By Grace Reynolds
ICE alum Elisa Strauss is the owner of Confetti Cakes, a boutique cake design company. Strauss, named one of “America’s Top Ten Pastry Chefs” in 2008 by Dessert Professional Magazine, specializes in hand-sculpted and unique cakes that are best described as edible works of art.
Strauss’ creations have appeared on the Today show, Sex and the City, the View and Martha. Her cakes have also been featured in InStyle, Martha Stewart Weddings, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Elle, Vogue, Modern Bride, New York Magazine, BRIDES, Elegant Bride and The Knot.
This past month, Elisa graciously agreed to share her story with us, offering us a window into the world of professional cake design.
What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?
I was a textile designer in fashion. I worked at Ralph Lauren in the Prints department and then at Frederic Fekkai designing handbags and hair accessories.
And what sparked your decision to attend culinary school?
I loved making cakes for people, I wanted to learn everything about pastry, cakes and chocolates, and how to turn it into a business.
Where was your externship, and where have you worked since graduating?
My externship was with Cheryl Kleinman Cakes in Brooklyn. My one regret to this day was not staying longer before I started my own business. I learned so much from her and her team. I continued to freelance in fashion before going full-time with my business, Confetti Cakes, in 2000. While I continue with my own business, I also work as a cake-consultant.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
My greatest accomplishment is seeing former employees and current students that I have taught and the success they have achieved. But I’m also proud of having written two books, my online videos with Craftsy.com and my Youtube Channel: ConfettiCakes, winning the “Extreme Cake Challenge” on Food Network and being named one of Dessert Professional’s “Top 10 pastry Chefs.”
What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from your time in the industry?
Everything takes longer then you think it will! And there is a wonderful community that revolves around food. You don’t need to be a chef or professionally trained to be involved.
Briefly describe a day in your current working life.
Every day is different, but I always start with a list and it usually doubles by the end of the day!
What might people be surprised to learn about your job?
That a lot of what I do involves the business side of things: PR/marketing, accounting and taking out the trash. It’s not all buttercream and sugar roses.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I have so much ambition—we will just have to wait and see!