Category Archives: Press

Just a typical week in January …

newday

Words to remember …

This time of year is always a little bit challenging for me, as it’s a notoriously quiet season for cakes. As a business owner, I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I was throughly enjoying the break from the studio, because even though there’s little coming in – there are still bills to pay! Fortunately, very similarly to many of my friends who are teachers and have to budget for summers without paychecks, I’ve learned how to budget for a few quiet winter months before things start picking up in the spring. And since time is incredibly valuable, now is the perfect time to 1) finally catch up on all the non-kitchen tasks that involve a lot of paperwork and computer time, 2) make a few coffee dates to catch up with other cake making friends & wedding professionals, 3) work on a few designs from my own idea sketchbook, and 4) fill the “inspiration-well” by taking in many other forms of art. And so, that’s exactly what I found myself doing for the first full week of January.

Here’s a few of the highlights from the week of January 6th:

chai_TeaI had a number of coffee dates this week with fellow entrepreneurs in the wedding industry – including a very long coffee date with two other fabulous NJ cake designers. It’s always interesting to chat with people in the industry, as each of us comes to our craft from different backgrounds. During our conversation, I realized that my strength as a cake designer comes from art & design first. Creating unique and modern designs, as well as realistic 3D cakes is definitely my passion. It’s a tricky balance between keeping one’s artistic integrity and making the all-mighty $. Even though a lot of people would consider it “easy money” to replicate designs, I never like replicating other designers’ or even my own work! It seems like the ever-present challenge for me over the past few years has been figuring out ways to translate über-expensive designs into more budget-friendly designs without losing the overall aesthetic.

Adding emphasis to how important the design process is in my cake creation, I was totally surprised to discover during our cake chat that it’s not a mandatory step for my fellow cake designers to create cake sketches. Almost every cake I create (with the exception of 3D cake replicas of objects), is sketched first – and in many cases – revised a few times too! I think a future post on my design process is definitely in store for this year …

theknotbook_sweetelementcakeOne *big* highlight to my week was finding one of my wedding cakes in the 2012 edition of The Knot’s Complete Guide to Weddings book!

sneak_peekOf course, I couldn’t stay completely away from the studio! I started out 2013 with a cake design for the upcoming spring/summer issue of NY Weddings. The photo above shows an in-process photo of a zillion little hand-cut gum paste pieces and a sneak-peek of the finished cake in the bottom right hand corner.

moma_jan2013Mr. Sweet Element & I also had a chance to enjoy our favorite city after the cake delivery to NY Weddings last Wednesday, which meant a long overdue trip to MoMA and a fabulous re-do birthday dinner for Mr. Sweet Element at Empellon. If you’re ever looking for insanely good Mexican – look no further than this gem in the West Village.

2013_01_11_nycwalkAlso in the “filling of my inspiration-well” – I finally got to watch The Black Swan (loved), almost finished Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” (highly recommended), and got to snap some photographs in NYC on Friday before I met up with a few friends. While I live in the land of instagram & cell-phone photos 90% of the time, I am on a mission this year to improve my photography skills with my “real” camera. I think it’s sad that so many people have DSLR cameras and only shoot in the automatic setting! The pics in the collage above will give you a glimpse into what caught my eye during a 3 mile morning walk from midtown to the west village.

Rami Kashou Bridal Line Launch at bebe

I was thrilled when Sweet Element was offered the opportunity to participate in the Vow to Wow launch party for Rami Kashou‘s new bridal line for bebe last month at bebe’s SoHo location in NYC,  as I have been a fan of Rami’s work ever since his first stint on Project Runway.

The cake above was inspired by this layered silk tafetta wedding gown.

So why the delay in posting you may be asking?  Well … it’s taken me a little while to get over the unexpected drama that completely threw me for a loop! (There’s a hint in bottom of the photo above of me & Rami.)

Everything started out well, and I set up my table above with chocolates, a few display cakes inspired by Rami’s new gowns, my portfolio and some business cards.  Initially I thought that this would be an invitation only event, but I was surprised to see that bebe kept it’s doors open to all shoppers.  As you might imagine, when you’re giving out free chocolate – it goes quickly!  Within twenty minutes, all 100 pieces of chocolate were gone and I had one of the corporate marketing folks from bebe come over and ask if I had any more chocolate or any other food, as I couldn’t have an empty table.  I explained that her staff had specifically ordered just 100 bon bons, but I did bring two sheet cakes that were supposed to be cut and served by their catering staff.  After grumbling that she was going to have words with her staff, she then disappeared to find the sheet cakes that I had left in the kitchen for the catering staff.

