Cake Decorator Aims for Top Spot on Show - The Jewish Voice
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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Cake Decorator Aims for Top Spot on Show

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Lisa Mansour.
Lisa Mansour.
Award-winning Jewish cake decorator competes for first prize on Baking Channel’s new show

Lisa Mansour is working hard on-air to complete a two-tier “fabric cake”, and she has less than an hour left to do it. The segment is being filmed from Lisa’s very own cake supply store located in the heart of Chelsea, the legendary New York Cake, as the award-winning cake decorator is competing for the title of America’s Best Cake Decorator on The Baking Channel’s new original series Cake Show. Among her competitors are other big names in the cake decorating world, including Chef Benny Rivera at City Cakes, Amy Noelle at Sugar Flower Cake Shop and Jennifer Bunce at Hudson Cakery. A panel of highly qualified judges selected by Bake Magazine will vote on an overall winner, who will receive cash prizes and will be featured in Bake Magazine and on bakemag.com.

Despite the camera crew watching her every move, the pressure of the spotlight, and a tight deadline, the famous cake decorator is up for the challenge. “This was a very challenging thing in this short amount of time. But I always have to do something challenging, it makes me better,” she says.

Another challenge for Lisa is the small amount of space she has to make her magic happen. “You don’t have as much space as most decorators we’ve seen,” a surprised camera operator made a note. “It seems to work as an advantage by default, because you work in a cleaner fashion than we’re used to seeing.”

“In New York City space is always an issue,” Lisa teased the young crew, her focus still on the cake. “Whether it’s your apartment or your work space, you get used to small areas because you don’t have much of a choice, so it makes you organized. As a New Yorker you just get used to it and you have to adjust… tiny closets, tiny everything.”

About twenty minutes in came the day’s biggest challenge: kneading the fondant. I don’t know much about baking, in fact, this was the first I’d ever heard of the word fondant, but I can tell you this, maneuvering around that thing looked like no small feat.

“This is my gym for today,” Lisa said jokingly while working on the fondant. I guess that’s how the cake decorator and young mom manages to stay in shape.

“A long time ago we used to make our own fondant, it was an even bigger workout. My mom was an instructor and she had really strong hands from kneading fondant at the time,” she said.

Lisa’s mother, Joan, is one of the pioneers of cake decorating in New York City. “I was always helping her with her classes when I was a kid, so I picked up all of my techniques from her.”

10 minutes left, the segment’s producer calls out.

“10 minutes? I’ve been working so quick I didn’t even get a chance to look at the cake yet,” she said. Lisa quickly began adding the finishing glaze with her pastry brush, her delicate strokes resembling that of an artist with a paint brush, putting final touches on their masterpiece.
Consequently, it is a known fact that pasty brushes and paint brushes are interchangeable. Take for instance 80’s pastry chef turned painter Lisa Tuchek, whose popular paintings have made a name for her in the art world. While Mansour seems content sticking to cake decorating, her designs draw a blurry line between cake, couture and art. “As a decorator you get inspired by all arts,” she says. “Fashion right now is really popular in cake. Especially with brides, they want a wedding cake to match their dress so you have to keep on top of everything, walk down Fifth Avenue, look at bridal magazines, get inspired by fashion and duplicate it in cake.”
When the producer called out the 5 minute mark, it was time to add some bling. “I have to add some bling to this, that’s what everyone wants here in New York. I have to stick it on with a bit of butta cream,” she said in her delightful Brooklyn accent. “Can’t do a cake without it in this city.”

The end result? A feminine, black and white, trendy fabric looking cake. “How does it look?” Lisa asked me, holding up the cake. “Delicious,” I answered, “is the bling edible?”

“Everything is edible, even the shiny stuff,” she told me.

One bite of edible bling and I was in heaven: fashion never tasted so good.

You can follow Lisa’s journey as she competes for the title of America’s Best Cake Decorator on http://www.thebakingchannel.com.

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