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My baker, Ron has been following crochet artist London Kaye on Instagram and reached out to her to see if she would be interested in a doing some sort of collaboration. She enthusiastically said yes. And thus their unique partnership was discussed and then executed…

A classically trained dancer who found her love of crochet at the age of 13, she figured out that she could foray her passion of yarn into art. Two years ago, she took on a 20-day challenge (that turned into 50 days) to find that something special with her crocheting. It’s called “yarn bombing”, her project started with covering a tree and then she took to the city landscape with her whimsical creations.

Her 20 (50) challenge started with covering trees in colorful yarn, it then escalated into something so much more.  (photos courtesy of London Kaye)

Her 20 (50) day challenge started with covering trees in colorful yarn, it then escalated into something so much more. (photos courtesy of London Kaye)

Checkout her Instagram for more pictures of her journey.  (photos courtesy of London Kaye)

Checkout her Instagram for more pictures of her journey. (photos courtesy of London Kaye)

This is one of my favorite installations. (photos courtesy of London Kaye)

This is one of my favorite installations. (photos courtesy of London Kaye)

I asked London what the favorite part of this project was for her, and it was the challenge of crocheting something round. To test her skills even further she actually crocheted the color portion of the cake blind folded. She loves using vibrant colors in various textures of yarn. Both artists appreciate color and texture in each of their mediums, which why this was a no-brainer for a partnership.

Ron gave London a blank display cake.  (The “cake” is round sections of Styrofoam covered in fondant that is dried.) She made all of her measurements and crocheted everything first and brought everything in sections.

Ron gave London a blank display cake. (The “cake” is round sections of Styrofoam covered in fondant that is dried.) She made all of her measurements and crocheted everything first and brought everything in sections.

She then hand applied each section with hot glue.

She then hand applied each section with hot glue.

We put London amongst the other cake artists in Ron’s studio.  It was nice to see both working in their elements.

We put London amongst the other cake artists in Ron’s studio. It was nice to see both working in their elements.

Remember, the colored sections of this cake were crocheted blindfolded!  Like Ron, not only does she use bold colors fro drama, but loves to use various kinds of yarn to add texture and interest to her installations.

Remember, the colored sections of this cake were crocheted blindfolded! Like Ron, not only does she use bold colors for drama, but loves to use various kinds of yarn to add texture and interest to her installations.

The finished cake!

The finished cake!

London is such a clever artist.  Make sure you follow her on Instagram and Facebook to see where her next installations will take place. Thank you London for taking the time to chat while you were working.

London is such a clever artist. Make sure you follow her on Instagram and Facebook to see where her next installations will take place. Thank you London for taking the time to chat while you were working.

I had the pleasure of photographing London’s last hour of the project at Ron’s studio. She happily chatted with me while finishing her masterpiece. Keep your eyes out for this one, her creations pop up in the most unexpected places in our city’s landscape and she really adds a bit of whimsy and imagination to some unexpected places in our city.

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Last September, I had the pleasure of working on a beautiful, unique wedding at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. What was so unique about this wedding? The décor…it was just the right amount of sparkle. But it’s where the sparkle came from that made it special. Our bride Elyse owns a business with her father called CJS Sales in Manhattan. They sell vintage jewelry parts and supplies, among fabulous other treasures and incorporated exquisite pieces from their own warehouse with the help of some of Elyse’s designer friends made this Art Deco wedding a visual wonder.

But first, let me introduce you to the Bride, Elyse Schimel Mues and her husband Adam… (here is a beautiful summary from the groom Adam!)

Elyse wearing a gorgeous Naeem Khan beaded cocktail dressed that looked exactly like the one on her invitation! Adam is wearing a dapper tux from TOM BARNETT Bespoke Clothing.

Elyse wearing a gorgeous Naeem Khan beaded cocktail dressed that looked exactly like the one on her invitation! Adam is wearing a dapper ensemble from TOM BARNETT Bespoke Clothing.

