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The thing that I love the most about making cakes is that cake is just happy. You're always dealing with happy people for happy occasions. And although those occasions are important to people, as the designer you have lots of creativity and freedom to make people's day.
I think the biggest thing that I struggled with when I first started making cakes was simply confidence. There are so many different techniques and tools and different things you can do to cake. It was a matter of kind of giving up trying to emulate somebody else's style and develop my own. Once I did that, I was good.
I think from this project, one of the most fun things will be the jeweled broaches and swags and hand-painting those because it's really like bringing jewelry to life.
I get inspiration from, really, everywhere: from fashion, from jewelry, from travel. There's so much to look at out in the world. Architecture, iron work, any little element that I capture and kind of file in the back of my head as a potential cake design. So in some ways, you kind of start viewing the world through cake glasses.
Probably my best cake experience was when I was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show. That was just really magical in a lot of different ways. But it was one of those things that, due to the timeframe, you didn't have time to stress about it. It was just: go, make the best cake you've ever made in your entire life, and be in Chicago on Wednesday. And that was really all the direction that we got. I gathered up a few cake-designer friends and we did just that. It was so amazing building our cake at Harpo Studios. Then there was just a moment right before I went out on stage, where I just kind of knew that Oprah was on the other side of that wall, about to see this 11-foot creation. It was pretty amazing and definitely goes down in my best cake experiences.