Wow! I feel like I'm sharing an interview with a rock star today! If you haven't heard Wendy Kromer's name, I know you've seen her cakes. She pretty much IS Martha Stewart wedding cakes. Pick up any issue of MS Weddings, check out the sources list for the cake credits, and nine out of ten times you'll find Wendy Kromer listed. She also is the co-author of the new book Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes that was just released in December. It is breathtaking!
So many of her cakes are classics in the industry. They are just spectacular works of art that show true innovation and creativity. I've always really admired her work, and sent an e-mail a few months ago on the slim chance that maybe I'd get an answer back (but at best, was expecting a letter from an assistant saying that Wendy was too busy). I couldn't believe it when I opened my e-mail a few days later to find the sweetest note from Wendy herself, saying she'd love to talk to me. I think I felt the same way that some people would feel if they got that same e-mail from Bono!
Anyway, I really wanted to interview Wendy because I had found out about a great resource she offers to brides and decorators. Many of her classic cakes can actually easily be reproduced through the pieces you can order through her on-line confectionery shop! So, if you loved the cherry blossom cake but can't afford to fly Wendy out to your wedding, you can order the cherry blossoms and have your cake decorator apply them to the cake they make for you. Other designs they offer are the wild strawberry set, marzipan cherries, magnolias, hellebores, wild daisies, fruit and leaves, and a beautiful woodland forest kit. And my favorite cake topper? Two sweet little sugar song birds. She also offers monogrammed initial cake plaques and beautiful decorated cookies for favors.
But enough from me! Here's my interview with Wendy; I love the story about her own wedding dessert!
How did you get your start?
BAKING AND DECORATING WAS A HOBBY SINCE I WAS 6 OR 7 YEARS OLD, AND CRAVED SWEETS. MY MOTHER AND MY AUNT EVELYN WERE BIG INFLUENCES ON ME, AS WELL AS MY INSATIABLE APPETITE FOR SWEETS! MOM WAS A GOURMET COOK WHO NEVER HAD TIME TO MAKE DESSERTS (6 KIDS, NO TIME); AND AUNT EVELYN WAS A CAKE DECORATOR. IT WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING I DID, BUT WHEN I WAS ENDING MY FIRST "CAREER", I DECIDED TO TRY TO TURN THE HOBBY INTO A SECOND CAREER. AT THE AGE OF 32, I STUDIED PROFESSIONAL PASTRY & BAKING AT PETER KUMP SCHOOL OF CULINARY ART (NOW THE INSTITUTE OF CULINARY EDUCATION, ICE) IN NYC.
What was your big break? You have a shop in Ohio, yet are better known than many bakers in New York or LA. What's your secret?
MY BIG BREAK CAME WHEN THE EDITORS AT MARTHA STEWART LIVING SAW A CAKE THAT I MADE FOR A CULINARY ART SHOW IN NYC. I LIVED IN NYC FROM 1992 UNTIL 2004, SO THE EARLY YEARS OF MY CAREER WERE SPENT IN NYC. AS YOU WELL KNOW, ONE CAN LIVE JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE THESE DAYS, AND STILL DO BUSINESS, THANKS TO THE INTERNET. ALSO, THE WORLD IS A MUCH "SMALLER PLACE" NOW, THAN IT WAS 40 YEARS AGO. PEOPLE THINK/SHOP GLOBALLY MORE THAN EVER. AND, ALTHOUGH I'VE MOVED FROM NYC, THE MS WEDDINGS EDITORS AND I CONTINUE OUR WORK TOGETHER, DESIGNING THE WEDDING CAKE STORIES FOR THE MAGAZINE.
You've been a part of many amazing weddings and photo shoots. What are some favorite details or design elements you've seen?
I LOVE THE LOOK OF TEXTURE ON CAKES, WHETHER IT BE OBTAINED BY A PIN PRICK, RUBBER STAMPS, PIPING BAG, EDGE OF A KNIFE, ETC. ONE CAN CREATE VERY INTERESTING TEXTURES.
Many of your cakes have become "famous" through the pages of Martha Stewart Living. What are your three favorites that you've created, and why?
