The Baking Architect
Some who can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. But for architects Carolina Montoya and husband Fernando Puga, leaving the corporate drafting table for a hot kitchen was the perfect career move.
“Before the economic turmoil five years ago, we were successful architects working at a top firm in Miami,” said Carolina, who created architectural models for the Icon Brickell and Jade Beach. “We never imagined we would both be out of work at the same time. Sadly, it happened in 2009. However, we kept the faith! I knew I could use my architectural knowledge and experience and apply it to other industries.”
After a day of watching her favorite shows on The Food Network, an idea dawned on Carolina. “Why not fuse my architectural background with my culinary skills and create captivating, edible pieces? It was a simple equation: change the materials, such as acrylic and plastic, for sugar and chocolate and, voila, we created edible scale models,” she said.
Together, Carolina and Fernando planned the next chapter of their lives: Unique Designer’s Cake. “Baking with my husband is wonderful! We make a great team and support each other tremendously,” she said.
Recipe Starts on the Virtual Drafting Table
It all begins with architecture. Fernando uses AutoCAD and Photoshop software to sketch and create the “blueprints” of the cake. He handles all the baking and then passes the baton to Carolina who takes care of the decorating. The couple’s home-baked business skyrocketed to instant success – with a surprise that felt uncannily serendipitous.
“I was surprised when The Food Network called me to be on their television show ‘Sugar Dome,’” recalled Carolina. “The producers received well over 12,000 entries for every show. However, in my case, we hadn’t even applied! They had heard rave reviews about my cakes and wanted to know if I had what it takes to be on the show.”
Carolina submitted a three-minute video about herself and Unique Designer’s Cake. Within two days, she received a call back with an invitation to appear on the show. “This was the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life,” said Carolina. “I attribute this to a little bit of luck. Luck! I was so blessed to be on the show.”
Born to Bake – and Design
In Colombia as a child, Carolina practically grew up in the kitchen, watching her mother bake. “Mom was most well-known for her signature carrot cakes, which she baked from home, and I loved to help her!” said a reminiscent Carolina. “I vividly remember this time in my life because my mom baked to sustain our family. I think this experience impacted me because I thought of her often when we were going through our own economic trials and tribulations.”
Whether in the kitchen or at the drafting table, Carolina has continuously felt a passion for designing. “I remember tearing my mother’s curtains to create drapes for my scale models. I always had it in me!” said Carolina.
Carolina and Fernando have built some amazingly sweet architectural masterpieces – such as the Villa Vecchia Miami Beach Mansion on Pine Tree Drive. The replica was created to exact scale and was completely edible.
“What I love about baking is making people happy with our creations,” said Carolina, who refuses to mass-produce cakes and insists on making them one-by-one, with the freshest gourmet products available. “We love walking into a room to deliver a Unique Designer’s Cake and watching everyone’s faces light up. We believe that a cake is an important part of every celebration, but most importantly, we believe that a Unique Designer’s Cake completes every celebration.”
Indeed it does. Carolina and Fernando designed the stunning celebration cake for South Florida Opulence magazine’s 2013 Mega Yacht Gala on Fisher Island in April. “Our inspiration for this cake came from taking Edwina Sandys’ exquisite painting on the latest cover of South Florida Opulence and combining it with Romero Britto’s portrait of Ava Roosevelt, giving it a unique, artistic twist. We topped the cake with the magazine’s signature O, which gave it a harmonic, architectural composition,” explained Carolina. “We have a funny anecdote to share with you! Our cake for the Gala included a replica of a cigar box that was beautiful and full of details. Before the event was over, we realized that someone loved the cigar box so much, that it actually disappeared from our cake! That was really funny!”
What’s the special recipe for a Unique Designer’s Cake? Carolina offers her secret ingredients, “Include a cup of dedication, a tablespoon of passion and a whole lot of Love!!”
If you’d like to experience “happiness in a bite,” go to www.designerscake.com, call 786-351-4276 or visit the Unique Designer’s Cake studio at 69 NW 9th Street, Miami.