While attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, Jacinta Yu found her true passion for cakes from one small decorating course and one year later Complete Deelite was born! Learn all about her cake journey and how she made her very own wedding cake!
Brief history of your business and how you got to where you are today?
From a very young age, I always have been fascinated by the arts, fashion, cake and baking. I was also inspired by my mom's love of bringing people together, and would always look forward to helping out in making my birthday cakes. Little did I know - one day I would be creating my very own wedding cake.
After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, I started my career in the fashion industry. Living in New York, I was inspired by all the bakeshops & specialty markets. Fashion aside, I dreamt of one day being involved with cakes and celebrations.
My first introduction to cake decorating was when I took the Wilton Master class (2003). It was my first time ever touching a piping bag, rolling fondant and making buttercream. Those two weeks changed my life. I did not have the slightest clue how to decorate a cake on the first day. When I completed the class I knew I still had a lot to experience, but I also knew I had found my true passion and that I wanted to decorate cakes for the rest of my life. Over the years I developed my own style in hand sculpted cakes, figurines and airbrushing. Since Complete Deelite’s inception in 2004, my vision has always been to educate, decorate and celebrate.
How were you first introduced to Satin Ice?
My first encounter with Satin Ice was complete fate and I remember clearly it was in 2009. I was planning to make my very own wedding cake and it was a destination wedding so I was in planning mode. I was looking to see the fastest way I could get fondant/gum paste, if I suddenly needed it at my wedding in Hawaii. I saw the Satin Ice website and all the fabulous tutorials with Elisa Strauss and Anne Heap. The fondant on the cakes looked so amazing to work with, and I knew it was something I wanted to introduce to Hong Kong, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I emailed Kevin O'Reilly (CEO and Founder) and met up with him at Union Square in NYC - and the rest is history.
Is there one project that stands out as significant or that you are particularly proud of?
My very own wedding cake that I spent a good year planning. It literally took a good 9 months to make all the flowers and fillers, pack, and send it all over to the location. Packing and unpacking the flowers was a huge task within itself. But at the beginning, I had a vision and I knew that it would be incredible - if I could do it myself.
There were thousands of flowers on the cake. As I look back at the entire experience, I am still in total disbelief that I was able to do it. The cake was 9 tiers! I didn’t have my team with me - let alone my very own decorating room or delivery guy.
I taught my bridesmaids how to wrap floral tape on all the flower wires and went over step by step with my friends on how to deliver and stack the cake. It was a total faith walk - and let me tell you - my buddies were so nervous when they were stacking the cake. But when the cake was all done and in the venue it was truly one of the most unforgettable cake moments ever!!!! I've been married 5 years now and my friends and family still talk about the cake. All the love, care and effort that everyone put into it - made it so unforgettable!
Fluid, effortless and animated. I love trying to express feeling through my cakes. I am always inspired by textures and colors.
Most challenging cake to date?
I remember this experience like it was yesterday. It was 2006 and I was commissioned to do an exact replica of the late Costa Concordia Ship.
I only had two years experience in my business and it was a HUGE challenge. The only people working in my company back then were myself and another assistant. I had to get really creative with my little set of skills. The biggest challenge was the delivery of the cake. I completely forgot to measure the elevator door width and I found out the cake board was TOO big when we were carrying the cake out of the shop! It was horrific and so stressful! We ended up walking the entire cake down 6 flights of stairs! The cake made it in one piece but it was a HUGE lesson! Always measure, measure and measure!
What tips can you offer to Satin Ice newcomers?
Continue to love to learn, inspire and share cake art because it's a hobby that is alive and constantly changing.
If you weren't decorating cakes, what would you be doing?
Window display art or a painter.
What is a 'regular' cake decorating day like for you?
Complete Deelite is a hub of everything cake: it’s a school, retail shop and we do specialty cakes. I am involved in all aspects of my business. I have meetings with class coordinators to discuss our upcoming classes; I also enjoy creating new cake designs for new class ideas. Throughout the week I have meetings with my decorating team on upcoming cake orders. I am also very hands on with our website and e- marketing team. I love being involved in it all!
What is your creative process for making cakes?
I like to capture the person or couples personality in the cake. I love bringing a cake to life whether it is with color, texture or with the cake toppers. I guess in a sense bringing a cake to life.
What is your favorite part about making/decorating cakes?
I always have a story or motion picture going through my mind as I decorate. I love imagining what the celebrant's reaction will be like when they see the cake. But as a mom my favorite part is being able to decorate cakes for my children. Nothing beats seeing their faces light up - it’s the best feeling.
Who or what is inspiring you at this very moment?
Natural outdoor textures and fellow Satin Ice Artist of Excellence Mercedes Strachwsky inspire me.
Firstly this goes without saying. She (Mercedes) is insanely talented, the queen of fondant and has magic fingers. If you see her cakes in person, you know exactly what I’m talking about. She is my friend and my cake mentor. I also had the privilege to spend time with her and her family to learn she is humble, inspirational and there should be more people like her in this world!
What are the big trends you are seeing right now in cakes?
I see fondant going places artistically like no one has ever seen. Clean and simple is beautiful, but I see the trend going beyond the clean and simple. I see fondant being manipulated in ways where people cannot believe it’s even fondant.
If you could create a cake for anyone in history (past or present): Who would it be and why?
This is a great question and to narrow it down to only one is truly impossible. But if I must, I would have to say Coco Chanel.
Do you consider yourself as a cake trendsetter? If so, how and why?
I’m more of a cake arts ambassador. I love cake decorating and love to inspire people to love this art form and develop their skills. I love being a part of peoples cake journey.
What do you aspire to accomplish with each one of your cakes?
Unforgettable memories for families and events.
What is the next "big thing" for you?
The next “big thing’ - oh boy - my entire cake decorating career has been such and exciting roller coaster. I honestly have to pinch myself sometimes. Being a Satin Ice Artist of Excellence was certainly one of those “pinch me” moments. In the future, I definitely want to do more teaching. Perhaps the next big thing will be revealed at the 2017 Americas Cake and Sugarcraft Fair!
Name: Jacinta Yu
Location: Hong Kong
Education: FIT & Wilton School of Cake Decorating Master Course
Business name: Complete Deelite
Facebook: Complete Deelite
Cake philosophy: May your love for cake always humble, teach and inspire you to live life by faith and not by sight!