As the owner of I Do’s by Deb, acclaimed wedding cake designer Debbie Jensen is always on the go. But having recently joined the Tahoe Wedding Industry Group (TWIG), Debbie was kind enough to sit down long enough to answer a few questions for us.
How did you get your start as a Cake Designer?
It all began in Paris, floating through the city like an ethereal creampuff after watching a Croquembouche (the traditional French wedding cake) demonstration at the famed Maxim’s restaurant. I had trained as a classical chef, then spent 10 years in pursuit of pastry, including many trips to Europe for training. My cake decoration skills developed as an offshoot of being a Pastry Chef. My creative instincts and fashion background naturally transferred into this edible art form.
Describe your style of work in 3 words.
Cutting-Edge, Eclectic, Updated
What are some of your most memorable cake creations?
The largest cake I’ve ever made served 3000 people, for the opening of the new San Francisco Library in the early 1990’s. It was an open book in Tiramisu with cocoa paintings and flying winged books, like the mural in their stairwell. It took two moving trucks to carry each half and was put together on site.
For Warren Buffet’s 70th birthday, I made a birthday cake for an intimate restaurant celebration that included Bill Gates among the invited guests. Afterwards, feedback was that other diners were so impressed by the cake that they didn’t even notice the two celebrities! Later, I had the honor to make a wedding cake for Mr. Buffet, which included an Elmer J. Fudd and Petunia cake top and old fashioned copper glasses like Warren’s.
The largest wedding cake I’ve ever designed was for Neal Schon of the band Journey and Michaele Salahi, a reality T.V. star. The theme of their Pay Per View, Palace of Fine Arts wedding was “Winter Wonderland”. The cake was over 6’ tall and was birch inspired with thousands of white sugar flowers.
What’s trending right now for wedding cakes and or wedding desserts?
Lots of fun things are trendy!
- Natural stone elements in marbled fondant, sugar geodes and geometric figures
- Semi-Naked cakes, dripping glazes and multiple toppings such as macaroons, flowers, meringues, etc.
- Hand-Painted Cake designs, and abstract modern art color stripping.
- Vintage Swirl buttercream patterns, other interesting buttercream textures without piped edges, straight clean minimalist designs, the return of buttercream flowers in realistic shaded colors.
- Interesting use of metallic gold and silver-leaf as well as other luster metallics.
- Focal florals that don’t “top” the cake
- Greenery only: ferns to air plants, succulents, olive, eucalyptus and shades of brighter Pantone “greenery”
- Watercolor design and rice-paper prints
- Galaxy glazed cakes and airbrushed designs
- Boho, the modern gypsy!
- Focal Cutting cakes or “Sweetheart cakes” with a styled dessert display of mini fun pastries to doughnuts
- Cake tables can be anything: Vintage furniture, wine barrels, suitcases, or suspended in mid air!
Why should someone hire you to design their wedding cake?
I strive to make each wedding unique. I am very eclectic in my skillset and style sensibilities and have years of experience listening and extracting the key elements from my clients to create not just a cake but a delicious memory!
What is your source of inspiration for your wedding cake designs?
Inspiration is everywhere; first, I try to learn the personalities of the couple and then learn about the venue and time of year. From there, particular elements pertaining to the wedding such as themes, invitations, wedding gown style, etc. can play in. Instagram, Pinterest and other social media aid in this and have revolutionized the cake industry worldwide. I am constantly pushing the boundaries of style and stay conscious of certain trends, but the real gift is in striking a balance of several elements to get the right design. Sometimes couples get engaged and rush into tasting cake before they spend time to formulate enough elements to concentrate on the design. Possibilities are endless, so it is nice to have a starting out point.
What design of cake would you recommend for a Lake Tahoe wedding couple?
It depends on the time of year and the unique setting. A winter white theme could go Boho with geodes, feathers and antlers while a spring/ summer could feature greenery, ferns, floral and woodsy notes. A lakeside view can go Coastal with hints of slivery blues! That’s the fun of a Tahoe based location…. So many possibilities!
When you’re not designing wedding cakes, we’ll find you…
…dancing Salsa with my lovely husband, working on my home and garden, traveling and wine tasting, or entertaining friends and family around my large and well used farm table!