1). THE SEVEN TIERED SAMPLER, I LOVE ALL THING ANTIQUE/VINTAGE. THIS
PARTICULAR CAKE PAYS HOMAGE TO A BYGONE ERA AND THE MASTERFUL BAKING
& DECORATING ARTIST, JOSEPH A. LAMBETH. I LOVE THE FACT THAT IT IS A WHITE-ON-WHITE CAKE WITH MULTIPLE PIPED DETAILS THAT ADD DEPTH AND DIMENSION TO THE DESIGN.
2). THE BLUE WEDGWOOD CAKE... I LOVE MIXING PATTERNS ON CAKES AND THIS ONE IS A CLASSIC. THIS CAKE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN SPRING OF 2000 AND WE STILL GET REQUESTS FOR IT TODAY. I FEEL THE DESIGN IS TIMELESS, JUST LIKE THE CHINA.
3). THE PRIMROSE CAKE, FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE WINTER/SPRING ISSUE OF LIVING, IN 1997. THE TIERS APPEAR TO BE LIFTED BY THE SMALL GUM PASTE PRIMROSE CLUSTERS. THIS TOO IS AN EVERGREEN PIECE, AS I STILL GET REQUESTS TO MAKE IT. IT MIGHT ALSO BY MY FAVORITE BECAUSE IT WAS MY FIRST WEDDING CAKE STORY FOR THE MAGAZINE, AND THUS MY FIRST COVER. A VERY THRILLING MOMENT!
I don't want to use the word trends, because your cakes are always
timeless and classic. However, your designs are always fresh! So what kinds of special things are you doing with wedding cakes right now?
COLOR....BOLD, GRAPHIC, POPPING COLOR ON CLASSIC WHITE BACKGROUNDS.
What is the process for a bride looking for a dream wedding cake?
ONCE THE COUPLE HAS THEIR WEDDING DATE, RECEPTION SITE, AND CATERER BOOKED WE SCHEDULE A TASTING APPOINTMENT. AT THE SE APPOINTMENTS, THE COUPLE NOT ONLY CAN TASTE A WIDE VARIETY OF OUR CAKES & FILLINGS, BUT ALSO THE HAVE THE TIME TO VIEW MY PORTFOLIO, AND DISCUSS EVERY LITTLE DETAIL OF THEIR WEDDING DAY. I REQUEST THE BRIDE BRING HER WEDDING FILE AND ANY IDEAS SHE AND HER FIANCE MAY HAVE FOR THE CAKE. WE TREAT THE APPOINTMENT AS A BRAINSTORMING SESSION. I OFTEN SKETCH DURING THE APPOINTMENTS AND SOMETIMES WE CAN FULLY DEFINE THE CAKE DETAILS BEFORE THE COUPLE LEAVES.
Tell us about your on-line confectionery shop. I think it's a
great resource that a lot of brides are unaware of. AT WENDYKROMER.COM, WE FEATURE MANY OF THE CAKE DECORATIONS THAT HAVE APPEARED ON CAKES IN THE MARTHA STEWART WEDDING MAGAZINE AND BOOKS. ITS A WAY TO HELP BRIDES, ESTABLISHED & BUDDING CAKE DECORATORS, AND THE HOME COOK, GET THE DECORATIONS THEY SEE IN THE MAGAZINE. WE CANNOT OFFER ALL THE DECORATIONS I'VE DONE OVER THE YEARS, BUT WE DO TRY TO PICK THE DECORATIONS THAT HOLD UP BEST IN SHIPPING; ARE EASIEST TO WORK WITH; AND ARE NOT SO COST PROHIBITIVE (SOME DECORATIONS ARE SO TIME-CONSUMING TO MAKE). WE WILL ALSO DO CUSTOM DECORATIONS FOR BRIDES AND DECORATORS, IF TIME ALLOWS.
And finally, I seem to remember seeing your own wedding in MSL a few years ago, and if I remember correctly, you served pie! What is the story behind this?
BOTH MY HUSBAND AND I LOVE PIE. AS WE ARE SURROUNDED BY CAKE ON A DAILY
BASIS, PIE SEEMED LIKE A GREAT ALTERNATIVE! WHO WON'T EAT A PIECE OF FRESH PIE? WHAT MADE IT EVEN RICHER WAS THE FACT THAT SEVERAL MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS HELPED US MAKE ALL OF THEM (160 PIES). A LOT OF LOVE WENT INTO THOSE LITTLE GEMS!
Thank you so much Wendy! I loved hearing your story.