Raven Patrick De’Sean Dennis III of Cake Man Raven Confectionery
You’re famous for your red-velvet cake. How many of your brides request that?
I’d say 96 percent. They may add in other kinds of cake, but there’s red-velvet in there someplace.
How many clients are doing the cupcake thing?
The past three years have been the big cupcake boom. About 30 percent of my brides do a cupcake tree either at their bridal shower or at the reception. Cupcakes don’t need a plate, so you can save money on the plating fee, too—sometimes up to $7 a head.
How have wedding cakes changed since you got into the business?
No more stairways and fountains and heaven-reaching, dove-flyin’ cakes spinning around, twenty tiers here, sixteen tiers here, and 1,000 people in attendance. Before, it was how tall you can go. Now, it’s how detailed you can go. Very ornamental. Very trinket-y. Or they go straight to the other: basic and plain.
How do you feel about fondant?
I like it for how creative you can get. We did a cake last weekend with fondant; you can make fringe and paint it metallic, do edible glitter, and turn it into bling. I like a cake that does something. It needs to spin, it needs to lean … it can’t be just a straight cake standing up there not having anything to do while the world just passes it by. It needs to be able to say, “Come look at me—I’m turning around, I got some lights going on!”
What are some of the crazier requests you’ve had?
Timbaland’s wedding cake was 26 tiers, and it fed 600 people. The wedding was in Aruba and was beach-themed: The colors were aqua blue, cream, and sand. The whole table was sand from the beach with a pool of water in the center, then fountains in the sand that would shoot up on all four corners. The whole cake sat in the water, the top spinning around. There was a big, round ball that was turquoise, and on the side was a chocolate baby grand piano. We didn’t do live birds on that cake. We’ve had live doves underneath: You get a fancy cage and put them in right when the reception’s about to start so they don’t flutter—they’ll be real relaxed and calm.
Have you ever been asked to do something you wouldn’t do?
Only if it was a hideous color. But most of the time I can convince them to be easy with that. People often call and don’t know how to order a cake. Just because there’s five colors in the color scheme doesn’t mean the cake should have all five, too.
Should you plan on one serving per guest?
More. They run out of food, I notice, at wedding receptions, but never have I done a reception where they’ve run out of cake. People say, “Thank God for that cake, I made dinner out of it!” At the end of the day, I think the cake will last more in the minds of people than the food will, because it’s the last thing they eat.
Spring for Three Tiers
“You need at least three tiers, even if they’re small. With just one or two, it’s gonna look like an overly decorated birthday cake.”
Photo: Henry Hargreaves/New York Magazine