Welcome to Foodwhirl’s very first Interview! As long as I’ve been blogging about food, both here at Foodwhirl and at my personal blog, Dabbled, I’ve been running across some incredibly decorated cakes. And one name that kept appearing every time I’d look for interesting cakes to feature, was Debbie Goard of Debbie Does Cakes! Debbie is a San Francisco based cake designer who’s cake designs are just incredibly well crafted, with inspiring interesting and bizarre subject matter. I asked Debbie if she’d like to share a little with Foodwhirl’s readers, and she graciously agreed.. So read on to find out more about how she got her start, her methods, and her favorite cakes!
Foodwhirl: First off, just tell us a little about yourself… Who are you, where are you from, and how long have you been a cake diva?
Debbie Goard: Ha ha, cake diva… has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it =)? I’m Debbie Goard, originally from North Carolina, now a Northern Californian . Finally after nearly 10 years here I have become acclimated to the weather.I live just outside of San Francisco, in Oakland. I have been working professionally with cakes for about 21 years now.
FW: How did you get into creating these very creative cakes, rather than just traditional cakes?
DG: I had of course, worked with traditional cakes for many years but was always experimenting with sculpted cakes, learning new techniques, etc… I have burned out o cake many times and I actually quit for a couple of years. It wasn’t until I moved here that I considered getting back into cake. I was once told that once you learn these skills they could take you anywhere, so when I moved and needed a job, cakes were a natural option.
I worked in San Francisco at an erotic bakery (yes!) for 5 years before striking out on my own as Debbie Does Cakes. I knew my focus would be on sculpted cakes exclusively because I wanted to set myself apart .
FW: Can you describe a little about your process for creating a cake?
DG: I often remark how it takes me all week long before I actually touch cake. My job is all about creating the design concept, researching and gathering reference materials and much to my dismay, there’s much more math involved than I ever knew.
FW: Do you always use the same materials, or does it vary by subject?
DG: I work with a variety of materials, depending on the cake . I use buttercream, covered in fondant exclusively now because it gives me the ability to make cakes that can withstand long delivery trips. In addition I also will use, according to the particular needs of the design, gumpaste, modeling chocolate, pastillage, poured sugar, and chocolate.
FW: How long does it take?
DG: My average cake decorating time is 4-5 hours , but with much more complex designs I have taken as long as 57 hours to construct a design.
FW: What’s the oddest cake request you’ve ever gotten?
DG: That’s a really tough question since my business is known as the go to place for odd designs. I’ve crafted dead rats, severed heads, zombie hands, mythological beasts, etc… judging by the feedback I have gotten, though, the general public seems to be most fascinated by the giant uterus cake I made for a group of gynecologists.
FW: Those DO sound bizarre! Do you have a favorite cake you have created?
DG: Also a tough question……I have a few that I really love. I adore the Andy Warhol banana I did because it reminds me of my past ambitions to be a fine artist, but I also love the chihuahua cakes because I am in love with my Chihuahua.
FW: I know it’s hard to choose, but do you have one you consider to be your best work?
DG: I’m also fond of my food cakes , and technically speaking, I think my Durian cake was pretty nice. I really thought it was a nice presentation.
FW: Wow! That’s cake? Amazing! So, what’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you as a result of Debbie Does Cakes?
DG: I have been extremely fortunate to be featured in magazines, newspapers and on television, including Food Network “Challenge” . I think one of the most exciting things to have happened to me was my very first magazine feature in BARK magazine. I was so surprised and honored to be recognized for my work so early in my business.
FW: Do you have a staff of assistants, like on those cake shows on TV?
DG: I wish! ha ha, no it’s just me wearing all the hats most days, but I do have occasional delivery help and engineering direction.
FW: Do you eat cake yourself now, or are you sick of it? What’s your favorite flavor?
DG: I will occasionally eat cake, I prefer the flavors I don’t make as often, like a carrot/ spice or a red velvet with cream cheese. I also will make a pina colada cake on special occasions.
FW: So, what if I want a Debbie cake? Do I have to be local to San Francisco?
DG: I’m afraid so. I do deliver throughout Northern California and have been known to fly with a cake but it’s very intimidating to fly with a fragile and heavy cake. I know there are some places that will ship cakes but I don’t think my nerves could handle that kind of stress. I’m already a nervous wreck on delivery days!
Darn, I wish I lived in San Fran! Thanks so much to Debbie for sharing a little about herself, and her process with us here at Foodwhirl. We hope we (mostly Debbie, of course!) have inspired you to try something new, when it comes to cake!
- Debbie’s blog
- See Debbie’s Cakes on Flickr
- Debbie Does Cakes Website
- Cakes Pictured: 1. Chris’ fave things cake, 2. Crush from Nemo cake, 3. durian/ fruits cake
4. 1962 jaguar cake, 5. anatomical hearts cupcakes, 6. carnival foods cake
7. decapitated head cake, 8. ham cake, 9. cooked t bone steak cake
10. bruce the shark w/ sombrero cake, 11, R2D2 cake, 12. giant uterus cake
Debbie’s cakes have been seen on Foodwhirl here.