Kendall Cole is passionate about cake art. And art it is. From Kathryn’s desk in the spirit of eating sweet things this Halloween season.
I have eaten a lot of cake in my day, and known a lot of artists, but when Kendall puts them together – well, eating is the last thing on my mind. Sticking the amazing creation in a glass box sealed to keep it perfect forever seems more fitting. Slicing into it almost makes me want to cringe at the very thought. People do however. I mean this IS the whole point – to have your cake and eat it too!
There are a lot of good cake decorators out there, but very few who bring it up another notch from decorating to masterful designing. When Kendall creates a cake it literally transforms from good eats to good art. I have had the privilege of tasting one of her masterpieces at a New Year’s Eve party. Not to mention viewing it in person. I dare say that although a picture is worth a thousand words, seeing cake art displayed in front of you trumps a thousand pictures.
Kendall’s 3 dimensional delicacies definitely tantalize your taste buds while wowing you visually. Add the scent of sugar and realization that you will get to eat the art, and now you are Alice at the tea party. It just doesn’t get any better than that!
Recently I asked Kendall some questions about how she evolved from nudes done in graphite to cakes, mostly dressed in fondant. I didn’t ask her how she stays so skinny with pounds of sugar, butter and chocolate replacing paint tubes, but obviously, she doesn’t lick the tools, and this is good to know!
Did you ever think, while getting your art degree from Chico State, that perhaps you’d like to design and create cake art one day?
All my life I knew I was going to be an artist. What I didn’t realize is how diverse the field of art could be. At Chico State I majored in Studio Art and I studied things like drawing, design, glass blowing, art history. I admired cakes, as any young feminine girl would, but I never considered the possibility of cake decorating as a career.
How did you get started doing this?
During college, I worked as a coffee Barista at The Upper Crust Bakery in Chico, California. I enjoyed the quick-paced bakery operation and the dynamic and friendly atmosphere, but I always envied the creative and elegant cakes emerging from the kitchen. My artistic abilities became known at work, and eventually I was promoted to cake decorator where I was taught a series of skills to beautify these delicious baked goods. The new position gently transformed from a fun outlet for creativity to an inspired career path.
Do you wish you were a pastry chef, or does that aspect of it not appeal to you at all?
A pastry chef is anyone who is skilled in the making and display of pastries, desserts, and baked goods. This job description encompasses cake decorators, as well. Although I enjoy whipping up a batch of cupcakes and preparing my all-time favorite mini cheesecakes, my specialty really revolves around adorning the finished product.
We eat with our eyes, so in my opinion, the manner in which a dessert is presented is equally as important as how delicious the product is on the inside. Culinary school can be a great stepping stone for finding work in a kitchen, but it is not the only way. I bring a fresh perspective to the kitchen, as I approach food from an artistic angle. I treat my frosting as paint or clay and my tools as a means to model an edible sculpture.
I know you’re in the process of building your own business, creating these very artistic and outstanding cakes! What do you envision for That Little Cake Shop?
That Little Cake Shop is not your average production bakery, rather a fine arts approach to edible centerpieces. My values inspire exquisitely decorated cakes, polished to perfection; the ultimate wedding cake. Although I focus mainly on special occasion cakes, I also produce individual sized items such as cupcakes, tarts, eclairs and the like.
You are focused, obviously, on this passion for creating cake art. Do you think that down the road you will want to diversify and use your artistic skills in others ways – perhaps a gallery of original paintings, or some other medium you especially love and have on the back burner for now?
With a background in drawing and painting and a love for the human figure, I will continue to create on paper. In this form of art, I am the client, and I can enjoy the open-ended results of a drawing coming to life. I still love this practice, but my imagination always seems to fall to new cake designs.
I think this is an indication that I have found my passion, and the right career for me.
What have been some of your greatest successes, to date, with cake art?
The beauty of the business is in the variation. Demand for cakes comes in all forms, keeping my weekly tasks new and exciting. Rarely have I created the same cake twice. My art background consists primarily of the human figure, therefore my favorite cakes involve the sculpting of a human body (of course, these tend to be some of the more crude cakes).
The highest acclaimed cakes are always tree-dimensional and giant. I’ve done everything from Scotty dogs to rainbow trout to military tanks. Every project possesses a new set of challenges and problem-solving. It keeps my brain working and makes the days go by quickly.
What have been some of your greatest challenges along the way to becoming the expert cake artist you are today?
I always seem to put more pressure on myself than anyone else which is why my greatest challenge of the year was designing my own wedding cake. Completely open-ended projects present the most challenge, for there are so many new ideas I would like to explore. Choosing only one becomes the hardest part.
Where would you like to be in 5 years, in terms of your career as a cake designer, businesswoman and artist?
In five years, I hope That Little Cake Shop will not just be online but have a mom-and-pop style storefront where passer-bys stop in for a cup of coffee and a lemon bar. My cakery will be known for having the most exquisitely adorned cakes in the city. My reputation will be based in impeccable designs and charming decorations.
We will keep you updated on the development of That Little Cake Shop as Kendall makes her dream business come true. I have no doubt her personal fame as that little cake artist will also grow once those sensational sweet creations of Kendall’s find their way into the community.Visit Kendall’s website.
For more of Kathryn’s interviews, you might also like:
Behavior Modeled, an interview with celebrity model and author Naima Mora.
Author JM Richardson, JM Richardson Has The Key