Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Stroll Down Memory Lane - 2010. Part 1

2010 marked our 5th year in business, and was a turning point for cakelava. We began having a larger presence in the media, and Rick received his first invitation to teach classes in the early part of 2010. He was shocked and honored when he was asked to teach in Canada the following year and excited to to share his craft. He always wanted be able to give back to other decorators, as his mentors had done for him and this was a perfect opportunity to do it.

Rick and his assistant Annie's "Spongebob Birthday Cakes" Challenge on Food Network aired in April 2010, on Easter Sunday. It was an Easter Sunday we will never forget! Despite it being a family holiday which prevented people from attending our viewing party, we still had more than 100 guests in attendance who were there to support us and cheer Rick on! Around the time the episode aired, the media was often at our shop, filming Rick as he was making cakes and doing interviews.

It was a very interesting year for us. Hawaii started feeling the effects of the recession around this time, and there were less "destination" weddings - non-residents coming to Hawaii - and those that did often had smaller guest counts because some of their guests had lost their jobs or they couldn't afford to take such an expensive trip. In general, I think it was difficult time for many people in the cake industry, and we knew many people who shuttered their doors, which is always heartbreaking. We had counted our blessings we had a solid reputation by that time and was still getting regular business. Maybe as not as much as before, but considering the time, we were extremely fortunate.

As I reflect on 2010, I think of that year as the "end of the innocence" - not that life was so easy in the previous years, owning a business never is, but it was the last year we would focus solely on making cakes for clients. Early in 2011, Rick started teaching and began receiving more offers for other locations. Our traveling started and would become a big part of our lives in the coming years. We also got an amazing book deal for "Extreme Cakeovers" with Clarkson Potter in 2011, and would then balance the writing of the book with cake orders and teaching gigs. I remember at particularly hectic times of our lives in the last couple of years that we would reminisce about the days when we would "just make cake." Now, we wouldn't trade the opportunities we've had for anything in the world, but it demanded a level of commitment to our business that we never imagined!

I have chosen the cakes below as a sampling of some of our favorite designs that year. There were so many more I would have liked to include but couldn't for lack of time. We hope you have been enjoying the retrospective!

Rick was excited to try out these shapes for Laura and Oliver's wedding cake. The couple was married at Lanikuhonua, a gorgeous outdoor location on Oahu. Rick handpainted their cake to resemble the beautiful graphic motif from their wedding invitation. I was really smitten by this cake and loved how stylish and unique it looked. Luckily, so did Laura and Oliver!

It was the second cake we made for a client and when we found out she was having an Alice in Wonderland theme, we were totally excited to make the cake! I'm a big fan of Alice in Wonderland
and it is always a fun theme for Rick to translate in cake, so I knew he would do our client proud! Since she had let Rick dream up the design, she didn't know what to expect and was thrilled when she saw it!

The dog cakes are always fun and we have 3 from that year to share with you. The sculpted Jack Russell 50th birthday cake included a Vegas theme and was worked on during a time when we had a television camera filming Rick in our shop. The news team also showed up at our client's party and featured them on the evening news. Between the special cake and the television cameras, it made for a memorable 50th!

This doghouse cake with Shih Tzu in it was made for a client who has ordered many cakes from us over the years. She threw a "Doggie Rescue Party" and had guests donate to the Animale CARE Foundation in lieu of traditional gifts. There is a wonderful story that accompanies this cake, which you can read about here.

Like the doghouse cake, this sculpted dog and sneaker composition (all cake!) has a story behind it and you can read about it here. We love couples who think outside the box and the bride who ordered the cake certainly did that because this was their wedding cake!

I absolutely adore this cake! Beautiful things do come in smaller packages. This cake was one of my favorites of the year and has special meaning because Rick made it for my 38th birthday. We  celebrated with an intimate dinner with a couple close friends. It was funny because when you walk into a restaurant with a cake with a big "38" on it, there is no hiding behind your age. People often assume that as the wife of a cake designer, I get an extravagant, over-the-top birthday cake every year. Rick is often busy making cakes for clients around my birthdate so I often ask for something small, and we don't see the point in wasting. You can make a big impact with a small cake that looks lovely and tastes delicious!

