Christine D'Angeli literally lives for cake decorating. At 36, this Phoenix, Arizona, resident spends 10 hours a day, six days a week designing and decorating cakes, pies and other fine properties for her many clients.
For more than 14 years, Chef D'Angeli has used her talents in a variety of culinary endeavors, including as Executive Pastry Chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix, as well three other Ritz-Carlton facilities. However, her dream of opening her own cake studio came true after winning the grand prize on an episode of the Food Network Challenge.
Today, Chef D'Angeli owns and operates SLiCE Cake Designs, a custom cake studio where she creates confections for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, baptisms and more. She recently took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with LoveToKnow Cake Decorating about her life as a cake designer.
Getting Her Start
After graduating from culinary school, she traveled around the country at various 4 and 5 star hotels, resorts and restaurants. She was fortunate enough to work at The Trapp Family Lodge and meet the real Trapp family. She also spent time working at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Florida, where she was able to feed many famous golfers the facility's legendary Key Lime Pie. Other culinary endeavors included being a part of the re-opening of the famous Russian Tea Room in New York City, and working for the highly acclaimed Jean-Georges Vongerighten in the opening of a boutique hotel in Houston called Hotel Icon. In 2009, Chef D'Angeli worked with one of Food & Wine's Best New Chef recipients, Bryan Caswell.
LoveToKnow (LTK): How did you get started in cake decorating or designing?
Christine D'Angeli (CD'A): I started my career in a family-run bakery in my hometown of Huntington, New York, named Reinwald's Bakery.
LTK: Did you have to go to school for this?
CD'A: Yes, I attended The Culinary Institute of American in Hyde Park, New York, and graduated in 1996 with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts.
LTK: How did you know you wanted to be a cake designer?
CD'A: Being a pastry chef I love all types of pastry; from Danishes to ice creams. By designing cakes; it allows me to take part in people's celebrations. We can connect on the level that we both want their celebration to be a success, remembered with fond memories while enjoying their high quality custom designed creation. I work with them to make it special just for them. It's that personal connection that drives me to do what I love. Business should be doing what you love everyday! I love getting to know my clients and getting to wow them and creating a relationship for life.
Food Network Challenge
While working at the Ritz-Carlton, Chef D'Angeli received a phone call that would change her life forever. Producers from the Food Network Challenge show invited her to participate in an upcoming episode. Food Network Challenge pits three professional chefs against each another in a task that is in their own specialty. In August 2009, in episode six of the show's ninth season, Chef D'Angeli walked away the winner, taking home a $10,000 grand prize and a gold medal.
LTK: What made you decide to take part in the Food Network Challenge?
CD'A: The Food network called me and asked me to participate in an "unusual" Challenge. I of course said yes!! Getting the chance to meet the judges and the people who work on the show is an opportunity that I was not going to pass up! I consider myself blessed that they reached out and invited me to participate.
LTK: What did you create while on the show and why?
CD'A:The challengers were asked to re-create a famous bridge out of Rice Cereal Treats. I re-created the Valentre Bridge in Cahors, France. I saw the bridge originally in a painting and was taken by its fairytale quality. When I found out it was a real bridge, I just had to make it! It turns out that one of the judges had actually been on that particular bridge!!! No pressure there right?!
LTK: What was it like being on the show?
CD'A: Being on the show was a whirlwind. The stress of competing and being on national television is overwhelming. The people who work for the show are such professionals and very warm and genuine, so they make you feel comfortable. It was by far the hardest experience in my life.
LTK: Any plans for future Food Network television appearances?
CD'A: I will definitely compete or appear on the Food Network if they ask me to participate again.
With the money she won from the Food Network Challenge, Chef D'Angeli's dream came true. She opened up her very own cake design studio in Phoenix, Arizona.
LTK: What made you decide to open SLiCE?
CD'A: SLiCE was born from opportunity and necessity. I had been recently laid off with the economic downturn. Jobs were scarce. Winning the Food Network Challenge' gave me the opportunity to start SLiCE. I have always dreamed of doing this, and now I am!
LTK: What have been some of the most unique cakes you have designed?
CD'A: Most recently I designed a 3D hot dog cake. The hot dog is standing up with a chef hat and apron in front of a grill. Very cute! The picture is on my SLiCE Facebook page.
LTK: What challenges do you face when deciding on a cake's design?
CD'A: The hardest part about deciding a cake's design is narrowing it down to the particular elements that I am going to use. There are so many ideas in my head, picking a few is like choosing a favorite child.
LTK: Can you share of your cake decorating secrets?
CD'A: Plan ahead. Do what you can. And call a professional like me to do the cake! It will save you time, stress, and you will have a fabulous addition to your celebration by wowing your guests with a fun creation!
LTK: Is there anything else you'd to share?
CD'A: Connecting with the people that I am making the cake for is enriching. I get to participate in creating lasting personal memories. Working with each person is a learning experience. I love what I do and I love to exceed their expectations.
For More Information
You can reach Chef D'Angeli at SLiCe Cake Designs:
- Online at SLiCE Cake Designs
- Through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
- By calling (480) 522-9520