Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cake Man Raven: Is cooking becoming a lost art?

Is cooking becoming a lost art?
Food as an Art:

Please note that links have been removed because either they no longer exist or have been moved. Information can easily be searched though.
Do you know of a food artist that you believe has earned the kind of respect that Cake Man Raven has earned? Comment below this post to point them out to us, and they could be our next new featured artist!
Artistry has proven to be our largest passion and focus throughout the lifespan of humankind. From prehistoric cave paintings, to exquisite architectural designs of our current time, these works have been a silent voice of who we are. I have a higher level of disappointment though, that food artists are not more recognized for their amazing abilities to create beautiful, edible works of art all their own.
Food art, such as cakes that are sculpted, shaped, piped, molded, etched, and painted, can be even more eye catching than the average recognized art works at times. They are truly amazing and yet after a few hours of display, they disappear into us as we eat them and the creator disappears from memory with our indulgence.
Many food artists continue to be referred to as chefs, but that still does not show their true capacity for artistry in the truest sense. Their creations are devoured and forgotten, unless of course a photo captures the memory of it.
Raven Patrick De'Sean Dennis, III, also known as Cake man Raven is one of these food artists I have described. While Raven is well known for his exquisite cake designs and ice sculptures in the celebrity world, I still wonder if his name will remain embedded in time as his service fades away in our memories and his artworks are consumed.
The web reference above is an Internet link to photos of an exceptional cake which was created by Raven for the eightieth birthday party of the well-known "Queen of soul food" Sylvia Woods 
Raven Patrick De'Sean Dennis, III, lived in Harlem, New York, with his mother Ruth Murrelle Dennis and his father Raven Dennis Jr. At the age of four, Raven moved south to live with his grandmother who was Ravens most inspirational role model where it came to food creations. Raven would grow flowers and vegetables and make mud pies like those that grandma did in the kitchen. He grew a passion for baking early, and he made his first cake at the age of nine.
Ravens school years at Mt. Pleasant High excelled with a love for pastry arts, where he proudly inherited the name "cake boy". Raven also competed in several cake shows with success in South Carolina. These competitions drove him to a national competition in Kansas City in 1984 and San Francisco Finals in 1985, where he brought home honors as well as a scholarship.
Raven, after graduating high school and maturing to the public given title "Cake man," pursued further education at Johnson & Wales University and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. On the side, he utilized business cards to continue his cake decorating passion and ventures. His business cards read simply, "All occasion cakes".
In 1989, Ravens grandmother passed away. Ravens previous plans to attend graduate school at Cornell University had changed and so he attended Johnson & Wales for his Masters Degree in Education, where he worked as an Admissions Officer and an Undergraduate Advisor of the Lambda XI chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Raven pursued a few other jobs during his college years, but he managed to return to his truest love: the creation of wedding and other special occasion cakes.
All of Ravens experience in the south, with his cake endeavors, allowed him to travel the world over with his beautiful and fancy artistic cake creations. Raven has created masterful artistic cake designs in four countries worldwide and eighteen states within the United States. He has been publicly known for his master cake accomplishments for several celebrities (Lisanti) including: Maya Angelou, Ella Fitzgerald, Muhammad Ali, Danny Glover, Spike Lee, Susan Lucci, Mary J. Blige, Regis Phil bin, Dan Rather, and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. This is just a small list of the many celebrities Raven has served.
Raven has appeared in over twenty-seven magazines, TV and radio broadcasts, newspapers, and publications of wide variety. He has created over fourteen edible replicas, one particular note worthy is the Brooklyn Bridge Cake, which can be viewed with additional photos at 
Streaming videos are available online of Ravens works. One particular video of interest is "A Cake for Kings," and is available for viewing with other interesting Raven video documentaries on the web . This video follows Raven through a masterpiece creation at Columbia Universities 250th anniversary. The end result was an enormous edible replica of The Library of Columbia University. A photo of the massive cake, that was hauled by truckload for the build, can be found within the galleries of magnificent photos that capture Ravens artistic capabilities . The cake was designed with ten specially made columns which held the upper portion of the edible architectural replica up in the front of Ravens masterpiece.
Another amazing and giant cake, all Ravens own, was a wedding cake created for The Women's Entertainment Network. "Cake Man Raven creates Women's Entertainment Network's 12-foot tall wedding cake for launch of next season of Bridezillas in Time Square" . This giant cake was created for a contest where twenty brides to be would dive into the cake, battling for a $50,000 prize for their perfect wedding.
Raven is not limited to his talent with cakes, however. From 1986 to 1988, The Cake Man Raven made it all the way to the Grammies with a similarly given name, "Ice Man". He carved a magnificent ice sculpture in the historical World Trade Center's, Windows on the World.
Accomplishing this goal and dream of having a confectionery was one he shared with his father who suffered heart failure in January 2000. As hard as it was, Raven was determined to make this goal come true just as he and his father dreamed. In the spring following the heart breaking death of his father, Raven purchased property that would soon become "Home to the Harlem Cake Man Raven". At 708 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York, the future confectionery was in extremely bad condition. Raven would prove once again that he would battle the odds and triumph. On July 14, at nine o'clock pm, Ravens dream came open to the public. With the help of several family members working tirelessly around the clock, they serve people seven days a week and for full fourteen hour days. Although the first year was a struggle, the confectionery is not just a bakery but a specialized facility that caters for major events all over the world providing cupcakes, brownies, cookies, pies, pineapple cakes and 9 inch to 12 inch standard red velvet cakes to celebrity cakes. Wedding cakes are in season all year long.
Today, his "Southern Red Velvet Cake" which he serves daily from his full service bakery and confectionery in Brooklyn, has made Ravens mark largest. The recipe for Ravens famous Southern Red Velvet Cake is in the March 2006 edition of Saveur Magazine as well as in other publications (Joyce, Jaime.).
There is so much more information about not only Raven Patrick De'Sean Dennis, III, but hundreds of other artists of this type, who do not get the artistic recognition they deserve. Raven worked hard to accomplish his dreams and his art work is not only breath taking to look at on display, but it is much of the time so extreme that it has the potential to bring awe to all who stop and notice how truly amazing this art is. I personally believe there should be additional work done in order to highlight the accomplishments of food artists across the world and to record their names in history.
Since the initial writing of this article, Cake Man Ravens bakery has closed! Sylvia died at 86!
Do you know of a food artist that you believe has earned the kind of respect that Cake Man Raven has earned? Comment below this post to point them out to us, and they could be our next new featured artist!
Works Cited
"A Cake for Kings" Dir. & Ed.: Ben Hayflick. Prod. Ben Odell. Streaming Video
Alter, Morry. "Extra Special Party On Tap At Sylvia's" (CBS) New York 24 Feb. 2006: .
Emmanuel, Greg and Chase, Lisa. "The Cake Man Cometh To Hollywood" Celebrity Living Magazine May. 2005:
Joyce, Jaime. "Fare" Saveur Magazine Mar. 2006: Special Edition 91.
Lisanti, April. "Cake Man Raven" Philidelphia Daily News Apr. 2006:
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