Half an hour later, the corporate marketing person was still missing, and I was left wondering what was happening with these two sheet cakes, as I didn’t see any catering staff.  At that point, one of the security people from bebe came over, and seeing my quizzical expression, explained that there were no plates or utensils for the sheet cakes, and they were sending someone to Duane Reade (a local pharmacy) to get something to serve the cake with.  With the event nearly half over, as it was only two hours in duration, I was seriously wondering if these cakes would even get served.

Oh, but then *I* got served.  I was mortified when the staff brought up both sheet cakes, which were supposed to be cut and plated in a back kitchen and NEVER meant to be placed on my white linen table!  If that wasn’t bad enough, the staff thought it was helpful to precut the cakes in a very odd fashion, and not supply me with anything to serve it with … so I ended up using two forks (or spoons!) to serve up the odd shaped pieces of cake, while suppressing tears.  Where was the catering staff I was promised?!  If I had known there was no catering staff I never would have made sheet cakes (which by the way, the corporate staff specifically asked for), and would definitely have opted for mini cupcakes as I usually do for these types of events.

Here’s a photo of the cake horror that I took with my cell phone.  That’s devil’s food cake with nutella buttercream on the left and red velvet with cream cheese frosting on the right.  And yes, those are paper BOWLS that the staff ran out to get.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough … the staff only ran to get 30 or so bowls and 48 forks, so within ten minutes, I was offering people cake on napkins sans utensils as that’s all I had.

I honestly think I might have just packed up if Mr. Sweet Element hadn’t shown up as moral support during this disaster.  It was a small consolation to see the corporate marketing person felt terrible and came over to apologize for the mix up, as she saw how mortified I looked when they dropped those two very NOT for presentation cakes on my table for me to serve.

So … lesson learned … I will now ALWAYS quadruple check with any event planners to ensure that everything promised – like a catering staff with PLATES & FORKS will actually be there!

Here’s a shot of Rami with the bebe staff.  And yes, that’s me at my table in the back right corner, posting the cake horror on twitter.

In Bliss Launch Party at Montclair Art Museum!

Sweet Element was thrilled to be able to be a part of the In Bliss launch party this week at the Montclair Art Museum.  Despite the gloomy weather and rain, we had a great turnout and met many new friends, neighbors and cake fans. 😀

Given his new job’s insane schedule, I was *super* excited to have Mr. Sweet Element as my assistant for the show.

This Lichtenstein inspired cake felt right at home in the museum!  One of my favorite moments of the evening came when I got a sweet compliment on this cake from an art teacher who stopped by our table.

This white on white wedding dress inspired wedding cake contrasted beautifully with the piece of art behind our table.

Mini cupcake samples … (from left to right) chocolate almond, pistachio, chocolate lover, strawberry almond, and peanut butter chocolate.  Crowd favorites were definitely the strawberry almond and peanut butter chocolate! 😀

For the kid in everyone, I always like to have a little confetti cake on hand. Somehow sprinkles just make everything more fun!

Oh, hello there blogosphere!

Before the entire month of April goes by … I wanted to sneak in at least one post!  Like many months as a solopreneur, the month of April was one of ups and downs, unexpected opportunities, and a lot of lessons learned.

I’ll be posting in more detail about all of the below soon … but here’s a quick recap of all the goings on at Sweet Element this past month!

To start things off, here are a few of this month’s cakes!

This first cake was a vanilla cake, filled with dark chocolate ganache, and frosted in vanilla buttercream for a shabby chic birthday party for a very sweet one year old in Edgewater, NJ.

This sweet little red velvet birthday cake, filled with cream cheese frosting, and iced in vanilla buttercream was ordered as a surprise by a very sweet son. 🙂

These three wedding cakes were designed for a super fun modern Marie Antoinette themed wedding. I’ll be posting a lot more detail on these in another post next month!

Lastly, this fashion forward wedding cake was one of the two wedding cakes that were specially designed for the launch of Rami Kashou’s bridal line at Bebe.  I’ll be posting more on this event soon too!

There were a few more really fun cakes that I had the opportunity to make and would love to share, but I’m awaiting publication … so, as soon as I find out more, I’ll be updating everyone here too!

