For Marian Louise Callanta, cake is not just a dessert, but a distinctly meaningful art form—one that symbolizes, celebrates, and inspires. Drawing upon her background as a fine artist and, later, as a florist, Marian creates breathtakingly detailed, simple-yet-stunning sugar flower bouquets to adorn her edible masterpieces. Marian enlightens us as to how she was able to outsmart the ultimatum of a starving artist by having her cake and eating it, too.
Where are you from and how did you end up in Charlotte?
I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve been in the States for the past five and a half years and have been in Charlotte for a month now, where I developed Marian Louise Cakes. Prior, I was working at a florist in Brooklyn called The Little Glass Slipper, where I learned so much about flowers and making bouquets.
What drew you to cake decorating as an art form?
I’ve been drawing and painting since I could hold a pencil. I love art so much, but it’s tough to decide what to specialize in as a fine artist. You’d never think being a cake decorator would be the answer, but it was! A cake decorator sculpts, paints, and sketches daily; once a cake is iced, it becomes a blank canvas.
How did you get your start in custom cakes? Did you attend culinary school?
I wanted to pursue art after graduating high school, however, it didn’t seem like the right decision to go to art school. I took a year off instead. During that year, my sister, a pastry chef at the time, introduced me to several cake designers. It felt natural for me to try out cake decorating because I come from a line of bakers and cooks. I later entered a scholarship competition for the Institute of Culinary Education’s cake decorating program and luckily won the full ride! I graduated last October.
How did sugar flowers become your specialty?
When I got into cake decorating, I was following Ron Ben-Israel’s work the most. His sugar flowers are beyond beautiful. Since then, I’ve taught myself how to make them through trial and error, and it just happened to be something I fell in love with.
How do you balance a cake having a good taste with it being pretty?
I see baking as a form of science and cake decorating as a form of art. All of my recipes go through a great deal of research and development. A perfected and delicious recipe means I have the freedom to make it as pretty as possible.
Cakes are a symbol of life.
What is your favorite aspect of baking and decorating these cakes?
Cakes are a symbol of life. When mothers are welcoming a child to the world, they’ll throw a baby shower and when that child turns a new age, there’ll be a party. It goes on; from graduating to getting married, there will be a cake waiting to be sliced. I love creating something special and being a part of people’s successes and milestones in life.