Yesterday I had the honor of being the Sugar Artist on Spotlight by Loren Ebert of The Baking Sheet. Loren is the face behind The Baking Sheet. She specializes in cookies, but have now moved into cake decorating as well. I have had the honor and opportunity to call her my friend and to have worked with her in a few collaborations.
It was truly an honor to be featured as a Sugar Artist Spotlight by her.
Here is my interview with Loren Ebert of The Baking Sheet.
Sugar Artist Spotlight: Veena Pamela Azmanov!
Veena is a legend in the Facebook Cake world. Known for her giving spirit, she selflessly shares cake recipes, decorating tips, tricks and techniques on a daily basis. Her page has become quite a popular resources for cake decorators around the world! Veena is as talented as she is generous. I'm so excited to learn all about her! Everyone, please welcome Veena into the Sugar Artist Spotlight!
Name: Veena Azmanov
Business Name: Veena’s Art of Cakes
Facebook name: https://www.facebook.com/veenaazmanov
Tell me about yourself
I was born in Mumbai, India but I’ve lived most of my adult life overseas. I married my wonderful husband Ziv and we relocated from the US to Israel about 9 years ago. We have two beautiful kids, our son Aadi is seven and our daughter Rhea is five.
My last job was traveling and working for Singapore Airlines as a flight attendant for 10 years. These were the best years of my life. I traveled a lot. Also, I did my advanced studies, which are my second degree in marketing and an MBA, with the hope of becoming a marketing executive. And, most important, I met my husband. Hence, the best years of my life.
Tell me about your cake business
Cooking and baking have been my hobby since a kid. I loved trying and creating new recipes including cakes. My friends always left me in charge of desserts and cakes. So making cakes was not new. I made my son a buttercream fire-truck and a cake for his birthdays too.
However, I made my first fondant decorated cake with cute baby booties for my daughters first birthday in 2009 and fell in love with cake decorating.
I think I fell in love with fondant. I started looking for opportunities to make cakes for family and friends. I’d watch cake decorating videos on you tube during my spare time. In July 2011, I decided that this is truly my passion and this is what I wanted to do, as a profession every day for the rest of my life.
So, the first thing I did was register my business, tell a few friends and continue practicing. I was lucky that I did get orders which gave me more opportunities to practice and improve on my skills.
Where do you create?
I live in a small three bed room apartment with a tiny little kitchen. So yes space is not my luxury but all the goodies come out of this little warm kitchen and it always smells heavenly. I do dream that someday I will own a cake Boutique and Dessert shop.
Is there a story behind the name of your business/ How did you come up with your business name?
For most people cake is cake but to me what we do is not cake.. Its art. At the time I tried the name ‘Art of cake’ and the domain was taken so I personalized it to Veena’s Art of Cakes.
Where did you learn the art of cake decorating?
The beginning was tough. When I realized I wanted to take up cake decorating at a profession I had not formal training at all and no money to invest as well. I never really learned cake decorating from any course or class. And I didn’t have many option to learn cake decorating here in Israel. YouTube was my only source.
So I can say I started Self-taught in the beginning. Everything was trial and error. I’ve learned a lot from my own mistakes.
Eventually I starting investing some of my cake money back into my business and started investing in online classes and tutorials that have got me to where I am today. I have till date never physically been in any cake decorating class. Veena’s Art of Cakes was started in July 2011 and three years later I feel nothing but pride for my accomplishments.
Do you have a signature style?
Honestly I don’t know yet! I love making elegant and simple cakes. Also, I love sugar flowers. So, you will see me adding them whenever possible. In addition, I like some types of novelty cakes as well as figure modeling. And yet, I am more drawn towards wedding and the vintage style cakes. The simpler the cake, the happier I am.
I believe that less is more so unless my kids are involved in the cake decorating you will never find any of my cakes crowded with too much to see.
What is your favorite medium or technique to work with?
I like fondant and I love modelling chocolate. Modelling Chocolate is not a luxury for me in summer so you will get me using it only in winter. I love sugar flower very much and would love someday to spend more time on refining my sugar flower skills.
What is your favorite decorating tool?
I must say it is the Dresden tool. In fact, I call it my little finger. I use it to vein my flowers as well as to pick and tuck things in place when decorating. And, I think it’s a very versatile tool. So, I actually get upset when I find myself having to search for it.
What decorating tool is on your wish list?
Ah where do I start? The list never ends really. I love new cake toys. But if I must pick I’d love to have a Dinkydoodle airbrush and a pasta roller for my gum paste flowers.
What is the best class or tutorial that you have taken?
As a person who does not have many opportunities to attend cake classes physically; on line classes and schools have been a true blessing. But recently I attended a private class on figure modeling with a lovely lady Elena Atash of WonderCake. It was such a wonderful experience. Nothing beats the in class learning experience.
I’ve also been a member of Paul Bradford Online School and learned so much. A perfect place for any beginner.
Some of the best online classes I have taken so far are the ones on Craftsy. For example, the Sugar flower classes by Nicholas Lodge and Alan Dunn are my favorite and the cake Classes by Collette Peters and Maggi Austin. I have always admired their work and was truly happy to have them on line.
Who is your “Cake Crush”?
Wow. So difficult to pick a few when you have so many.
Well I must say I truly admire Dawn Butler for her airbrush skills and Karen Porteleo’s sculpting ability. Fingers crossed I will have an opportunity to learn from them some day.
I also love Rob Ben Israel and Peggy Porschen for their sugar flowers. And, I am very inspired by Mercedes Stachwsky, and truly love the clean and elegant cakes from artist such as Rosalind Miller, Zoe Clark and Maggie Austin.
What is your best advice for a beginner?
Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to start over. You can take a lot of classes and spend hours watching online videos but practice is the best way to learn. Whenever possible practice a new technique or cake on a dummy if you can before you do it on a real cake.
What is your favorite cake/filling flavors?
Oh there are so many and they honestly change with my mood and the seasons. But If I had to pick one, I’d have to say – Rich Coconut Cake with Coconut cream buttercream.
5 quirky or crazy facts about you
I come across as a very confident person. But, in reality I am very shy and reserved. I am very scared of cockroaches and lizards.
Also, I day dream a lot yes even now (was worst as a kid).
Thank you Loren ! Appreciate you taking the time to interview me and humbled in the least.
Thank you for reading.