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Cake Cathedral is a one-woman operation that helps wedding dreams come true

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Editor's note: Cake Cathedral owner Jenny Perello and Staff Writer Shwetha Sundarrajan are roommates.

Cake Cathedral owner Jenny Perello puts countless hours into the cakes that take center stage at weddings up and down the Central Coast, ensuring that they're a beautifully decorated feast for both the eyes and the tastebuds.

Formerly a SkyWest Airlines flight attendant, Perello wanted to try her hand at baking cakes so she began taking classes at Michaels for fun, which eventually turned into a part-time side hustle.

"[I] started easing my way into doing cakes, and because I had to practice and practice and practice, I was taking cakes to the airport and making my poor flight crews and the ground crews eat lots of my mistakes," Perello said, chuckling.

As she began receiving more and more orders, it was time for Cake Cathedral to finally take off. She founded her cottage operation in 2012 and still remembers the first cake she made for one of her coworkers' weddings.

CAKE DREAMS Thanks to Cake Cathedral, Janelle Isaak was able to get the cake of her dreams for her April 2, 2022, wedding. - PHOTO COURTESY OF JANELLE ISAAK
  • Photo Courtesy Of Janelle Isaak
  • CAKE DREAMS Thanks to Cake Cathedral, Janelle Isaak was able to get the cake of her dreams for her April 2, 2022, wedding.

"I made them what I thought was a really beautiful cake," Perello said with a laugh. "And I look back now, and I'm sort of horrified when I look at the pictures and I think, 'Oh dear God.'"

In the early years of Cake Cathedral's existence, Perello honed her craft by doing photoshoots to practice different cake decorating techniques. She explained that creating a cake design for a photoshoot allowed her to try her hand at underused decorating techniques such as rice paper sails, gelatin ruffles, and wafer paper flowers.

As her skills sharpened, her business grew.

As a young adult, Perello moved to Japan, where she learned oil painting, Japanese floral design, and Japanese charcoal drawing techniques. Using that artistic background, Perello draws inspiration from a variety of sources, like fabrics, florals, and even the clients themselves when designing her cakes.

"When I first started Cake Cathedral, I used to have dreams, like these color dreams," Perello said. "But I would just see colors and I would see textures and different forms and they didn't necessarily create anything in my mind, but it was just something that I was really drawn to."

Perello's artistry comes in handy when catering to whatever wedding trend is in season, from pastels to burlap and lace. In 2023, people are leaning away from soft pastels and are turning to bolder colors, Perello said.

"One of my favorite things to do is do a black cake and bring out the intensity of the colors through the use of florals, either real flowers or handmade flowers, which I love to do," Perello said.

Floral patterns were quite prominent in the wedding cake Janelle Isaak commissioned from Cake Cathedral. In an email to New Times, Isaak said that she wanted a cake that was classic and timeless with a "wow" factor. Perello delivered a six-tiered white cake adorned with edible flowers that Perello painstakingly created by hand.

FLOUR POWER Perello's training in Japanese floral design helped her hand craft each stem, leaf, and flower placed on the cake. - COURTESY PHOTO BY KELLY WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Courtesy Photo By Kelly Williams Photography
  • FLOUR POWER Perello's training in Japanese floral design helped her hand craft each stem, leaf, and flower placed on the cake.

"Working with Jenny, you can tell she is so passionate about what she does. She made us the wedding cake of our dreams and I cannot thank her enough," Isaak wrote.

Not only does Perello bake, assemble, and decorate these cakes, she also hand delivers them to events. While a majority of her deliveries are within SLO and Santa Barbara counties, Perello said that she's driven all the way to San Francisco or Los Angeles to deliver a cake.

"I'm just really careful when I deliver, and I'll deliver multiple cakes on the same day. Just stack them up in the back and have the air conditioning full blast," Perello said.

From June to October, business really peaks for Perello, who said that she delivered cakes to 70 to 80 weddings during that time last year. Weddings are stressful for both parties involved, and while Perello understands that, the best clients are ones who trust her with free creative rein.

"One thing that really bothers me is, you know, when I put the price tag on the cake, people will say, but it's just cake. It's like no, it's actually edible art," Perello said, adding that she works with clients to make sure that their dream cake fits within their budget.

That due diligence has earned Perello some devoted customers, such as wedding planner Amanda Holder. After seven years of working with Perello, Holder was finally able to commission her own wedding cake from Cake Cathedral. In a phone conversation with the New Times, Holder said that she wanted a statement cake, which would make people exclaim, "Oh my God!"

"She's one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. Aside from all of that, she's really creative and inventive; she can do something traditional but also wild and over the top," Holder said. "Whatever you have in mind, she'll bring it to life!"

Despite professionally baking for more than a decade, Perello has no plans of expanding beyond her existing cottage-licensed workspace at home.

"I used to watch Ace of Cakes and all these different shows and thought, 'Oh, God, that'd be kind of fun,' you know? To have this big bakery and all these people working and you know, that dynamic, but it's also probably a really big headache to have that," Perello said.

"So, even though I'll never become rich doing what I do, keeping it small, I just enjoy it." Δ

Reach Staff Writer Shwetha Sundarrajan at [email protected].

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