“I grew up in Mexico, playing in the kitchen with my mom and my grandmother,” says Amirah Kassem, as she adds yet another layer of buttercream frosting to a cake that looks like a 3-foot-tall ice-cream cone. “Little did I know that all that would wind up being relevant in the fashion industry. Oh, and I still get to go to all the parties!”
As a matter of fact, after founding Flour Shop, Kassem has gone from hanging out at the parties to whipping up its centerpieces. Following a six-year stint working as a stylist, Kassem found herself at the center of a vibrant, inspiring world unsatisfied. “It didn’t feel like artistic work I could call my own,” she says. So, she reached back into her youth to find something she could grab on to. “I stick to things that make me smile, whether it's food, friends, jokes, balloons, surprises, fireworks, and ice cream,” she says, with a grin on her face. “They all come from a pure place. I mean, it’s okay to grow and learn, but there’s no need to stop liking the things you've enjoyed all along.”
“It doesn’t matter if you went to school for the career you want. If you're passionate about it, you’ll learn.”
Kassem cites Disney cartoons as one of her prime inspirations.
Kassem's work has quickly become the toast of the fashion set. Her giant, frosted (and completely delicious) cakes, which look like cartoon hamburgers, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, and confections in other smile-inducing shapes, have starred at parties and promotions for Terry Richardson, Henry Hargreaves, Warby Parker, Olivia Wilde, Chrissie Miller, Phillip Lim, and dozens of other high-profile clients. “One of my friends describes me as an artist and that cake is my medium. I sculpt cakes, paint them with frosting, and top them off with sprinkles!” It’s absurd, wonderful art that’s all her own — until we get our forks into it, that is.
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When people order a cake, I can't really explain what it will look like, because it doesn’t start to unfold until I start working on it. So, yes, although people know what they ordered, the finished product is only in my imagination. But the more I know about the person receiving the cake, the more detail it gets. That's why my favorite part is seeing people’s reactions to my creations. The way their expressions fill me with joy is why I try to deliver every cake myself!
I don’t use fondant, which is a big challenge when my work is being compared to perfect-looking cakes done by other cake artists. Although fondant may look perfect and can take any shape, it doesn’t taste good. And I like every part of my cakes to be not only edible but enjoyable. I'd rather have streaks and imperfections with buttercream than to see people peeling my cake before eating it.
The name 'cronut' is not my favorite. I like 'doissant' better! I don’t really have a million hours to stand in line, so I haven’t tried it yet, but the idea sounds fun — a combination of two treats into one. Personally, my two favorite treats are popcorn (I smell sweet stuff all day, which naturally makes me crave salty!) and ice cream, so my take would have to be popcorn ice cream. Yum, yum, yum! Just like Donna Martin in 90210!
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Article by Gabriel Bell, Refinery29