrifice quality of the cake for the art of a cake. With that in mind, I personally meet with each client to design and sketch their cake.
Inspiration: I have always been artistic and took college level art classes since middle school. My love of baking came from my Mom. My first exposure to the possibilities of cake was through creations by Sylvia Weinstock and Colette Peters. I was amazed by what cakes could be. As a result, my artistic talent evolved into cake. Cakes were my creative outlet and the hobby that eventually took over my life.
How long have you been in business? Since Sept. 2002. I officially started “Who Made the Cake,” fulltime when I was seven months pregnant with my first child. Bad timing...great decision!
Signature style: I would have to say my signature style wedding cake is romantic elegance. Whether traditional or contemporary, designs are well balanced and cohesive with an utmost attention to the beauty of the details and our signature sugar flower accents.
Strangest request: This would have to be the groom whose inspiration was the quote, “The day I get married they’ll put the last nail in my coffin.”! It’s not for me to judge the concept, it’s up to me to make the client’s idea work and not look tacky. In this case, an old style wooden coffin with exposed nail heads and a hammer and single nail lying on top with a banner reading “The Day I Get Married...”
Favorite flavors and colors: My favorite cake would have to be alternating layers of our classic Divine White Cake and our Vanilla-Cinnamon Cake with a Hazelnut Ganache Filling and Old-Fashioned Vanilla Buttercream. Colors would have to be classic cake in white and ivory tones with metallic accents (silver, gold or rose gold) and sugar paste flowers in blush tones.
Favorite cake ever: My favorite cake was also my most challenging cake. The client asked for seven tiers of cake (her seventh wedding anniversary), a Cinderella coach (because he’s her prince), an abundance of sugar paste flowers, crosses and angel wings in the largest cake I’d ever done. My challenge was to put all these components together in a way that would be elegant, as the combination could easily go tacky. Yes it was huge, (I promised my 6’4” client he’d look small next to it) but it was the cake of their dreams. I spent hours scaling everything out on graph paper, but once I stepped back and could appreciate this finished work of art I was so proud of what my team had accomplished. This cake was challenging due to sheer size. The supports we had to build to create this towering cake was a challenge. We even had to remove a 6-foot square showroom window to load the coach into a U-Haul. The cake stood 10-feet above the table. The bride and groom had to stand on a platform next to the cake table to cut into the cake!
Biggest disaster: Biggest cake disaster would be dropping a seven-tier fondant cake. I have an amazing team and I called all my decorators back to the shop who were in route to deliveries. I called the planner and let them know we were running behind and needed to adjust our delivery window, and we redid the entire cake and still made it to the venue before the guests. To this day the clients do not know. That’s one of the benefits of working with an experienced cake shop. Even if something goes wrong, we are prepared, and you will have your cake.
Greatest triumph: For me there were two important moments in my career: First, having my first cake appear in People Magazine. After clipping pictures of Sylvia Weinstock cakes out of People after college, now I felt like I’d really made it. Second, appearing on the Food Network on “Outrageous Wedding Cakes 2”. Food Network is the ultimate acknowledgement that you are doing something right!
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? The rise in popularity of television shows that feature cake artists has publicized what can be done with cake. As a result, the consumer is more knowledgeable, which has increased the number of clients looking for more ornate and unique sculpted pieces.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? I think that the current trend of cakes as art will continue, with clients asking for more custom pieces that require skill not just as a decorator, but as an artist. Especially with the accessibility of new edible inspiration through Pinterest, clients will continue to demand highly detailed, custom works of art.
Favorite quote: “A party without cake is just a meeting.” –Julia Child
Personal philosophy: “Why do faux, when you can do real?” The beauty of our cakes is that they are edible art...you can eat them...even if they are 3-D sculpted pieces. If you do it out of foam, it’s not cake, it’s a prop! I hate the trend of making fake cakes and serving sheet cakes from the kitchen!
Triolo’s Bakery21 Kilton road, Bedford, NH 03110
603-232-3256 • www.Triolosbakery.com
Training: Mostly self taught.
Cake philosophy: I believe that cakes, no matter what the occasion, should tell a story. The cake is the centerpiece of every celebration. I encourage my clients to think outside the box. I love listening to their stories and learning what their interests are, then take that information and include it in their edible showpiece.
Inspiration: I moved to NH in my early 20’s with $500 in my pocket. I was told that cooking would remedy my homesickness. I ventured to the local book store in search of a cookbook. A colorful book lay in the middle of the aisle floor… curious, I picked it up and quickly gained interest in what I saw. The book was Colette Peters’s Wedding Cakes. I was HOOKED from that day forward!
How long have you been in business? We have been in business for a little over three years. I have been decorating cakes for almost a decade.
