Making cakes – and memories

Talking with Ana Parzych is a pretty sweet way to spend time.

After all, a chat with the owner and creative director of Ana Parzych Cakes might touch on toasted almond, lemon, dark chocolate or white Tahitian vanilla cake. That’s not to mention the mouthwatering fillings, from dulce de leche to blackberry mousseline to bittersweet ganache.

And that’s just for starters, as the possibilities are seemingly endless for Parzych’s one-of-a-kind cakes that have become darlings of the wedding circuit.

Often referred to as a “sugar artist,” Parzych has been delighting brides, bridegrooms and their guests throughout Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island — and destinations beyond — since launching her business in 2006.

“We’ve gone as far as Dubai with our cakes,” she says.

“Ninety percent of the cakes we do are for weddings, but we do all kinds of cakes,” Parzych adds, mentioning a Chrysler Building-inspired cake created for a New York real estate developer and holiday cakes designed for celebrations at the historic mansions in Newport.

Parzych’s cakes have been featured on the Food Network and “The Today Show,” in Martha Stewart Weddings, BRIDES and People magazines plus The Knot, among other national outlets.

Today, Parzych oversees her edible empire from a main studio and showroom in Cheshire, in New Haven County, where all the baking is done, with a satellite office in Greenwich where she meets clients in an elegant suite dotted with models of fanciful cakes.

All is by appointment, with tastings always scheduled in advance.

She’s not operating, she says, a retail establishment.

“We don’t sell cookies.”

Greenwich is where WAG is chatting with Parzych on a recent afternoon, despite the impending start of the June wedding season — what we imagine is her busiest.

“You can’t say that anymore because fall is really popular,” Parzych tells us. And gone, too, is the prevalence of Saturday morning weddings. “People get married any day now.”

No matter when, where or how, Parzych is ready to make the accompanying cake, often a showstopping creation designed specifically to celebrate — and reflect — the special couple.

AN ARTISTIC THREAD

Born in Peru, the artistic Parzych says she has had, “a passion for baking since I was young, very young.”

Though she loved to bake, she says, “Nobody thought it was a glamorous career, pastry chef.”

So, she went on to study graphic design and painting before moving to Japan, where her family was from. 

But Parzych realized that baking would be her path and she began working in a bakery, continuing her career development when she came to America.

She says she “decided to be more professional,” so she took courses at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.

Ana Parzych’s “Pink & Gold Wedding Cake,” designed for an event held at Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, RI. Photograph by Justin & Mary Photography.

Her self-designed career has been a way to combine her two loves, baking and fine art, in a most fulfilling way.

Work for the mother of three is also a family affair. Her husband of 20-plus years, Garry Parzych, “manages the day-to-day operations,” she adds, with Ana often tapping into his engineering background.

“I basically design all the cakes, and then I ask him, ‘How do we make it work?’” she says with a laugh.

SIGNATURE STYLE

Today, she still sees herself as an artist, her canvas the cake. Of note, her cake sketches are also considered works of art, with Parzych often giving them to the family to frame as another remembrance of the day.

Her approach reflects a particular point of view, something her clients connect with.

“I would say we do the timeless, elegant cake,” she says.

But today’s wedding cakes, she notes, are far from ordinary.

“It used to be it was this plain, boring white cake,” she says. “It’s not like that anymore.”

And when it comes to mixing flavors and designs, Parzych is all about trying new things — and pleasing the clients.

“If we can do it, why not?”

She likes nothing more than getting to know the couple, from their likes to their style, so the cake becomes a reflection of their life together.

But there’s more to it than that.

“They think it’s going to look pretty but it’s not going to taste good,” she says, delighting in surprising them with the complete experience.

Parzych created this “Summer Cake with Cascading Sugar Flowers” for an event held at Eolia Mansion at Harkness State in Waterford, CT. Photograph by Elizabeth Messina.

Parzych is perhaps best-known for her floral work, creating delicately elaborate flowers that spill over a cake’s layers.

“They are all custom-made for each client,” she says. “We don’t have, like, stacks of flowers.”

She often replicates the flowers of the centerpieces in sugar, with elements of the invitations showing up on the cakes, as well.

“Of course, I’m always experimenting with new techniques,” she says.

She often works with fresh flowers to get the details just right.

“What brings them to life is the coloring and the dusting,” she says of her process.

Everything is edible — Parzych might use edible gold or silver leaf or an FDA-approved gold dust. “I call it makeup for cakes.”

DAY TO DAY

And while she is usually booked months in advance, there are times when she can accommodate those last-minute requests. 

“Of course, they can always call,” she says. “We can’t guarantee we’ll be available but I always suggest they call.”

Though every day is different, Parzych tries to focus on office work Mondays and Tuesdays, reaching out to clients and working on sketches. 

“As the week goes, then I need to concentrate on the actual cakes,” she says with a smile, noting she works with her “trusted and trained” staff on the actual creation — everything is made from scratch — with weekends often reserved for the deliveries.

“For the ones that have to be set up on site, I usually go myself,” she says. “Sometimes I have this design in mind and I want it to be perfect.”

That dedication is what her clients come to rely on; Parzych’s enthusiasm for her work is palpable.

“I enjoy the whole process. Think about it. It’s just sugar, basically. I really love (how) the designs come to life.”

Long after the cakes have been savored, Parzych’s creations live on, in the memories of all those who gathered to celebrate.

“That’s the most rewarding part of my job, to contribute to a happy occasion. It’s so special for them.”

For more, visit anaparzychcakes.com.

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