I admit it. I am a self proclaimed cake and online junkie. I love nothing more than to spend my free time online, looking at cakes or following trends. For the past few months, I’ve been admiring the work of a very gifted, multi-talented cake artist and all-around pastry guru named Beryl Ann Byrd, owner of Just Fabulous Pastries in San Diego, CA. Unfortunately, after 20+ years in business, Just Fabulous Pastries closed their doors last fall. Luckily, Beryl’s talent and eye for all things beautiful, continues to flourish.
Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
And a SUGR DVA she most certainly is! Beryl’s accolades are quite impressive. She has competed in several Food Network Cake Challenges and she has been featured on Warren Brown’s show, ‘Sugar Rush’. Her cakes have appeared in countless magazine pages, platinum weddings, and all kinds of major events. She was invited to participate in New York City’s ‘Cakewalk’ at Grand Central Station in New York City, along with the country’s top cake decorators. The show featured an impressive number of amazing cakes of varied designs and styles from the ‘who’s who’ of the cake world. She is also an amazing photographer, chronicling her day to day life in an online photo journal on flickr.com. I could go on and on about her talent, but I wouldn’t have enough time or room to fit it all here.
Imagine my delight when Beryl accepted my invitation to visit Maryland for four days of nothing but cake talk and private instruction. She was so generous with her instruction, sharing her personal recipes with me and introducing me to a new, broader understanding of ‘cake styling’ and ‘pastry art’. I was so impressed with her knowledge and skill. “How lucky and I?”, I kept thinking to myself, holding back my cheesy grin so she wouldn’t think I was a complete dork. “She’s right here, in my very own kitchen”, I thought, “and I have her ALL to myself!”.
With great patience and skill, Beryl was an open book, a wealth of information and experience all for my taking. I watched her whip up delectable edibles from scratch with great ease. It is all second nature to her! I was so greatly impressed that it is hard to put into words exactly how I felt! We covered so much in those four days, that I didn’t want her to leave! With any luck, I might just lure her to Maryland somehow and she can teach me some more of those mad skills she possesses. Here are a few samples of Beryl’s beautiful cakes and some pics we took during her four day visit. Believe me when I tell you that these cakes don’t even touch the surface when it comes to showcasing Beryl’s talent and mastery of cake and pastry art. She is quite a dessert designer!
I love the colors on this cake – bold and beautiful, not to mention, perfectly executed. Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
Versace patterns adorn this FABULOUS cake. One of my favorites! Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
A stylish cake for a young fashionista’s Sweet 16 birthday celebration. Everything a young lady could hope for! What’s not to love? Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
Beryl, myself and my friend Sherry. Here we are after we finished learning how to make Beryl’s famous, and VERY GLAM, cookies. What better way to celebrate our success than to toast to the guest of honor, and our beautiful edible masterpieces. Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
I wanted to make sure that Beryl tasted some of our local cake fare while she was here in Maryland. That task would not be complete without a required stop at Georgetown Cupcake, which we both enjoyed very much! I personally recommend the Key Lime and the Chocolate Banana. The Apple Caramel and the Coconut cupcakes didn’t even come close. Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
During Beryl’s visit, I kept my schedule clear, but the phone has a life of it’s own so I found myself having to conduct business throughout her visit regardless. Beryl snuck this photo in which I didn’t see until I visited her flickr page! Here’s what she wrote:
i’m pretty sure that if you look up “renaissance woman” in the dictionary, clara’s picture will be there. she is living proof that there really is a Superwoman.
mom, wife, business owner , creative director, advertising executive, building contractor, tile layer, dry wall guy, antique restorer, bff, thoughtful hostess, travel guide and on and on.
how does she do it, you might ask? how are there enough hours in the day to accomplish all these things. quite simply, she doesn’t sleep. while we mere mortals are snoozing away our 200 odd hours per month, clara is wide awake, working on the next day’s agenda.
personally, i think she would appreciate a bit more sleep but, as any good Superwoman will tell you, you just deal with it. no shortcuts, no compromises.
and that’s my friend Clara in a nutshell. long story short.
Here’s another photograph of me taken by Beryl, this time posing affectionately next to my prized jukebox. I really love what she does with texture and color. This jukebox is one of my most prized possessions. It was a first anniversary gift from my husband. I found this jukebox stashed away under a staircase in the warehouse of a man who repairs rare instruments. He wanted to restore it and keep it for himself even though he already had one. It took me awhile, but I finally convinced him to sell it to me. She was complete with all original parts, but needed much TLC and someone to pay $5K to take her home. I knew from the moment I saw her that we were meant to be together! I set out to learn everything I could about jukeboxes. I then took her apart, screw by screw, photographing each step. Over the next four months , and working on her 12 or more hours a day, 7 days a week, I restored her to all her original glory. She is a fully functioning 1015 Wullitzer Jukebox, commonly referred to as the ‘bubbler’, manufactured in 1946. As I told Beryl, it just goes to show that ‘with a little love, elbow grease and patience, anything is possible.’ Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
Here is Beryl’s pic of herself next to the jukebox. In case you were wondering, no, I don’t have 50’s diner decor in my home. That’s another one of Beryl’s cool photo tricks! Too bad her head doesn’t appear in this picture. The expression on her face when she was posing for this photo was really funny! Photo: Beryl Ann Byrd
Thank you Beryl for four days of great fun, tons of sharing and many laughs. I can’t wait until you’re back in my neck of the woods (hint, hint…no pressure)!