I was also extremely fortunate to get to know a number of fabulous folks in the wedding & event industry this month, including fellow cake designers, photographers, event planners, florists and make up artists.  I even got to make wedding cakes (yes, you read that right – cakeS!) for a super sweet make up artist ~ who had an awesome wedding at the Loew’s theater in Jersey City, NJ!

I was so excited to finally have a few professional headshots taken by the lovely Mikkel Paige in SoHo, which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC.  The most amazing thing to me about these shots was that they were taken after I had only gotten four hours of sleep, having stayed up to the wee hours to finish cakes for a last minute shoot (more on that shoot coming soon too!).

And last but not least, here’s a glimpse of some of the much needed *fun* that Mr. Sweet Element & I got to enjoy this month!

Clockwise from top left: Mr. Sweet Element & I on the beach in Asbury Park – my first time there!; Traditional ice cream cake from Parm in SoHo, NYC – worth every calorie!  The sandwiches were so good (& I was so hungry), that I never got a photo.; My first Yankees game of the season in the Bronx.; Nagle’s ice cream parlor in Ocean Grove, NJ … can you see a theme here? 😉

Spring 2012 Press!

I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the latest Sweet Element cakes that have found their way onto the pages of a variety of spring bridal magazines!

Here’s our pleated cake (on the right) in a Designer Desserts feature in the Spring 2012 issue of The Knot.  All cakes in the feature pulled details from fashion to adorn cakes – one of my favorite things to do!


Sweet Element definitely made a splash in our first appearances in both Contemporary Bride New Jersey & Contemporary Bride New York with a total of 9 cakes featured in their Spring 2012 issues!

In the inspire me: Jet Setters spread, our Par Avion Wedding cake was featured.


Here’s a close up shot of the Par Avion Wedding Cake.

In the inspire me: Groom’s Cakes spread, we had our Miller Lite Beer Bucket and our Lego Star Wars & Guinness groom’s cakes featured.


Close up of the Miller Lite Beer Bucket Groom’s Cake.

Close up of the Lego Star Wars & Guinness Cake.

I was thrilled to see our set of five Monique Lhuiller Inspired Wedding Cakes opened up the Cakes to Feast Your Eyes On feature!

Last but not least, we had one of our fresh flower wedding cakes, a square fondant wedding cake decorated in orchids in the subsequent pages of the Cakes to Feast Your Eyes On feature.


Close up shot of the Cascading Orchid Wedding Cake.

Brides White Hot Style Shop!

I usually wait on blogging about cakes created for publication, and as this lavender sequined wedding cake was created for the January 2012 issue of Brides magazine, I decided to wait until the issue hit newsstands to share this post!

Sweet Element was fortunate enough to be included in last year’s Brides White Hot Style Shop in NYC.  I was super excited to see my lavender sequined cake with purple fantasy flower was showcased on the cake table right at the front of the shop!


Here’s a photo of me with my cake taken by a fellow female entrepreneur & friend, Susan Ng (go check out her beauty products @ Naturally Susan’s) that came to visit during the Sweet Element cupcake tasting (both pistachio and red velvet went over extremely well)!


A few beautiful orchids from the florist …

And lastly … a lovely portrait of Jay & I being silly at the wrap party from The Booth!

Happy New Year!

The first of anything is always a little daunting, don’t you think?  It’s taken me a few days to figure out how I wanted to start off this year on the blog, and I finally thought that I couldn’t think of a more fitting first post for 2012 than a little look back through our favorite 2011 moments in cake!

On the media side, last year started out with a bang as I discovered that Sweet Element had been chosen as a 2011 Pick for The Knot’s Best of Weddings!  I was also thrilled to have two cakes featured in Brides Magazine in 2011 and participate in two Brides events as well: one with Lord & Taylor and the Brides White Hot Style Shop! (belated post to come very soon on the Brides White Hot Style Shop!)  Sweet Element was also fortunate enough to be featured in Get Married Magazine, The Knot, and New York Weddings as well as a number of blogs.

The most popular blog post *by far* last year was an educational post that I wrote about why sculpted cakes are so expensive. My initial thought process behind the post was to educate clients on what goes into making 3D cakes, but I think I struck a chord with many other cake designers who feel the same frustration every time a client asks for a sculpted cake at a ridiculously low price. While I’m not big into how-to tutorials, I definitely think that there is a need for more posts “behind the scenes” in the world of real cake (and not overly dramatized for TV cake) – so I’ll be working on some more for 2012!

