Who do you turn to when you require an affordable custom cake, that not only looks good, but tastes good? Who do you call upon when your child requests to have a cake made of their favorite cartoon character? Where do you go when you need a cake for your themed event?
(Baby Cookie Monster Cake)
The 27 year old Brooklyn, NY chef, specializes in creating custom, specialty cakes. The more challenging, the better.
Shani, and her one-woman team spend hours, sometimes days creating whimsical concoctions of flour, sugar, and frosting to her customers delight.
Shani has been making delcious culinary creations since she was able to walk. In reminiscing on her childhood, the only gifts that she cherished most were a plastic kitchen set, an Easy-Bake Oven, and a plastic chefs hat and apron.
Eventually, she began consuming her Sundays watching Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, and reruns of Graham Kerr. The need for body nourishment and palatial satisfaction, were not the sole purpose she developed a great interest in food – she enjoyed the challenging task of trying to discern the different components and flavors of almost every meal she ate.
(Yo Gabba Gabba Cake)
(Yo Gabba Gabba cupcakes)
I spoke with Shani about baking, batter, and all things SOulDelicious!
Q. Why did you start baking? How long have you been doing it? Do you have any formal training?
A. Cooking has always been a passion of mine. After receiving my B.S. in Business management, I decided to pursue my life long dream and attended the Culinary Arts program at the Institute of Culinary Education. Baking was a way for me to earn extra money and I became really good at it. Not many Chefs can bake.
Q. How did you come up with the name SOuldelicious?
A. I love comfort foods, especially soul food. Soul Delicious derived from my connection with anything that comforts people. Soul food is not just southern food. It’s whatever you grew up eating that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s whatever makes you think of fond memories and great food.
Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A. This is such a great question! I am definitely going to be a diverse individual in the food industry. During the next 5 years, I’m planning to launch, “Soul Child.” A spin-off of my Personal Chef company that will supply healthy, organic baby foods to parents who would like to train their infant(s) palates, exposing them to gourmet flavors. Also, I’m extremely interested in the School Food Program in New York City. I know that I will be a part of the driving force of Chefs, Nutritionists, politicians, and parents who are sick of feeding there children tater tots, and fried nuggets for lunch.
Q. Do you have any advice for someone who also wants to become a baker/personal chef?
A. Working in this field, you have to love it. You can’t focus on how much money you are going to make because, that is not how this industry works, at ALL! You have to work really hard, have basic knowledge of which sector of the industry you would like to work in. Trailing (working at a restaurant, bakery, catering company) for free is vital so that you can find your niche and the company that is right for you.
Q. Where do you come up with your ideas? Your sense of design and style is amazing. Do you have a background in art or design?
A. I was always and artists. I majored in art in Junior High School and attended LaGuardia H.S. of Music and Art and the Performing Arts, in New York City where I also majored in Art. Although I did not stick with it after High School, I use a lot of my talent in designing cakes and cooking.
(Giant Cupcake, Cake)
Q. What events do you enjoy making cakes (cupcakes or cookies) for the most?
I love doing birthday parties for children. They get to see their favorite characters from a different perspective then eat them lol. I almost always leave a little something (toy, puppet etc) – I’d say a gift from me, that the child can take away after the cake is gone.
Q. What’s your top-selling item between cakes, cupcakes, and cookies?
A. Definitely, my cakes. I guess it’s because I can be really creative with the designs and my clients usually give me lots of input on what they want which is vital in this field.
Q. What’s your personal favorite? Do you find yourself eating a lot of what you bake?
A. I love chocolate chip cookies. And yes, I do eat way too many when I’m baking them.
Q. What are some of the craziest ideas clients have asked you to product in cake form?
A. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any outrageous requests; however, I am so prepared for that client when that time comes.
(Guitar Cake – Red Velvet)
Q. What makes your work different from others?
A. I’ve determined that cooking is in my DNA. I come from a family with a southern background, where food unites us.. I’ve learned that food tastes better when you make it with love. Food doesn’t taste good when you don’t put your all into it. Also, I can relate to my clients, I always desire their input in every menu or cake I create. At the end of the day it’s not about me or what I enjoy, it’s about pleasing the client.
Q. How would you compare yourself to someone like the Cake Boss?
A. There is no comparison! I have to pay homage because I am striving to reach to his level of baking and cake design.
Q. How much do your cakes cost?
A. Prices for an extraordinarily delicious buttercake with vanilla bean buttercream, or my latest creation, Blue Suede cake with chocolate Ganache are $100 or less. Customized, 3-tier shower cakes or 3D cakes cost more
Q. If someone wanted to contact you, where can they reach you?
Q. Anything else you’d like to share?
A. Whenever you are pursuing something that you feel passionately about, never let others deter you or convince you otherwise. Follow your heart and you will always be happy.
(Pina Colada Cupcakes)
(Alvin & The Chipmunks Cupcakes)
(Strawberry Shortcake (front) & Oreo Cupcakes (back)
NOTE: All photos are the property of Shani of SOulDelicious. Do NOT steal or use without her permission.