Elyse and Adam met through an online dating service in January of 2013. Their first date was dinner at an Italian restaurant in New York City followed by drinks and dancing at a nearby sports bar and club. Although the outline of the date was standard they both felt a strong early connection with one another. Adam began courting Elyse over the next several months with frequent dinners, movies, brunch, sporting event dates and whatever he could think of in order to spend time with her. Four months later they took a vacation to San Francisco and had many exciting adventures including the idea that they wanted to move in together when they returned to New York City. Adam quickly realized that she was a wonderful supportive person that he would be lucky to spend the rest of his life with. After about a year of living together, Adam proposed to Elyse at his childhood home in Nebraska while the two were visiting for his high school class reunion. Although Elyse had been waiting for some time for this news, the proposal was a surprise to her and she was very excited to share the news with family and to introduce herself as Adam’s fiancé.

After a whirlwind engagement and planning period of 3 months, Elyse and Adam decided to have their wedding at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. They chose the location for its classy Deco period style and elegance. Extended family and friends traveled to New York City for the event and for mini vacations. The wedding had a Deco theme highlighting Elyse’s business (and her own personal style) that included unusual jewelry and stones used in the couple’s clothing, accessories, wedding cake, and in the ceremony itself. This included rhinestone embellishments to Elyse’s dress and Adam’s cuff links, tuxedo set and cummerbund were all custom made with rhinestones and other jewels from Elyse’s company. Although everyone was trying to absorb all of the beauty, style and emotions surrounding the occasion, both Elyse and Adam admit that the event was difficult to remember in totality. The wedding day was filled with excitement and chaos, but everything went according to plan and was considered by everyone to be an enormous success.

Here is Elyse getting her makeup done by my dear friend Tara Dominguez.

Here is Elyse getting her makeup done by my dear friend Tamara Dominguez.

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Elyse’s wanted to wear Galia Lahav and was able to find her dream dress at Bridal Reflections. Additional beading and trims were selected by her friend, Ranjana Khan, jewelry designer whose pieces are frequently worn by the first lady Michelle Obama.  Adam’s dinner jacket, tux pants, shirt and bow tie were all custom made by TOM BARNETT Bespoke Clothing.

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Head designer of Miriam Haskel (1968 – 1978), Larry Vrba designed the boutonnière, studs and cuff links for Adam.

 

 

 Larry Vrba designed Elyses's head piece, top of her bridal gown and her cuff.

Larry Vrba also designed Elyses’s head piece, top of her bridal gown and her cuff.

From Elyse:

In keeping with the theme of incorporating my company’s vintage jewelry parts into my wedding, Floralia Decorators went above and beyond what any luxury flower and event decorators would be expected to do.  Getting dirty, they came to my 5,000 square foot warehouse three or four times, digging for antique treasures they could use for my wedding. Floralia picked out vintage rhinestone broaches, which were attached to ribbon and used as decorative napkin rings for the place settings and doubled as a gift for the guests to take home.  They also picked vintage rhinestone necklaces and belts that were draped on the back of guests chairs as decorations as opulent as the roaring twenties.  Next, Floralia picked out boxes of antique hand blown French crystal chandelier parts (also from CJS) to decorate the flowers and candelabras.  It was spectacular.  Additionally, Lion head cuff links designed by my father in the 1960’s under his previous company Kim Craftsmen (1950’s to 1990’s, which produced over 100 million pieces of jewelry in the garment center and has been featured in museums and jewelry books) were also incorporated into the table settings as decoration and gifts for the gentlemen guests to take home as party favors.  The table looked beautiful and guests are still talking about the precious treasures they got to take home.  A lion Judith Leiber purse frame was dug up at CJS and chosen to be the ring box.

Each of the 63 chairs were fastened on the back with vintage rhinestone necklaces and belts.

Each of the 63 chairs were fastened on the back with vintage rhinestone necklaces and belts that were all from CJS Sales.

Floralia Decorators added lush florals to the already beautiful details.

Floralia Decorators added lush florals to the already beautiful details.

