Celebrated cake maker Sylvia Weinstock is happy to dish about her sweet treats, but when it comes to details about dollars, her lips are sealed.
“Most women tell their girlfriends it cost more, and tell their husbands it cost less,” said Weinstock on Jan. 8 at the Katzen Arts Center. “But I’m not telling anything.”
Dubbed “the Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes” by Bon Appetit, Weinstock spoke as part of the 54th annual Washington Antiques Show. Held for the first time at the Katzen, the event showcased 54 dealers from the United States and Europe, who offered a variety of period furnishings, vintage jewelry, ceramics, garden accents, and more.
The five-day gala, which benefited Washington’s Thrift Shop Charities, also featured antiques’ appraisals and guest speakers, including Weinstock, who detailed stories behind her favorite creations.
There was the towering, four-foot couture cake she designed for the wedding of Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas and the edible sailboat for newsman Geraldo Rivera’s birthday.
“It was ordered by one of his wives,” recalled Weinstein. “You know, he’s had quite a few.”
There was the groom’s cake that looked like a cigar box, and the fashionista’s cake in the shape of a stiletto. And, just as one might expect, the Manhattanite has made “many a Birkin bag.”
Though she started out as a school teacher, Weinstock was always creative in the kitchen.
“Long before Martha Stewart, I loved to set a table, entertain, and cook. And though my pot roast was terrific, my desserts were better,” she laughed.
Soon, Weinstock gave up the chalkboard for a mixing bowl, setting up shop in Tribeca in 1980. “In those days, you either had a delicious cake or a beautiful cake—I wanted to give people both,” said Weinstock, who still lives above the Church Street shop.
With the help of a staff of about 15, Weinstock quickly made a name for herself, designing “edible art” for thousands of society weddings, celebrity parties, and inaugural balls. Each of her confections features a small chocolate disc with her signature black-rimmed eyeglasses.
“It was my husband’s idea. He said, ‘Picasso signed his work, and so should you,’” she recalled.
Although her cakes have been shipped around the globe—she accompanied one cake by plane, car, and boat to Sardinia—Weinstock said she’s only had “one or two cake disasters.” One of the butter-cream beauties melted in the Caribbean, and an airline once lost one layer of a four-tiered cake.
“Still, not a bad track record,” she laughed.
After her talk, Weinstock signed copies of her latest book, Sensational Cakes, while the crowd of several hundred sampled two confections created especially for the event.
And the icing on the cake? Each audience member also received Godiva chocolates in the shape of Weinstock’s creations.