I’m often asked where my introductions, restaurant tips and hot gossip comes from. Of course, the daily 100 or so emails from the best informed PRs are a huge source of information but I should also add that a couple of ridiculously-connected, ear-to-the-ground friends do tip me off regularly. One of them asked me if I’d like to meet Elisa Strauss while I was in NYC. A quick Google search and the answer was a BIG yes. So here is the other interviewee I absolutely wanted to track down before I jetted back to the UK. As she is a college friend of said-connector, I had the perfect intro.
In cake circles, Elisa is a proper, full-on celebrity. Not only has she made and exquisitely decorated cakes for the rich and famous, she has featured on numerous TV shows, written best seller cake cookbooks and teaches at international culinary schools. And her latest venture, teaching online tutorials, has her facing the camera, tools in hand most days of the week.
I was thrilled she had time (between filming) to invite me into her kitchen on the Upper West Side so that we could chat about her edible works of art and her enormous success to date.
Before starting her bakery, Elisa had worked as a textile designer at Ralph Lauren (and this is very relevant when you see the stunning handbag cake creations she has designed). While working in fashion, Elisa attended pastry school at Institute of Culinary Education and graduated with a degree in baking and pastry arts.
Her business, Confetti Cakes, enjoys a cult cake-loving following – while she also consults for a number of food brands looking for her artistic injection. We laughed at the kids-husband -work-balance we all strive to achieve and I simply adored her company. She’s just as a baker should be: warm and fun … oh and doesn’t take herself too seriously at all. Except this is no average cake-baker, I doubt there’s very little Elisa wouldn’t be able to turn into a cake masterpiece.
Here is my interview with Elisa:
Who/what inspires you in your amazing cake designs?
Everything in design and architecture. I’m a tear sheeting fiend. I love textile design, any pattern!
How many cakes do you bake a week?
Right now I have been focusing on online videos both on Craftsy.com and on my YouTube channel- some weeks are planning weeks and other weeks I am working on 10 different projects- cookies, cupcakes and cakes. It’s a hectic schedule.
How often do you eat cake?
I prefer breads and harder pastries- but of course I need to take part in quality control. And I LOVE our cakes recipes, especially when I’m tired, I will be found shoveling in a slice of cake
Which design was the most challenging?
Hard to choose … probably the Victorian House cake we made for a couple for their wedding- we needed to match the paint chips in frosting.
Who would you love to make a cake for?
Jeff Koons- I love his art and I would love to replicate it in cake and have him enjoy it!
How do you relax?
Hot yoga and reading late at night
Where do you love to eat in NYC?
Its hard to narrow it down- so many favorites. Peacefood for Breakfast, Chelsea Market for Lunch and Locanda Verde or ABC Kitchen for dinner
Do you have any London cake plans?
I LOVE to visit London- I would first visit Peggy Porschen’s Parlour and just take in all the other little adorable shops too.
What feels you with fear?
Letting my daughter ride her scooter in NYC
What is your dream?
To have a farm house and have time to paint
Tell us a cake secret.
When working with cake make sure it is cold- it’s much easier to handle.
While it seems that Elisa no longer takes cake orders, luckily for all of us, she has provided an excellent resource in her books. She still very busy teaching online classes like a Designer Handbag Cake or a Sculpted Dog Cake and also holds some private classes. Check out her website for more information.