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These are the cufflinks that Elyse's dad designed in the 1960's, each gentleman guest took a pair home as a favor. The ladies each had their own unique vintage broach that they were able to take home.

These are the cufflinks that Elyse’s dad designed in the 1960’s, each gentleman guest took a pair as a favor. The ladies each had their own unique vintage broach that they were able to take home.

What's a wedding without some sweet treats!  My friend Kate Sullivan of Cake Power made the adorable topper and the pastry chef of the Waldorf Astoria made the wedding cake.  Elyse's cousin, Sabrina Kuratana who owns Art Gallery Cookies, made the delicious and amazingly decorated cookies.

What’s a wedding without some sweet treats! My friend Kate Sullivan of Cake Power made the adorable topper and the pastry chef of the Waldorf Astoria made the wedding cake. Elyse’s cousin, Sabrina Kuratana who owns Art Gallery Cookies, made the delicious and amazingly decorated cookies.

Congrats Elyse and Adam!

Congrats Elyse and Adam!

 

So my favorite baker made his Broadway debut last night in New York City.

itshouldabeenyouposterThe adorable new musical It Shoulda Been You features one of Ron’s beautiful cakes in the reception scene.  There were plenty of us from the events world last night there to see his cake take the stage…

The best part of the evening was seeing the big smile on Ron’s face as well as all of our event industry friends.

 

Ron in front of the Marquee outside the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

Ron in front of the Marquee outside the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

This was the who's who of industry peeps last night.

This was the who’s who of industry peeps last night. Claudia Hanlin, Meredith Waga, Ellen Kostman, Matthew Andersen, Eyal Tessler, Annie Lee, Tracy Taylor Ward, Marc Eliot, Toby Ellen Sarna, Kristina Camia and a few other names I’m not sure of. (Sorry!)

Cake

The STAR of the show! Ron’s beautiful wedding cake!

Here is Ellen Kostman from Sidekick events KILLING it for an interview after the show.

Here is Ellen Kostman from Sidekick events KILLING it for an interview after the show.

Me and my favorite baker...congrats Ron!!!

Me and my favorite baker…congrats Ron!!!

 

 

 

 

 

We as small businesses and individuals forget our worth and the journey and hard work it takes to make our products happen.  Whether you are baking a cake, coordinating a wedding, providing flowers or other related services, you must charge for your expertise, time and finished product.

I would like to revisit a post I wrote a few years back about a colleague of mine and potential client being “forced” to go with a second rate baker because my colleague would not go below her company’s set minimum to accommodate her budget.  There are enough vendors out there at each price point doing a great job in their field’s, that everyone can find something.  Sure, we have to do some research, but it’s out there.  Please read below….

A colleague of ours posted a frustration on her Facebook page that her bride and groom were trying to talk her down in price for their wedding cake and go below the bakery’s minimum, even though the guest list is small.  They were hoping that they would be able to help out “the little guy”.

Now with our colleague, she received an email explaining that this was a small destination wedding and because she could not fit within the minimum budget of the bakery, she was now “forced” to go to a second-class bakery for her wedding cake.

How does the business owner handle these kinds of situations?  I can only tell you how we handle them here at our own bakery.  Before our clients come in, they are prescreened over the telephone/email when we are booking their appointments.  We ask all sorts of questions regarding location, party planner etc… One of the questions I always ask is, “Are you familiar with our pricing structure?” This is my opportunity to inform the perspective client about how we price our cakes.  I tell them the minimum cost, and explain to them the more you add to your cake, the more the price will increase.  At this point I have done my part in educating the client about our pricing.

So now that same client is sitting at our table and still trying to talk us down in our minimum price.  We now have to explain to them how things are made.  For a quality product you have to pay at least the minimum price the baker is offering.   The kind of work we do is not what you typically find in a grocery store bakery.  We have skilled artisans that manipulate and sculpt things made from sugar.  If you want a handbag made out of cake my head chef carves this out of cake and skillfully covers the “hand bag” in fondant.  And that’s only the first step in the decorating process.  The crew still has to make all of the details that go on the handbag: zippers, handles, logos, hardware, etc.  These details also need to be dusted with edible colors to enhance their features.  This is an overview of only some of the steps in a very complicated process.  After the explanation, we take our clients back into the production room so they can see for them selves why our product is more costly than your average grocery market cake.

