Sunday, November 21, 2010


     Merriam-Webster defines 'legendary' as:  leg·end·ary  adj \ˈle-jən-ˌder-ē, -ˌde-rē\
                 1: of, relating to, or characteristic of legend or a legend
                 2: well-known, famous
     How does this relate to my cake world, you ask? I believe definition 2 above applies in this case. I had my most recent brush with fame this past Tuesday! With whom? None other than Walter Cole, better known to the City of Roses as Darcelle XV. A native of the area, he's been a pivotal figure in the gay and lesbian community here for 43 years. His cabaret club, Darcelle XV Showplace, has been a destination event location for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, and  nightly drag shows. Darcelle herself performs 4 nights a week, with a wonderful cast to entertain the masses.

     Wait a minute! You said 43 years??? Just how old IS Darcelle? Well...she just turned 80!! And doesn't look it a bit! This grande dame of the Rose City deserved a birthday bash  that was to be one of THE social events of the year (with 400 or so of her family, friends, and adoring public, I was to find out the night of the party!)

     Luckily for me, I am friends with Darcelle's "heir apparent", Kevin Cook aka Poison Waters. A powerhouse in her own right, she's very well-known, respected, and much-loved in many circles of Portland. I was chatting with her one day, and found out about the birthday plans. Kevin told me about the idea of the evening...10-top tables all round the room, each with a dessert as the centerpiece. GREAT idea, I thought! Kevin and accomplices were looking for bakeries and others to donate the desserts, and I jumped at the opportunity!

    Now, the party was not only a celebration of the legendary lady herself, but a benefit fundraiser for Camp Starlight, which helps children whose lives have been affected in any number of ways by HIV. The week-long camp on the Oregon coast is full of activities, cameraderie, laughter, and more for these children. An AMAZING thing, to be sure. So what was I to DO for this event?

    I'm not a close personal friend of Darcelle's, nor have I had any involvement in Camp Starlight. So I had to do some research. What does she like? What does she LOVE? And what things are important to include with a design to honor the work of Camp?

    I have friends who have visited Darcelle's home, where she has a special kitchen table. This table is hand-painted with the landmarks of places all over the world that she and her partner Roxy have visited over the years. BINGO! I got pictures of the table, and was determined to re-create her artwork as part of the cake. Red roses also play a big role in so much of Portland's culture, and are dear to her heart, so that was a given, too. GREAT! Design ideas came into being...

    But what about Camp? How does that work into her birthday? Only indirectly, as best I could figure, so I had to design a second cake! Children playing, being creative, and the Camp logo...check!

   One huge event, two lowly home baker...WHAT WAS I THINKING???

    Paying it forward, a birthday gift from the heart, that's the ticket!

    So I put my creativity into overdrive and started working on the decorations. Each new piece became my favorite of the project!

Seeing ideas come to life is one of the best parts of creating cakes for special occasions, in my humble opinion.


 The last two days before the event, the baking done, the icing made, and all decorations lined up and ready to make a cake worthy of such an awesome night...I can do this! Ibuprofen, caffeine, and lots of love and support from family and friends, I pressed on. We ran very short of time, and I was a blur as I put the finishing touches together.

      We get to the venue, a little late. Good news was, the birthday girl hadn't arrived yet, and people were milling about during the cocktail hour prelude to the night's festivities. WHEW! Eyes followed us as we carried the cakes to, through, and out of the kitchen, to the tables. I did not know beforehand, but my cake was the one chosen to sit at Darcelle's table. <GULP!> I was very honored, and humbled by this. Here I am, a home baker with no bakery of my own, with desserts from very well-known businesses around the room, and my work is center stage! How lucky am I???

     Darcelle was thrilled with her cake, both the cakes. And the guests from Camp Starlight were delighted as well. A couple of the fondant figures even went home with party-goers LOL That made me smile.

      And here they are...with a few flaws from hurrying (lessons WELL learned this time!). But people started snapping pictures and commenting immediately, so I knew I'd done my job. A job I'm very proud of.

     A great night, a legend celebrated, and there's still icing in my fridge, and fondant leaves at my workstation...

     Onwards to the next!!! Under the sea, and a little Turkey Day fun! More blogging next week!

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