Sylvia Weinstock

“The Leonardo Da Vinci of Cakes”

We were in New York with the world’s greatest cake design diva – Sylvia Weinstock – acclaimed as the “Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes”. Every bride dreams of having a wedding cake created by this diva. Why? Because her cakes are true works of art: all of the flowers are made with sugar, which involves an impressive amount of skill and manual work that, in the end, confers a breathtaking uniqueness to each and every one of Sylvia Weinstock’s creations. Right after the wedding dress, the wedding cake is the most highly anticipated wedding detail, so take a peek into Sylvia’s view of the world of weddings.

How long have you been in the business? 30 years.

How did your business idea start? I liked to bake, and I liked to cook, and I baked more cakes than my girls would eat, so I started selling them and that’s how I got in to be a baker, but at the same time I was a baker if you wanted to buy a delicious cake you went to the bakery, but if you want a beautiful cake you bought one but you couldn’t eat it cause it wasn’t delicious: it was full of artificial things, it was covered in fondants so that they have a week to play with it and make it and by the time you eat it was stale and has no flavor. Wedding cakes were consider dry- they could be beautiful but they were dry. So when I became a good baker, I decided that the answer was to make something beautiful and that was also delicious at the same time.

What does a bride have to consider when choosing a wedding cake? She has to consider that nº1 that she buys it to a reputable baker, with a good track record, inspected by border heath so that everything is nice and clean, 2º of all she has to make shore she taste what she’s buying so she knows what she’s going to get and that she should discusses with the baker the design, of what she wants, and she should also be able to understand that the cake is part of the dinner so you wanted to accompanies your dishes.

How long does it take to get a wedding cake ready? Well the flowers are made in advance, generally speaking, I think we should eat a cake in a maximum of 48 hours.

What are the best ingredients to create a great wedding cake? The bets grad of butter, the best grade of chocolate, the best grade of coffee, the best grade of fresh fruits. We just only use the very best, and the best grade of vanilla: ther’s a lot of imitation of vanilla, and you can buy a imitation of vanilla, you just look at the label it says : imitation of vanilla flavor. We use Tiish vanilla beans witch cost a lot of dollars a pound, so everything is a completely different quality; and we buy 41 % cream and not 38%, we buy butter that is a high fat content - not filled with water-, because butter is sold by the pound, if you put water in it, it it’s heavier, and it also gives you a very tough dough and a tough products.

Fondant or buttercream? Buttercream only. Because I don’t think that fondant doesn’t like the refrigerator, using fresh fruit and heavy cream the cake must be refrigerated.

What’s your favorite cake filling(s)? My personal one, I like lemon and raspberry but my husband loves chocolat.

What’s the most original cake you ever created? What was the largest wedding cake you ever created? For how many people? You know, when you say original you have to realize that every cake that goes out of here is unique and each one is different so you’re asking me which is my favorite child: they all are. All that goes out of here, and they are all original in their looks, so it would be very difficult to me to tell you that I think this is more extraordinary than another. I mean: is all in the eye of the beholder. For instance we did a wedding cake that I think it’s absolutely stunning: this looks like a venetian wall , the colors are amazing , I did this wedding cake, that I feel it’s extraordinary. And I do a wedding cake for someone, and I feel it’s so extraordinary, but I don’t know if the all world sees it the same way I do. For instance this cake was made to a wedding that was held here in public library in NYC , and what we did, is that we duplicated an illuminated manuscript with the bride and groom’s initials , but is not necessarily, you know, people look at it, and don’t necessarily realize what that is, and sometimes just don’t appreciate what it is. The monogram is painted in sugar like an illuminated manuscript and her it is on the cake. It’s extraordinary in my mind.

How many people did work on this cake and for how long? We have 17 and they all working full time in design and cakes, etc, so it’s very hard to give you an exact number of how long it takes to do something like this cake. It takes dozen of hours, because it takes a lot of people making the flowers, and all flowers are made of sugar.

