Dessert. It’s the best part of any meal. Sweet endings come in the form of many culinary confections and for artist Samantha Brooks, cake is the front runner. A one woman show, Brooks bakes, decorates and delivers her delicious works of art for events such as weddings, birthday parties and social events. It’s a dream that is finally coming to fruition, after dabbling in just about every form of art.
“I grew up in Syosset and graduated high school in 2001. From there I went to community college and majored in art education to become an art teacher,” said Brooks, who also demonstrated prowess on the court as a Division III basketball and volleyball player. “I went to CW Post and majored in fine arts. I was always a creative artsy person and touched base on sculpture, painting, drawing, but I got bored.”
Primed with her artistic background, Brooks took her talent down another avenue, this time enrolling in the Culinary Academy of Long Island, which she attended for a year and a half, before training with a pastry chef in Manhattan.
“I worked in Manhattan for a bit and then decided that I wanted to do more large scale creations so I worked for a catering company back on Long Island. I was an assistant for about a year and then became the head pastry chef for four years,” said Brooks, who baked for events of 3,000 people per weekend.
Plated desserts and high volume pastries weren’t cutting it, so Brooks reached out to a cake designer in Scarsdale, NY with a reputation for having the best cake boutique. She heard he was opening up a Chelsea location and hoped to have a part there.
“He told me that if I trained with him for free for the whole summer and if I nailed it, he would make me the senior cake designer in Manhattan—and he did,” said Brooks, who practiced by putting parchment paper all over her bedroom and practiced scroll work with a piping bag. She ran the store and built up an impressive list of clientele including Angelina Jolie, Justin Bieber, Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Lopez.
After seeing a need for something fresh on the Long Island bakery scene, Brooks realized she could be the one to bring something new to the table and began her own business. She has worked out of a warehouse in Syosset for the past three years as SamiCakes Boutique LLC and also provides cakes for the facility as well.
“I’ve been doing cakes for five years and I go the extra mile for every cake, no matter what it is,” said Brooks. “What makes me different is that I incorporate furniture with the cakes and try to use every form of material like modeling chocolate, gum paste, fondant and royal icing. I airbrush, hand paint and I love doing 3D pieces.”
Aside from spending every day doing what she loves, Brooks finds cake designing very rewarding as she gets to be a part of important events in people’s lives.
“Every week is something different and being my own boss is very regimented,” she said, adding that she can’t take on a full time staff right now but would like to in the future. “The most I’ve ever done is 15 cakes a week. I’ve had to say no because I’m only one person.”
Brooks is inspired by culture, artwork and architecture and allows that to shine in her cakes. She said that about 75 percent of clients give her complete artistic freedom with a design idea, which she turns into detailed research.
“Because I’m under the radar right now, everything is word of mouth,” said Brooks, who has a Facebook and Instagram account where she showcases her cakes. “Business is always busy but it picks up between September to Christmastime, consistent with 5-7 cakes a week which is about 21-25 cakes a month.”
While she would love to compete in outside competitions, Brooks just doesn’t have time. She does however, take every opportunity to donate and participate in charity and fundraising events.
“I was commissioned to do a six-foot Prosecco bottle for the New York Food and Wine Festival at the Javits Center last year, and recently did the Women’s Sports Foundation, which is a huge fundraiser for all of the female Olympians,” said Brooks, who set up a cake pop display. “I also made a replica cake for Nassau University Medical Center. Ornamental detailing is my specialty, but I do find beauty in making traditional style, clean wedding cakes.”
As for her support system, Brooks has a big one. A round up of family members—she even had her mother in an apron when she first started her business—friends, and her fiancée Colette.
“My family is more supportive now than ever, my friends help with deliveries and Colette helps manage my emails when I let her,” said Brooks. “You better believe I’m making my own wedding cake next October—I’m thinking 10 tiers.”
A cake by Brooks starts at around $300 and increases depending on size and amount of detail. She treats every creation as if it were a cake for her family and never takes the easy way out.
“It’s personal working with me because it’s a one-on-one experience. I’m very passionate,” she said.
In January, Brooks is relocating to a larger warehouse and will be sharing it with a fellow baker who specializes in gluten-free, organic and vegan foods.
“Now that the word is out there enough, I feel like it’s the next step I have to take business wise. I have so many ideas that I’m just trying to take on more,” she said. “Not having to say no anymore is what I’m most excited about.”