My presence on Yelp is new this year. Yelp continues to receive mixed reviews from small business owners about their customer service, but along with business growth, we can expect to do a certain amount of venturing outside our comfort zones to learn new things in support of our business. Advertising is definitely outside of my comfort zone, and the weekly marketing calls I continue to get from the aforementioned marketing platform are not helping.

But one thing I do enjoy about Yelp so far, is that it brought me Kathy and Clark, a pair of love birds getting married in nearby Palo Alto. Their flavors: Carrot, Lemon Chiffon, and Strawberry Chiffon. Their design request: A white cake with bright pink and black floral accents. As Kathy showed me her inspirational Pinterest page, my mind began to race.

I have not made a single sugar flower since pastry school.

Sugar flowers are fussy and time consuming to make. Yes, so is every cake I make…  But for some reason, don’t enjoy making them, so I avoid them. As a result, this skill has atrophied into non-existence. (I’m working on this. Face your fears and all… Rawr!)

Lucky for me, my friend Michelle LOOOOOOVES to make sugar flowers. A fellow Le Cordon Bleu classmate, “She’s fast, and thorough, and sharp as a tack. She’s touring the facility and picking up slack.” – Cake. (I’m actually convinced the band was writing about Michelle when they wrote this song.) She is an absolute perfectionist, and the only other person I would trust to fuss over her work as much as I fuss over mine. Every caker needs a Michelle!

I messaged her…

Me: Are you up for a “hella flowers” kind of project this month?

Michelle: Um, Yeah!

Success was eminent.

The first thing Michelle made me do when we met to collaborate was draw out the cake design I had in my head, another excellent practice, which I have not been keeping. This woman is clearly good for my brain.

Reality check: There is a big difference between keeping a design in your head, and putting it on paper.

When the design lives in your head, it tends to morph and turn into a moving target, causing indecision and creative brain freeze. Once it’s on paper, a decision has been made and finalized. You have a map, a plan, and a commitment.

Fast forward 3 weeks later to delivery day, and I finally got to put my CakeSafe to use!

Cake team gets ready to move the CakeSafe

Awesome Cake Done Right volunteers: Ross, Michelle, Waffles.

It’s important to note here that Ross and Waffles have both been on deliveries with me in the past. They are not cakers, but they help with the heavy lifting, navigation, photography, logistics, and moral support like no one’s business, and I love having them with me on deliveries every chance I get. Also of note, they DO NOT handle the fine details of the finished product, simply because that’s not their area of expertise.

This is why having Michelle on this particular project was extra special. Having gone to pastry school together, we both know what it’s like to assemble a wedding cake. Her hands already know how fragile sugar flowers are, she understands design concepts like visual weight distribution, and she knows how to chill chocolate quickly with an upside-down can of compressed air. (And now you all do, too!)

Inserting the center rod into the CakeSafe.

Time for stabbinating!

Hugging the CakeSafe

I love you, CakeSafe!

Ready for delivery!

Ready to roll!

This cake was so heavy, took three of us to lift the bottom two tiers.

Stacked and ready for flowers!

Stacked and ready for flowers!

Level cake is level.

Let us bow our heads in a moment of silence to honor this example of sheer perfection.

Wedding cake setup

It helps to have a second pair of eyes and hands.

AV roadie.

Waffles managed the Facebook Live during setup.

Live setup video part 1:

Live Setup video part 2:

Almost finished

Almost finished…

Cake Done Right Black Pink Anemone Flower Cascade - 5 tier straight WM

Guests began to arrive just as we finished. I looked around to gather my tools, but could not find them. Michelle had already put them away and loaded them into the car. I turned to retrieve a few pink petals that had broken during set up, but they had already disappeared. I reach to grab the sheet pans. Done. The CakeSafe.  – Done. My purse?! – Got it! I did a visual sweep of the room to make sure we had left nothing behind. My clipboard suddenly appeared beside me, attached to Michelle’s hand. I took the clipboard and went in search of a signature for delivery. By the time I returned, everyone was packed and in the car and ready to go to Sushirito for lunch.

As we nommed our Asian-fusion burritos, I leaned back in my chair and watched my three amazing assistants chatting. I remembered my days as a Stage Manager, and what it was like to lead a team of passionate and talented theatre artists through the adventure of live performances. This delivery reminded me of what it’s like to have a solid, reliable team of badasses on my side. I could not have done it without them, and I would do it a thousand times again.

If ever there were a day when I contemplated what it would be like to have a staff, this was it.