Foodcellfie Interviews @Bonvivantcakes
Interview with Bon Vivant Cakes!
The first time I saw one of Emily's cakes, I was transfixed. They look just like a party, the kind with good music and people dancing everywhere and everyone is just the right amount of tipsy. Her style is so unique and I knew I wanted to interview her! In person she's just as bubbly and fun as her cakes...Read on to see where she draws her inspiration from!
How long have you been running Bon Vivant Cakes?
I first came up with idea about a year ago, but at the time it was just baking cakes for friends. But then enough people were like, “Hey you should do this, you’re really good!” So I thought, maybe there’s something to this...I launched the website in October in 2015.
Do you think your cake decorating style reflect off your personality, and if so, how?
For sure. I’m a 90’s girl, so I grew up being a totally Lisa Frank freak. My style icon is Fran Fine from “The Nanny.” I’m a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist, creatively, and generally like to do things MY WAY- I think those qualities definitely come through with my cakes, and that fiercely independent streak in my personality is helping me make my own lane in the Chicago cake community.
For all the non-bakers out there, why do you like working without fondant?
A few reasons. Most importantly, fondant doesn’t taste good, and I find the thought of eating sugar clay very unappetizing. There is NOTHING more disappointing than a dessert that looks amazing and tastes like garbage- I firmly believe that a cake should taste as good as it looks. I also love creative problem solving, and I feel like a lot of my creativity is a result of having to be resourceful and use what you’ve got on hand. I learned that skill from my mom, who owns and runs a Mediterranean restaurant in Newburgh, Indiana called Cafe Arazu. She and I are both self-taught bakers, and she’s a total badass. Watching her open a restaurant at age 50 really inspired me to start my own business- if my mom can do it, I can too.
How do you work with a customer to determine the final look of a cake but still stay true to your style?
Good question, that’s something I’m still navigating. I’m always kind of the opinion, if you find an artist you like, the best thing you can do is give them a box to play in and then let them go! I try to take into account who the cake is for, details about them, interests, etc. I just did this cake for a girl who was going to grad school program that’s rooted in global travel. She provided a thoughtful description of who she was and what was important. Grad school was an opportunity to start something new, kinda scary, but she was looking forward to it. She appreciated how much detail went into my cakes, and she wanted to take that meticulous attention into grad school. The cake turned out really well. I felt really good about it, I took a part of her and created a feeling.
Describe a fun/memorable experience with Bon Vivant Cakes!
I’ve been around long enough to start getting repeat customers. Sounds corny but one of the best things about this is being able to get to know people and help them celebrate the big moments in their life. You don’t get a cake when you’re having a bad day, you get a cake to celebrate! I just got done with a really fun weekend of cakes- I got to make a sex reveal cake for a couple having twin girls, which is inarguably the cutest possible outcome. For another cake, I learned about the Korean 100 Day Celebration, Baek-il! This couple was particularly special because their baby boy surprised everyone by coming several months early, so they had a lot to celebrate.
That’s the thing that drew me to cake in the first place. I never got into the cupcake thing- something about the solitary experience of eating a cupcake never really appealed to me, although I admit that a really beautiful cupcake is a nice way to experience luxury. But you don’t get a cake for just one person, you get a cake when you gather up the people that you love to sit down and share a moment. I love that!
What are your plans for the future?
The future...I don’t know! I’ve always thought of myself, first and foremost, as a musician and singer. I’m in a band called Celine Neon with my best friend and it’s something I’ve put everything into for the past few years. I went to school to perform and now I’ve discovered this whole other thing which I love just as much, if not more. I’m in the honeymoon phase of this relationship, where we’ve just met and are just getting to know each other. I’m interested to see where it goes.
Any last words?
I think that the thing I love the most about making these zany cakes is that I get to be responsible for these tiny moments of wonder. We don’t get nearly enough moments of pure childlike joy and excitement as adults. I’m doing my best to change that.
Bon Vivant Cakes
Images courtesy of Scott Thompson Photo