Signature style: My signature look varies from competition pieces to wedding cakes to sculpted cakes. I spent a lot of my time in my 20’s taking the time to master various techniques such as royal icing, painting, sculpting, fondant, modeling chocolate, gum paste flowers, figurines, realistic landscapes, paneling, and air brushing. I LOVE COLOR! My pieces are identifiable by my meticulous selection of color and realism in replicating nature and animals.
Most unique cake: This came in my first year of business…My clients opted to forego the traditional wedding cake and instead had me build a giant stump with chocolate sculpted poisonous dart frogs sitting on top. The inside of the cake was colored bright purple. Needless to say, my clients were very happy and continue to order “crazy” cakes from the bakery.
Favorite cake flavors: YIKES! I personally do not eat cake. Strange, I know. I am an ice cream banana split with everything on top kind of a guy. The most popular cake flavor at the bakery is our white almond cake filled with seedless raspberry preserves and frosted in our vanilla buttercream.
Favorite cake ever: My favorite cake to date will have to be the six-foot-tall Wounded Warriors Project cake that we donated to our wounded veterans. My philosophy in business is “always give back as often as you willingly can.” Many of the men and women in our armed forces don’t get the recognition they rightfully deserve. The cake was just a small token of our appreciation. Seeing the look on their faces when I revealed the cake was priceless. It was a humbling experience.
Most challenging project: My most challenging cake was, hands-down, “The Italy Cake.” This past October, I was selected as the United States competitor in the first ever Cake Designers World Championship. I was coached by Lisa Mansour of NY Cake. The World Championship piece took me over 400 hours to complete, and it traveled over 3,000 miles. It was a customs nightmare! The stress was almost unbearable (just in transit). We had three different airports to go through and the process of taking off and landing took many years off my life. Once we safely arrived at our hotel, the competitor from Greece informed me that the shuttle was leaving first thing in the morning (6 a.m.). We got back to the hotel at 2 a.m. I did not sleep the entire night. I stayed up working like a manic trying to get the piece finished!
Biggest cake disaster: This past October I entered a piece in the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show. My piece was based on a beaded jacket by French designer Balmain. Balmain’s 2015 spring collection was inspired by Native Americans, and my piece included a beaded tier, realistic drum tier, and various animals, the pelts of which the Indians used as clothing to keep warm in the winter. My original cake topper was a glorious American bald eagle sculpted from modeling chocolate and finished with delicate feathers made from gum paste. My plan was to carry the eagle through security and onto the plane. It didn’t go as planned! In was crushed in the process of luggage scanning. I immediately pulled out my phone and started coming up with ideas (the dreaded plan B). As soon as we landed in Oklahoma, I went to work sculpting a mother bear and baby cubs. I am proud to say that I got a finished piece on the table.
Greatest triumph: Having the honor of representing my country in the World Championship is a triumph in itself, but getting a completed piece in front of the world jury made my year! I wish to inspire cake artist of all levels and backgrounds. I want to see people push themselves to the limits while working with unfamiliar mediums. I treat every cake that goes out our door like a competition piece. No cake is better than the next. Every client is unique in their own way, and to me, seeing their smiles is triumphant enough for me.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? We are seeing a lot of sculpture (art pieces). Gone are the days of the “all white” wedding cake and here come the days of “color.”
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? I see a great deal of interest in cake art in the younger generation. New skills and techniques are being developed every day. I encourage people to BE CREATIVE! Imagination and Creativity is powerful when used. Cake shows are becoming popular the world around. We will see cake art like we’ve never seen before. More sculptures, more figurines, more modeling, and more artists pushing their limits by crossing into different mediums/techniques. It is important as an artist/business owner to be well versed in various mediums. Trends are coming and going faster than the latest iPhone. My advice is to take classes and never stop learning.
Personal quote: “Nothing is Original.”
The Frosted Affair2209 Bandywood Drive, Suite I, Nashville, TN 37215
615-856-1903 • www.thefrostedaffair.com
Cake philosophy: Cakes should taste as beautiful as they look!
Inspiration: After being downsized in the corporate healthcare world, I decided to turn my cake decorating hobby into a full time business.
How long have you been in business? I have owned my cake businesses since 2005. I have been decorating cakes for 24 years.
Signature style: I am certainly a wedding cake designer first and foremost. I absolutely love being inspired by beautiful textiles, clothing, and especially wedding gowns.
Strangest request: I have several strange requests over the years. However, I believe my oddest request was a groom’s cake to replicate an “engine block” the groom built for his profession.
Favorite flavors: My favorite cake flavors are carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, strawberry cake with cream cheese, and almond with raspberry filling, and Swiss meringue buttercream.
