Thursday, November 6, 2008

cakelava Interviews: Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes, Pt. 2

A Sock Monkey's revenge, two cookbooks, and her "favorites" list. Part 2 of our interview. To read part 1, of the Confetti Cakes interview click here.

Sasha Reichart: Confetti Cakes has no shortage of press and appearances. What has been your favorite most recent appearance or press you have received?

Elisa Strauss: Wow, they are all great. I love getting out and talking about anyone who will listen and the shows are really gracious to have me on. I would be remiss not to mention my appearance with Paula Dean. She is such a hoot and so much fun to be with. It is nice getting out of the bakery and meeting new people so I love it all. Now with the new book I will go and do book signings, radio shows, demonstrations at local culinary schools. I’ll be on (or will have been on….) the Today Show Oct. 30th for Halloween cookies and I’m going to teach a class in Savannah at Minette Rushing Custom Cakes.

Sasha Reichart: Like a number of other cake designers I’ve interviewed, you have also competed on the Food Network Challenge. We saw you compete in the “Birthday Cake Competition” where you made the completely adorable sculpted retro sock monkey. Then you came back for the “Extreme Cake Challenge”, which Rick was invited to compete in but couldn't do it. You made another sock monkey, though this one looked like he wasn’t very happy, and you called it“Revenge of the Sock Monkey.” Tell us the story behind your 6’ tall money with a vengeance.

Elisa Strauss: Well the first FN challenge I really didn’t know what I was doing….in terms of being on TV. I just went and did what I do….made a sculpted cake with a cake that I thought best fit the theme. What I didn’t realize was that it needed to be about ten times bigger for TV….each time you do something you get better….so the “revenge” monkey was the bigger, stronger incarnation of the first challenge…..

SR: How many Food Network Challenges have you competed in and how did you fare?

ES: Three. First one I lost L
Second was “Holiday Cake challenge” and I came in third
Third, extreme cakes and I won!!! Finally!!!

SR: In addition to making awesome cakes, you are also a published author of your own cookbook. What inspired you to write a cookbook, and how did you go about securing a publisher?

ES: Two books! Well it was actually one cookbook literary deal that required me to publish two books. I loved the idea of doing a book form a business perspective it is another press vehicle. But from a more personal side, since we make such elaborate cakes and are in NYC…we can’t ship our cakes, we can’t make more then a few a week so we are limited in the number of people that can have a Confetti Cake…so the book is one way to reach people who can’t have our cake…but they can have our recipes, design ideas, etc.

SR: I hear you have another cookbook about to be released. Has it already been released, and what is this one about?

ES: The new book is, Confetti Cakes for Kids. It follows the same design as our first book but with projects for Cookies, cupcakes, mini cakes and sculpted cakes but with all kid-themes….like a train, a monster, a backpack, etc. It also has more recipes including a gingerbread cookie, brownie and new cake and fillings too.

SR: Love the colors and that little monster is totally adorable! You also teach private classes as well as private parties. I’m sure people must be clamoring to take a class with you. Describe for us what you cover in one of your 5-hour classes?

ES: The best thing about our private classes is that it is up to the individual. I feel that the students get so much more out of this situation because they have me all to themselves. We work on their individual needs while making a spectacular cake. Most people come for two days and we make something they want to accomplish, or something out of our books. Many students are cake designers and come from all over the world. Others are people that just love to make cakes as a hobby and want to improve their basic skills.

SR: Ah, the question all the cake designers love. What are your top three favorite cakes you’ve made?

ES: Victorian House took so long!

Philly Cheesesteak…it looked so real!

I also like the disco Ball we made for Paula Deen on her show.

SR: Beautiful work! The other question I ask my interviewees, who are your top five cake designers, or people you draw inspiration from in your field.

ES: There are too many to name but if I had to:
Kate Sullivan
Peggy Porschen
Marina Sousa
Ron Ben–Israel
Clare Crespo

SR: Yes, all fantastic! Coincidentally, Marina Sousa of Just Cake is my next interviewee and I’m quite excited to chat with her. She's so talented and I’m sure she would be honored to hear how much you love her work… I love visiting New York and wish I had more time to do so. If I wanted to get NYC’s best cupcake and Confetti Cakes isn’t making them anymore, where would I go?

ES: Such a good question…I don’t know…I’m not the best cake person to ask….but I LOVE Levain Cookies!

SR: Yum! They look amazing! You have a blog, obviously. Do you read blogs and if so, which ones?

ES: Yes, I read lots of blogs, especially of my students and cake and non-cake friends.

I especially love Cakespy,

and Cake Wrecks.

SR: Those are all great blogs, and so popular! Jen from Cake Wrecks was fun to interview too! What do you like to do when you aren’t making cakes?

ES: I love spending time at home I have so little of that! Spending time with my hubby and family, seeing museums and movies!

SR: What’s next for Confetti Cakes?

ES: Who knows! We are working on a DVD now, still making the best cakes we can…but I have a few projects up my sleeve. I will let you know when its ready!

SR: Please do. We can't wait to see what you do next!

END, Pt. 2

** On Wednesday November 26th, our Interviews From Cakeland series will chat with Marina Sousa of Just Cake, based in Capitola, California. Since it's opening in 2003, Just Cake has taken the cake world by storm, designing gorgeous cakes and architectural masterpieces, appearing in numerous publications and competing regularly on the Food Network Challenge series. Join us back here right before Thanksgiving as we talk Just Cake!

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