WEDDING-Layers of intrigue: Local bakers take the cake!
Who: Riki Tanabe of Albemarle Baking Company
What: The Hawaii native and former apprentice at West Virginia's famous Greenbrier hotel has been in the wedding cake industry for 10 years– eight with Albemarle Baking Company. A self-taught wedding cake designer, Tanabe took the design of normal cakes and "re-enginered" them to create his wedding confections. Albemarle Baking Company uses local and organically grown ingredients.
Cake Philosophy: "If it doesn't taste good, why make it? We present flavors that stand out– we'd rather have good tasting cakes than cakes that only look good. It takes more skill to make a cake taste good."
Who: Frank Cappellino of Crazy Cakes
What: "I got an A+ on my wedding cake in Home Ec in high school– after that, I was hooked," Cappellino says. After discovering his natural talent, Cappellino worked at various hotels and pastry shops in Florida and Pennsylvania, including stints with Disney and Chalet Suzanne. The award-winning pastry chef has perfected several signature styles over 25 years, with his "Madhatter" and "Candybox" cakes winning over brides across the country.
Cake Philosophy: "My skill is my creativity. I create simple or challenging, unique, one-of-a-kind cakes."
Who: Carlotta McIntyre of True Confections
What: After realizing that wedding cakes were just "bigger cakes" while she worked in the restaurant dessert industry, McIntyre began her Charlottesville-based company in 1986. Her one-woman operation is home-based, where she "never bakes ahead or freezes" her culinary products. Her cakes feature mousse fillings of fresh berries, imported chocolate, various liquors and home-made vanilla bean syrups. McIntyre's creations incorporate several personal touches, such as a mirrored cake platter and her own personal glass pillars (rather than plastic) to separate the cake layers.
Cake Philosophy: "If you put too much sugar in the cake, you can't taste the flavors. I tend not to overuse sugar!"
Who: Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations
What: A self-taught baker, Gupta created Maliha less than two years ago after making a cake for her daughter's school. Gathering inspiration from her children, nature, and linens, Gupta incorporates intricate details from a wedding into her cakes, such as an invitation design, a dress or a reception setting (one of her latest cakes was a replica of UVA's Rotunda). "My kids inspire me a lot– their playing, their toys, their bedspreads. I go to the bedding department in Bed, Bath & Beyond for inspiration!" Gupta says.
Cake Philosophy: "Almost anything is possible in cake. Keep your eyes open; ideas are everywhere. I like to provide brides with unusual things."