Class Notes & Profiles

Good Enough to Eat

By Bronwen Pardes ’95

Judging by the strict advice she received on cake decorating at the Institute of Culinary Education (“use only pastels”; “no blues or lavenders”) her pastry school teachers might regard her cakes with disapproval. But Elisa Strauss ’98, founder of Confetti Cakes (, sees herself as an artist, not a pastry chef. And whether the creation in question is in the shape of a Manolo Blahnik shoe (made for Blahnik himself) or an Apple computer, her customers are always satisfied with her exquisite, if unorthodox, desserts. “The point of being a designer,” said Strauss, “is to be able to do anything.”

After majoring in art at Vassar, Strauss went on to work in New York City as a designer for Ralph Lauren (she made him a cake in the shape of his Bugatti car) and Frederic Fekkai before going to pastry school. Her background in textile design lends itself to her painstakingly detailed confectionary replicas of everything from a plate of sushi (even the chopsticks are edible) to a golf course.

So far, Strauss’ cakes have been featured in Time Out and New York magazine and on Good Morning America. “I feel like I’ve brought cake design to another realm,” she said. “There are other people who do sculpted cakes. But they might choose brown fondant to describe wood, where I paint the actual wood markings.” And decorating advice aside, her pastry school education pays off in cakes that — impossibly — taste as good as they look. “I don’t think of them as cakes,” she said. “They’re edible sculptures.”