As our colleague will tell you, these kinds of encounters are very frustrating, as we are constantly educating our clients and fans of our work about our pricing.  This “couture” cake industry is still relatively new and we all have to do our part to inform the general public out there that there are now two kinds of party cakes: the ones from the grocery store or the one from the “cake shop”.

car-cakes

The cake on the left is something that you can expect from a grocery store bakery. The cake on the right is something that you can expect from a customized bake shop. (This was a cake that we made for my nephew’s birthday from Ron Ben-Israel Cakes.)

 

No one ever wants to offend the other party and everyone is always looking for a good price.  We as bakers do provide a service to the wedding industry and I truly believe that there is a bakery out there for everyone at every price point.

How to store Sugar Flowers…

A question I get over and over again.  I posted this in 2012 when I worked for my dear baker Ron Ben-Israel, and it’s good to post again…

The question from my reader Tori:

How do you keep your gum paste flowers fresh? I recently was cleaning out some flowers I had made last summer and prior to throwing them away, I smelled them, and they smelled like rancid shortening. Do you go through your stock so quickly that they don’t have a chance to get like that? I had used Wilton fondant and gum paste for my flowers. Not sure if that makes a difference. Miss Tori…

Thanks Miss Tori for reading and bringing up an excellent question.  I brought this question to the staff and this is what they had to say:

“All of your sugar flowers should be dried completely before storing them away.  We have never had this kind of a problem before as we always make sure the sugar flowers/objects are dry.”

Keep in mind that we also work in a very dry environment.  If you work in a humid environment this could also have an impact on your sugar flowers.

Here are some of Ron's sugar flowers and buds in various states of drying. They must be completely dry before stored.

Here are some of Ron’s sugar flowers and buds in various states of drying. They must be completely dry before stored.

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Once the sugar flowers are completely dry, they are stored in plastic container. Ron tries to keep his kitchen and production room as cool and dry as possible.

 

I had a nice visit today with my favorite baker, Ron Ben-Israel.  He is moving up in the world! (Or at least in midtown Manhattan…) Ron invited me to come check out his new space and gave me a private tour.  It’s a beautiful new space for his bakery.  He’s not ready to show pictures yet, they are still working to finish the rest of the space.  He did assure me that once it was all “pretty”, I could come back with my camera and share with the rest of you.  But in the mean time….

Ron's new space is very large.  His metro racks are all on casters and he can move his sugar flowers into a wall!!!!

Ron’s new space is very large. His metro racks are all on casters and he can move his sugar flowers into a wall!!!!

Of course the staff was working diligently on cakes for the weekend.

Of course the staff was working diligently on cakes for the weekend.

Part of his new space includes a terrace!  Then the selfies ensued....thanks for the tour Ron!!!

Part of his new space includes a terrace! Then the selfies ensued….thanks for the tour Ron!!!

Look who I ran in to???

The lovely Lisa Mansour New York Cake Academy. It’s that time of year to start purchasing my holiday cookie needs and  I ran over to her store for a few cookie baking things.

Of course chatting all things cake, she shared with me that she took home Best in Show for her cake at the annual Societe Culinaire Philanthropique at the Javitz Center in New York City.  Believe me it was well deserved!!!!

The details were well executed and defined. I also loved the soft pinks she used for her roses. (And the tassels moved!)

The details were well executed and defined. I also loved the soft pinks she used for her roses. She’s also a master at gathered pleats.  (And the tassels moved!)

The cake was about as tall as me...

The cake was about as tall as me…

Always fun to see my cake friends.  If your in New York City, Stop by Lisa's store on 22nd & 6th Ave. http://www.nycake.com

Always fun to see my cake friends. If your in New York City, Stop by Lisa’s store on 22nd & 6th Ave. http://www.nycake.com

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