Sylvia Weinstock's wedding cakes are works of art that leave behind great memories, even after the last slice has been consumed.
By Patricia Abaroa
For over thirty years, Sylvia Weinstock has been creating masterpieces of edible art. In her country home in Hunter Mountain, New York, Sylvia found a way to reinvent herself while her husband, Benjamin, and three daughters took to the slopes. Sylvia didn’t ski, so she stayed indoors and baked. She remembers baking more than anyone would actually eat, and soon began supplying desserts to local restaurants. The former school teacher was in her 50s before she decided to go into the business of cakes.
Her first cake was crafted for a friend of her daughter’s, who displayed it in her shop. This caught the eye of a chef who worked with New York caterer Donald Bruce White. His clients were amazed by Sylvia’s cakes, and soon after, her creations were all the rage with the New York city elite.
Weinstock, whose prestigious clientele includes Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Dylan Lauren and Jennifer Lopez, has been nicknamed the “Davinci of Cakes". She attributes her success to her battle against breast cancer. During her healing process, she was asked, by Chef William Greenberg, Jr., to satisfy orders for romantic floral cakes, which he had no time to complete, and this was the path for Sylvia’s renowned signature sugar-paste flowers to blossom. With the precision of Weinstock’s confections, it would be hard to deny her fondness for flowers. She recalls taking apart a rose and recreating it, petal by petal, before putting them together to replicate the beautiful rose, exactly. "You have to love flowers. You have to look at flowers from a botanical and a mechanical point of view. You have to like doing this very much, so your eyes are always open," she says.
The icing on the cake is that Weinstock’s creations are not just splendid looking, they are are also delicious. This gastronomic artist prides herself in using the finest ingredients and loves using fresh fruit, imported chocolate and whipped cream. Aesthetically, she can’t pinpoint a favorite cake but does mention her favorite flavor combination. ”My favorite is a lemon and raspberry yellow butter cake. In terms of looks, I don't think there is a favorite. It's sort of like asking a mother, ‘Which one of all your children do you prefer?’ Nobody's going to answer that one," she jokes.
This coming February, she and her husband, Benjamin, will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. They share a stunning five-story TriBeCa home, where the two lower floors serve as Sylvia’s studio. In an ironic twist, the Weinstocks had no cake at their wedding. “The funny part of it is, come February we are married 65 years, and never had a wedding cake. We were two young students who probably had a glass of wine in celebration and a piece of honey cake, which was traditional at that time, and that was it,” shares Weinstock. Since then, of course, things have changed and Weinstock now considers a beautiful cake an essential part of any wedding. “I realize that wedding cakes are a major item at every wedding, they stand as important as the bridal gown and are the last thing one remembers from the event.”
The Weinstocks never seem to skip a beat. In an exciting partnership, Sylvia Weinstock's cakes will now be available at the St Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami Beach, sealing the resort’s title as South Florida’s premiere wedding destination. Sylvia is elated about this new juncture and has even more plans: the Weinstocks are looking into licensing and branding, designing products that enhance their brand name and even expanding to Asia and the Middle East. “We want to share the beauty of what we do with other people in the world,” says Weinstock of her future plans.
“Each cake that goes out is beautiful, and the challenge is always there to make it as individual as possible,” according to her inspiration, and she adds, “To have people come up to you in the street and say, ‘You made my wedding cake, I can't thank you enough.’ And those who come back years later and say, ‘You made my wedding cake, now I want you to make my daughter's.’" The lasting impression that Sylvia’s cakes leave seems to motivate and inspire her to continue creating exquisite cakes that are remembered long after the last slice has been consumed. ■
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