Favorite cake ever: I think my favorite cake was my own wedding cake that I recently designed.
Most challenging project: I believe my most challenging cake project was the replica of the cake I did for the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center commemorating Wernher von Braun’s 100th birthday. The scale of the cake was enormous and it was a logistical challenge.
Biggest disaster: We had a cake that was being delivered and for whatever reason, separated and the top two tiers rolled off and the bottom tier completely disintegrated. The delivery person did not know this had happened until she got to the venue and opened the back of the delivery van. She texted me a picture of the cake and I told her to make her way back to the bakery and I would meet her there. I sent out a “911 Cake Emergency” text to my staff to meet me at the shop. Once the cake was back, I started deconstructing what was left of it and then reconstructing it. The cake was not built the way I had trained my staff and it was a teachable moment. The good news is, we were able to recreate the cake and get it back to the venue and the bride and groom were none the wiser. I have before and after pics and video of the disaster! WHEW!
Greatest triumph: I believe my biggest cake triumph was a cake I designed for Martha Stewart Weddings. I had never worked with royal icing until they called and asked me to collaborate with them designing a cake for their 15th anniversary edition. They asked me to produce a cake that had royal icing calligraphy. Not only did I not know anything about royal icing, I did not even know what it was. I worked with it everyday for approximately seven hours a day for a month before traveling to Martha Stewart Weddings in New York to produce the cake. It was one of the greatest experiences and cake triumphs in my collection.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? Oh goodness! The cake industry has gotten so much more attention since I started decorating cakes. I believe cake artists have so many more opportunities now with online classes, YouTube, and access to hands-on classes. I believe cake tools are better than ever and the art of cake just keeps getting better and better with artist’s imagination.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? I believe the art of cake is becoming a much more respected and recognized form of artistry. I believe cake artists are doing more with sugar and sugar-based mediums than ever before. I feel the best is yet to come with what people are going to be able to accomplish in this industry.
Personal quote: Anyone in business knows how important it is to remain competitive in your industry. However, it is very easy to get so caught up in a competitive marketplace and lose focus of your goals. So, here is a quote that I live and run my business by: “Pay attention to your competition only to see what they are doing wrong, so you don’t do it, and what they are doing right, so you do it better.” If you live by this philosophy, you will always be leader in your field.
City Cakes251 West 18th Street, Lower Level, New York, NY 10011
646-688-2286 • www.citycakes.com
Training: French Culinary Institute in New York (now International Culinary Center)
Cake philosophy: My mission is to bring happiness to people. It is amazing to see the reaction of people when they receive the edible works of art that I have created for them. With them, I have been able to put a smile even on the face of a child that has a terminal disease. That for me is priceless!
Inspiration: My biggest inspiration is art! While I have never studied art (not even drawing classes), I have always been fascinated with it and all its ramifications.
How long have you been in business? While I used to bake and decorate cakes for friends and family when I was a young man, I officially started my career as a cake designer eight years ago after working for many years in the financial industry.
Signature style: I describe my style as clean and neat with amazing finishing, a unique use of textures and colors, and three dimensional pieces.
Most unique cake: So far the most incredible and unique cake I have done was a unicorn cake that I created for the MTV and Logo (Viacom) holiday party. It was six feet tall by six feet long and it served about 1,200 people. Apart from the size of the piece, we also had to coordinate the colors inside the cake as they requested the layers to be lined up like a rainbow. The plan and coordination of this huge project was so big that I needed to use some extra help.
Favorite flavors: My favorite cake flavors are chocolate cake and anything soaked with a liquor-based syrup.
Personal favorite: I will have to say that my personal favorite cake at the moment is the one I entered in OSSAS (Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show) this past October, 2015, for which I got the first prize in my category. The title of the piece was “SAVE THE REEF AND LET ME LIVE”. It was a sea turtle swimming over a gorgeous coral reef that was starting to be ruined by some bottles and trash. The idea was not just to present a beautiful piece, but also to send a message with it. Also, the piece represents me in so many ways, as it incorporates an amazing use of colors and textures, which I love.
Most challenging project: The most challenging cake so far was the unicorn, not only because of its size and the color coordination inside the cake, but because of the structure support system we had to create and, of course, the transportation of it.
Greatest triumph: My greatest cake triumph so far was winning the first place at OSSAS, which many people consider a hard cake show to win, and, recently, the second place at the Capital Confectioners That Take The Cake show in Austin, Texas.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? The cake artistry field have had changed a lot, in a good way, since I started. In this industry we are constantly looking for new techniques and methods. Designs keep getting way more complex, which sometimes takes you into other areas you never though will be possible. As a cake artist, I even have to pretend to be an architect to figure out the internal components for 3D piece.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? The field of cake artistry has grown and will keep growing, not just in terms of popularity, but also in terms of new techniques and designs. We are artists who are always looking for new inspirations and new ideas and, as artists, there will never be limits.