Did you ever turn down a wedding cake request? If so, why? I try not to, I don’t think so.

I know you didn’t have a wedding cake, but if you could have one, what and how would it be? Probably lemon and raspberry, it’s my favorite, I love lemon. But we didn’t have a wedding cake, we were 2 young students, we didn’t have any money, we didn’t have much of wedding, we just have a little ceremony. You see, I tell young brides, that the wedding cake doesn’t makes the marriage. I get many phone calls from people will I donate a cake because it’s her dream, that their dream is to have a wonderful wedding, . And my answer to that is that a dream is a wonderful thing to have if you can’t afford it you don’t have it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have a good marriage and a good life.

I also know that you don’t replicate wedding cakes, how do you keep your and your team’s creativity flowing? Probably lemon and raspberry, it’s my favorite, I love lemon. But we didn’t have a wedding cake, we were 2 young students, we didn’t have any money, we didn’t have much of wedding, we just had a little ceremony. You see, I tell young brides that the wedding cake doesn’t make the marriage. I get many phone calls from people asking if I will donate a cake because it’s the bride’s dream, that their dream is to have a wonderful wedding. And my answer to that is that a dream is a wonderful thing to have, but if you can’t afford it, you don’t have it. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have a good marriage and a good life.

What do you feel when you have the chance to watch the first slice of the wedding cake being cut? I feel very happy. The flowers are giving up to people to take home, the cake is delicious, the memory is wonderful, the photographs will be wonderful , and I think that that became part of the richness of memory The memory sometimes is even better than reality in many ways.

Which celebrities had the pleasure of having one of your fabulous wedding cakes? Anybody that wants’ to buy one. Anyone that wants’ to buy a wedding cake is welcome. We made many celebrities happy and some of them we made them happy for the moment and then 2 or 3 years latter they come back, because that moment has passed.

Since women and men prefer different kinds of flavors, can you suggest a flavor that both tend to like? Well you know, when we do a large cake, like a cake to 200 people, we suggest that you took 2 different flavor, so that you can have one that is lighter and one that is richer and denser and heavier. So sometimes the ladies would take a yellow butter cake filed with fresh strawberries and key lime or something light, and then for the men take a chocolate cake with hazelnut and mocca expresso so it’s a denser and heavier and denser. I’m not a sexiest about it, I rather say that could have a choice of lighter desert or a heavier desert.

Did you ever have a cake crisis the day before or the day of the wedding? What happened and how did everything work out? I really have . I do fly with our cakes, and we send extra cream, extra layers and extra flowers, so that we prepared a minor disaster. I didn’t have any. But I do get reports from some people : that the cake arrive perfect, but they didn’t cut it properly, they didn’t know how to serve it properly even though we did send instructions. There is a time I remember that we did a very large wedding cake, and it stand in a foyer of this very beautiful hotel , and then someone decided around 11 o’clock of night to move it the cake on the table and put on a stage. Well they did, but they forgot to lock the leg and the think tumble over. I was asleep, who knows, I deliver a cake and I got home, but there was a message on a phone machine saying that we need a cake in an hour, but of course they couldn’t get one in an hour. I think the family got a considerable amount of money back. There are instances when things happen once we are out of care, and you can control what happens.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a cake designer? I think you have to be a baker, and know most people are just thinking in terms of design , it’s like you want to do couture, and you don’t know what kind of fabric is.

Any advice to young couples that just got married? As a married person, my advice is married your best friend, my advice is to listen to each other, compromise, pick you battles, and never sleep on an argument.

If someone in Portugal or in another part of the world wants a Silvia Weinstock wedding cake, how can they get one? They can get if we can fly directely from NY area to them. Our major problem is costumes, but the client has to deal with the costumes. This past weekend we send a beautiful big wedding cake to Canada on a private plain, they took care of costumers, and that’s much easier. If you’re dealing with a hotel, they can help you get one, because most of foods comes from all over the world, and they deal with costumes. So may have an easy entre.

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