Charmaine Jones now produces her show stopping cakes, in styles like “Extreme,” “Afrocentric,” “Novelty,” and “Conceptual,” in her Hoboken bakery. When Jones started the business, Cakediva (www.cakediva.com), in the early 1990s out of her tiny Manhattan apartment, she didn’t have a clear idea of what to expect. She had earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Loyola University, and drew on both of her parents’ strengths in starting a business. Her father is an architect and her mother has French baking experience. All of which came in handy when she took baking classes and began forging remarkably complex and beautiful cakes that are as much edifice as they are dessert — some of them climb as high as eight feet and are transported to her clients in taxicabs.
One contact led to another, and, in 1992, Jones was asked to prepare one of her Afrocentric cakes for a photograph to be included in “Jumping the Broom, The African-American Wedding Planner” by Harriet Cole. The book, which has sold 9 million copies, led to Jones’ introduction to the fantasy world of soap-opera weddings, birthday celebrations, and showers.
When Jones, an avid fan of the soaps, saw that Noah and Julia, an African-American couple on ABC’s All My Children, were engaged, she began pleading her case for preparing their wedding cake. That particular cake took a while to see the light of day’ — in true soap fashion, Noah was arrested at the altar before the rites were performed and the vows weren’t exchanged until he was able to clear his name. Since then, many of Jones’ cakes, accompanied by more or less drama, have appeared on soaps like All My Children, One Life to Live, and The City.
Cakediva is no mere schtick. This is serious cake. Working with hundreds of possible cake, filling, and frosting combinations, CakeDiva makes cakes from small to huge and from more or less traditional to totally off-the-wall. Prospective clients can sample the cakes at an annual tasting held in her show room or at other events like the bridal show at New York City’s Pierre Hotel. Given the lengths that she goes to research, create, and schlep her creations, it’s no wonder they don’t come cheap. A simple novelty or birthday cake starts at around $250.
Cakediva, 720 Monroe Street, Hoboken 07030. 201-216-0123. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.cakediva.com.