Personal quote: “Beauty is relative. It all depends on the eyes that see it. What is beautiful for you doesn’t means it is beautiful for me.”
Avalon Cakes School of Sugar ArtDenver, CO
Training: No formal training, learned through experience in kitchens and growing up playing with art.
Cake philosophy: Cake is one of the most the comprehensive forms of art. Every sense is engaged when experiencing cake. Make the entire experience amazing.
What inspired you to become a cake designer? My journey actually started when my mother found an after-school job for me at a small bakery – I was 15 at the time. I started out as a counter clerk girl who handed out pastries, made the coffee, etc. Eventually I worked my way up to the “turntable” and started decorating the basic cakes. I had always enjoyed art, but was never really committed to a particular medium, more a “jack of all trades” instead of a “master of one.” The turning point came when I watched my first Food Network Challenge! My mind was blown and it was clear to me at that point that this was the perfect career for me.
How long have you been in business? Avalon Cakes School of Sugar Art is still in its first year of business! However, I created customer cakes for clients for over five years prior to opening up the online school and worked in a few specialty bakeries along the way. I personally have been in the baking industry for 15 years and have been a cake artist for 10 years.
Signature style: Sculpted cakes, usually focusing on a whimsical realism (I promise that’s not an oxymoron), is my signature style. However I also really enjoy wedding cakes from time to time, playing with innovative techniques, painting, textiles and sugar flowers.
Most unique cake: My most unique cake was probably my Mother Earth Cake created for a cake collaboration “Myths and Fantasies”. The cake was a concept cake, but at the same time it incorporated so many of my favorite techniques. It was bust of a beautiful woman who represented Mother Nature, and atop her head was a headdress of sugar flowers surrounding a mini landscape including a tree and a waterfall. Her chest and shoulder were roots. It included sculpting, structure, sugar flowers, Isomalt and more. It was a very satisfying cake.
Favorite flavors: My favorite cake combination usually involves anything with passion fruit! I am such a nut for passion fruit. I was so pleased to find almost every dessert menu in France incorporated passion fruit.
Favorite cake ever: Oh that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child! My dear cake children, they’d never forgive me if I chose just one. I truly don’t know if I could choose because they are all my favorites for their own reason or experience I had with creating them. I’ll mention a few of my favorites, though. My wrinkly ole’ “cartoon gone realistic” bust, “Popeye” who was created for my cake collaboration Sugar Spooks. He was just so much fun to make! My watercolor galaxies cake that included four offset square tiers and a hand painted woman surrounded by galaxies and dripping paint. My most recent cake that was actually for an online cake contest called Threadcakes, a sculpted three-foot chihuahua in a suit with watercolor details. Mr Chiwawa is very close to my heart, took me a good two months to finally put him in the trash.
Most challenging project: I would have to say my Octochef cake. Figuring out the structure was challenging because I didn’t want to see a straight line anywhere! He turned out to be super secure, he endured a four-hour flight as a checked bag! It was the most nerve wrecking cake delivery of my life, that’s for sure.
Biggest cake disaster: I did take a round-a-bout a little too fast and a wedding cake covered in little tiny blossoms slammed into the side of the box. I was SO thankful that we had extra blossoms in the back. We always make extras of everything as a precaution and it really paid off for my over-confidence behind the wheel.
Greatest triumph: I would have to say opening up my online cake school has been my biggest cake triumph. Was it cake? No. But it is a vessel to share cake knowledge! It was a long eight month process of figuring out not only how to do everything, but building it all from scratch. I had to hone in on my inner techie and figure out a lot of foreign tools and concepts. I actually really enjoyed it, it’s almost like creating and decorating your own store front but on the World Wide Web! Including everything I really wanted for my members was so important to me, and we feel like we really got it right. It’s a place we are proud to call home.
How has the cake artistry field changed since you started? Oh it has jumped leaps and bounds! Truly it’s been amazing watching the industry grow into a fine art form all its own. Watching the industry is like watching fashion, it’s constantly evolving, recycling and re-inventing itself. I think what is even more amazing is watching how the speed of shared information has created so many new paths for innovation with cake. Artists taking current trends and techniques from all art mediums and building on them to create brand new ideas in the cake world.
Where do you see the field of cake artistry going? As cake artists, we are constantly trying to take it to “the next level”, always seeing how far we can push “the sponge”! I’ve got to say I think there is still so much more room for innovation and design. I believe it’s only going to get bigger and bigger and continue to grow as a valued niche market. The more our customers realize what is possible with cake, the more they want to push it and have it as the centerpiece of their event.