Let Them Eat Cake: City Cakes NY

viral fashion 2011 people interview city cakes new york custom bakery design

While the commonly held belief may be that fashion and baked goods of any kind cannot co-exist there may just be proof that this isn’t as true as we’re lead to think it is. With the ever-expanding world of custom cake design continuing to grow, endocrinologist cakes – once a fairly simple, delicious, carb-filled staple of any celebration – have become just as haute as couture. No one can attest to this fact better than Benny Rivera and Marc Matthias, co-owners and operators of City Cakes NY.

 viral fashion 2011 people interview city cakes new york custom bakery design

It’s within their Chelsea headquarters that the duo concoct some of the most beautiful, visually arresting – and sometimes just damn fun – cakes around. ViralFashion.com chats with Benny and Marc to get a glimpse into what has made City Cakes NY, and their partnership, such a success.

ViralFashion: Tell us about how City Cakes NY got its start.

Marc: City Cakes came into existence in 2007 after Benny began experimenting with his self-taught cake decorating skills after years of non-practice. The creations he was coming out with were so spectacular that I worked with him to start a small custom cake business. Before we knew it, orders were flowing in and we opened up a private studio on West 18th Street working hard to develop the most incredible recipes and products. Next, word of mouth brought tv production companies to our studios and in June 2010 we opened our doors for limited retail takeout and so people could try our insane cupcakes, half-pound cookies and see our cakes being developed on a daily basis.

VF: Benny, Marc, how did the two of you first meet?

Benny: We met years ago through mutual friends and quickly realized our differing personalities actually worked to create incredible products and a business that has quite a promising future.

viral fashion 2011 people interview city cakes new york custom bakery design

VF: Describe the dynamic between you guys. How do you divide the work that goes into designing and creating your cakes?

Marc: We argue like crazy but it keeps things exciting! Truth be told, Benny is the pure talent behind City Cakes. I loves baking and the retail business but Benny is the mastermind behind our incredible cakes and the clean style of CIty Cakes edible art. We have an amazing staff of interns that helps and provides us with fresh ideas and new techniques. I hold much of the business acumen and hopefully will help take Benny and the City Cakes team to the next level.

VF: Is there any one type of cake that you both feel you cannot go wrong with, the little black dress of cakes, so to speak?

Marc: If you haven’t tried City Cakes Sinful Buttercream, you are absolutely missing out. Our soaked Lush Amaretto Cake with Original Sinful Buttercream is one of those cakes that people cannot stop talking about. We can make it for a basic birthday cake or use it in your wedding or event cake. It is absolutely to die for.

viral fashion 2011 people interview city cakes new york custom bakery design

VF: Walk us through the process of designing a custom cake, from first meeting with the client to putting the finishing touches on the final product.

Benny: The process almost always begins with an email from the customer. We ask several questions to obtain the information that will help us have a more clear idea of the type of cake they are looking for. Sometimes a consultation and tasting is set up to discuss any ideas and for the client to try some of our amazing recipes. When the final idea has been discussed a design or sketch is then created which we present to the customer together with a quote. When the customer is absolutely excited about the design, we require 50% deposit of the cost of the cake to hold the date and project, and the other 50% is due three weeks before the event.

VF: How long can it take to complete one of your designs?

Benny: It depends on the complexity of the design. A simple and basic design can be put together in just one day. However, there are other very complicated or elaborated designs that can take a week or more to put together considering all the extra or additional elements that need to be made in advance (such as sugar paste flowers, figurines or any other handmade sugar work).

VF: As we all know, so much of fashion is based around trends. Would you say that there are trends in custom designed cakes as well, and if so, what’s hot right now? Is there something that you receive a lot of requests for?

Marc: Absolutely the smooth look and texture of fondant-covered cakes is continuing to trend in the custom cake market. Lately we have been getting lots of requests for geometrically inspired cakes – with unique angles or shapes to them. We also have noticed a trend toward soft metallic and pearl tones which are possible to achieve with edible dusting and metallic painting.

viral fashion 2011 people interview city cakes new york custom bakery design

VF: Where do you find inspiration for your more fantastical and eye-catching designs?

Benny: When walking around I’m always looking at everything around me. It is funny because my immediate reaction to something interesting that I see is to capture that moment or object and form a mental cake design to see if it works. Architectural designs from buildings, graffiti, fabrics, color combinations, paintings and sculptures inspire me.

VF: When working with a client on a custom cake, do you find it easier if that person has a specific idea of what they want, or is it easier when the process is more collaborative.

Benny: Most of the time our customers come to their cake consultation with several ideas which we usually combine in order to create the cake of their dreams. However, we have had some other customers who prefer to give us complete freedom of artistic design. These are the customers I love the most because then I can truly let myself go crazy with designs.

VF: What was the most unusual or outrageous cake you’ve been asked to design?

Benny: A monstrous cake-sized replica of Times Square for a girl who was celebrating her 13th birthday. As she said to me during the consultation “I’m going to be a future Broadway star so what I want is a replica of the Coca Cola building with a huge billboard with my picture and advertising Zoey’s Show!” Well, that is exactly what we did and she absolutely loved it.

VF: You guys devote your time to making cakes that are created to please your clients. Given the chance what kind of cake would you design for yourselves?

Benny: I consider myself a very artistic person with a very elaborate vision of colors and designs so, if I was going to create a cake design for me it will probably be a non-traditional shaped cake. Probably a cake in which all tiers are going to be off center or crooked defying gravity. I’m completely sure it will be a structured cake with crazy shapes and an intense combination of colors.

VF: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

Benny: It is so rewarding to see the final piece and customers faces when they receive the cakes they dreamed of. It is amazing the comments we get after every single delivery. That is the moment when you feel you have accomplished something really big with one of the most amazing edible mediums – cake!

viral fashion 2011 people interview city cakes new york custom bakery design

VF: And finally, what does the future hold for City Cakes NY? Are there any exciting plans in store?

Marc: We have plans to move City Cakes to a larger, street-level retail space which will make us more accessible to our customers. We love teaching classes and would love to widen our assortment of products, so a larger space could help that become a big reality as well. We have constant intern programs running so we would like to develop a larger instructional program and also make our products available for nationwide shipping. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned of all our exciting developments, menu enhancements and tv appearance announcements!

City Cakes NY is located at 215 West 18th St Lower Level, New York, NY

For more information on City Cakes NY visit CityCakesNY.com