It was the clownfish cake that launched what felt like, 1000 classes! This now-famous clownfish cake has been made by dozens of students, circulated the internet and is a design that has traveled internationally. The clownfish was made in March 2010 for our client Masaki and ordered by his wife as a surprise birthday cake. Shortly after this cake was made, Rick decided to teach it for his first "Discover Your Inner Artist" class. We, and the many students who have taken the class have this wonderful family to thank for requesting the cake!

You may recognize the hibiscus and crawling vine from other cakes Rick designed, but he customized the design to include concave shapes and made this one brightly colored, and the result was fantastic! The wedding cake was made for Shannon and Liam, who travelled from the UK for their wedding.
Since the couple was so far away, the family was heavily involved and sent us the nicest "Thank You" letter after the wedding:

Dear Rick & Sasha,
THE WOW FACTOR has never been this good!!
You captured it all!  The spirit, the fun, the folly but with sophistication and a bit of formality!
The colors!  The glisten & shimmer of the specialty fabrics!!!  EXACTLY right & perfectly matching the invitations, table toppers & chair ties. 
Honestly,  people are still RAVING about your cake.
You've set the new standard for destination weddings!
Can't wait to see you on Food Network--remember to let us know.
Thank you!
Nicki N

You know those cakes that make you shudder because they are so difficult? You think "why did I agree to this?" and stress over how you are going to make it happen. This sculpted upright UNC mascot of Ramses was that cake for Rick. This groom's cake caused us stress before, during and up until it was safely delivered to the hotel. Not only did it have an enormous, protruding head, but it's weight had to be evenly distributed in its much smaller legs. Read the full story here.

Just a few weeks after the UNC groom's cake, Rick made another upright cake,  Dora the Explorer. Having made the standing Ramses, creating the structure for this cake was a little easier, but this was a very recognizable character which put the pressure right back on! The timing of the Dora the Explorer cake was bizarre because around that time Rick was in discussions for more Food Network Challenges, specifically character cakes, and Dora the Explorer was one he was considering! It was a tempting offer but we were bogged down with cakes and a viewing party for his Spongebob Challenge that weekend . It wasn't meant to be but this Dora cake was!

About a week after the standing Dora cake, Rick made his first of TWO upright Incredible Hulk groom's cakes in 2010. The cake above was made in August and the first one was in April. It was Rick's fourth sculpted upright cake that year! He was making regular trips to the Hardware store for his standing cakes, and there was always a fair amount of stress when he was working on them. Our August bride, saw the Incredible Hulk cake on our website and ordered one for her fiance too. We thought it was such a strange coincidence that we would have two orders in one year for something so unusual!

On Easter Sunday, April 4th, 2010, Food Network premiered "Challenge: Spongebob Birthday Cakes". Rick and 3 other cake artists had filmed the competition in December 2009, and the Big Day was finally here! Rick and I were joined by more than 100 of our friends and family and celebrated with a viewing party at Tiki's Grill in Waikiki. It was an amazing day we will never forget! Rick made Patrick Star, one of the characters in "Spongebob Squarepants". He decided to make Patrick since people would see him sculpt Spongebob, and made 2 giant sheetcakes with Spongebob's face to serve to the guests - on Spongebob plates of course! One of the flavors was the same guava cake we brought to Challenge. All but the first photo above were taken by the wonderful Dave Miyamoto & Company, who captured our very special day!

Two months after "Challenge" aired, Rick made another Spongebob cake. One of our wedding couples ordered this cute Spongebob cake for a family member whose birthday occurred while they were in Hawaii for the wedding. Rick now knew every inch of Spongebob and had a blast making him again!

I'll end the first part of the 2010 retrospective with Lexy's tattoo cake. Rick was thrilled when our bride Lexy asked for a Japanese tattoo inspired cake with koi fish and waves. Rick painted the cake in black, white and gray, and it looked incredible in person! The photo doesn't do it justice! Lexy's tattoo cake would provide inspiration to Rick later when he was designing one of his "Discover Your Inner Artist" class projects.

More to come ...

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