While we scaled back on the number of events we participated in overall, we went BIG with Sweet Element’s participation in the GLBT Expo at the Javitz Center in NYC, which was our first experience with a huge show and was definitely a highlight of the year for us.  Not only did we get to hand out over 6,000 samples in two days and meet a slew of great people, we also met some totally awesome guys, who I’m happy to say have turned into very dear friends, Shawn & Doug.  A few months later, when NYC legalized same-sex marriage, they asked me to make their wedding cake!


And since it seems like everyone is always curious to know what my personal favorite cakes are …. here are my picks for 2011!

Favorite 2011 Wedding Cake for the Media


Favorite 2011 Groom’s Cake

Favorite 2011 Special Occasion/Birthday Cake

Favorite 2011 Real Wedding Cake (Traditional)

Favorite 2011 Wedding Cake (Non-Traditional)

This last cake has extra special meaning for me, as the clients who I made it for loved it so much that they made their topper into their first holiday card! I was beyond touched when I received the card below last month.  Believe it or not, it’s the smallest little things like this that make all the late nights, cake conundrums, and all the incredibly difficult work worth every minute.


I look forward to another year of fun, fabulous and festive cakes in 2012!

Back from Blog Hiatus!

Hi everyone! I can’t believe it’s been over TWO months since I’ve posted an update here. So are you wondering what has been going on in the land of Sweet Element(s) in the past two months?

Well, let’s see … I had a bunch of last minute wedding cake orders, made a few fun birthday cakes and one very unique groom’s cake, had a cake featured in the Brides White Hot Style Shop in NYC, worked on a few upcoming press projects, had my Modern Love Wedding cake featured in New York Weddings, had *two* peony cakes featured in The Knot’s national winter 2011 issue, interviewed intern candidates, networked with some other fabulous wedding professionals, designed the Sweet Element holiday cards … oh yea … and Mr. Sweet Element & I went on a 2 week ROAD TRIP for our 10th anniversary!

So, as you can see … even though I haven’t posted … it’s not because I haven’t been BUSY!

Here’s a photo montage of many of the cake projects that I’ve worked on over the past few months.  I will definitely be posting additional details on all the projects below and new updates soon!

And here’s a montage of some of my favorite photos from our 10th anniversary road trip!  We drove through NJ, PA, WV, KY, TN, MI, AK, LA, AL, GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, and DE ~ so as you might imagine we spent A LOT of time on the road!  Of course, even while on vacation I still had cake on my mind (and pie apparently, as you can see by the photos below :D). I was lucky enough to get to meet with Minette Rushing & her staff at Custom Cakes in Savannah, GA (and am just realizing I took *no* pictures there – drat!).  I hope that I can build just as awesome a team as hers soon!

Fall 2011 Press!

Whew … where did the summer go?!  I can’t believe fall is right around the corner, but I will definitely be welcoming it with open arms.  Between the heat waves, power outages and ridiculous humidity, I can’t say that summer is my  season of choice.  Fall is definitely my favorite season of the year though: crisp autumn days, chilly nights, the brilliant colors of fall foliage, warm apple cider and Halloween!

And what better way to start off the fall than with showing off some of the latest Sweet Element press! 😀

It’s always nice when your first cake in a publication is one of the biggest 😀 Here’s Sweet Element’s debut in Brides New Jersey.

Close up of the lavender and blue lace and blossom wedding cake.


Also featured in Brides New Jersey (as well as Brides New York & Brides Pennsylvania), was one of my favorite styles of wedding cakes, The Sequin Cake, that seems to be becoming a Sweet Element signature.  These cakes are extremely time consuming & definitely labors of love, but the end result is always stunning (even more so in person than in print!).
Close up of the metallic sequin wedding cake.

As all my friends know, I *love* shiny things … so I was super excited when the editors at The Knot asked if I would make a silver cake for one of their color report pieces.  I couldn’t have asked for a better shot of the cake … and I totally LOVE the shoe on the bottom of the page as well!

Here’s a close up of the silver cherry blossom wedding cake.


And last but not least, my first published groom’s cake!  I don’t know why they didn’t choose the front shot of the AT-AT cake, but I’m still psyched that one of my sculpted cakes has finally garnered some attention from the press.  The other nice thing about this cake, is that since it was a real cake created for a client a few years back, I was able to reach out to my client and let her know that her groom’s cake was in the press!

Close up view of the AT-AT cake from the rear.

Summer 2011 Press!

Apparently this is the summer of sequins!  Check out two Sweet Element sequin wedding cakes that were recently featured in Get Married & The Knot (national edition)!