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karen-portaleo-interview-cake-designer-wedding-thumbIt's always a pleasure for us to host an artist like Karen Portaleo, the cake designer with the majestic touch. If you are looking for inspirations for your wedding cake, or you have got your own cool idea but you believe is not realizable, you should see what Karen is able to do.


Karen’s cakes are a constant source of pleasure, pride and creativity. We could stare her cakes till the end of time, because they are so perfect that eating them seems like committing a cardinal sin. Karen, we really thank you for this interview, and please come to visit us everytime you wish. Now... let's see the questions.

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Karen let's talk about how you have discovered your talent.

I come from a family of artists. My mother is a great painter, and my sister as well. My grandfather was a pastry chef, before he retired, and was very artistic in his work. As a child, I would sit in front of my mother's paintings, and try to reproduce them! In High School, I fell in love with 3 dimensional art, which led to the career I had before cake decorating, which was clay sculpting. I began cake decorating almost by accident, when I visited a friend's bakery. I offered to do some decorated cookies, and this whole career took off from there! That was 5 years ago.

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Your cakes are so close to artworks, I could spend hours to stare them. Are they really eatables?

Yes! However, some times I use what we call "cake dummies" inside the cake. This is styrofoam, usually. I will use this for a cake that is going to be displayed for a long period, or for a bride who wants a large cake to present at her reception, but does not need that much actual cake. Everything you can see on every cake on my website is sugar. I never cover a cake in ANYTHING you could not eat. Even if there is a dummy inside, the outside is always sugar. So what you are seeing in my gallery is all edible, and almost every last picture has cake inside. The sculptural cakes especially are cake, because cake is far easier to sculpt than styrofoam!

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For what kind of events are you requested most? And how many of them are about weddings?

I am asked to do all kinds of events! From weddings, to the celebration of a successful kidney transplant! I love when a client comes to me for the first time to request a birthday cake, and next for a wedding cake, followed by a baby shower cake, and then little birthday cakes! It is the relationships I form with my clients that I find most rewarding! I would say that the volume of wedding cakes depends on the season. Here in the American south, Fall is a VERY popular time for weddings! It can get so hot here, that many brides wait until cooler weather to have their wedding. In the Fall, I am busy busy busy!

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Which was the most strange brief you've ever received from newlyweds?

I am actually doing a wedding cake this weekend for a couple that want to be portrayed as Zombies, rising out of a coffin, with the cake tiers covered with tomb stones! I hope it's not a foretelling of things to come for my lovely young clients! Here in the States, especially in the south, we have a tradition of having a Groom's cake at the wedding. There is the beautiful wedding cake,usually filled with milder flavored cake, and then there is the Groom's cake, which is usually a humorous cake, filled with very decadent flavors, often soaked in liquor! This cake is often a gift from the bride to the groom, and its theme has to do with the groom's interests. I've done the head of Darth Vader, a helicopter, even a cat watching television. People get very creative!

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If a couple comes in Italy to get married, asking for your service, will you accept it?

YES!!!!! My mother's side of the family is Italian. My grandmother came to America from Sicily when she was 12. And yet, I have never been! When I travel to create wedding cakes, I usually contact a kitchen in the area, and arrange to use their facility to produce the cake. Often this is in the venue where the reception will be held. I love to travel, and would be thrilled to create something for a couple who have chosen Italy as the place to marry!

 

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