Our Very Own Cake Boss
Have you ever seen the show Cake Boss? Well, right here in Philly, we’ve got our own kitchen turning out inventive cakes — and we think they rival anything you might see on TV.
Fredrick Ortega has been pastry chef at Lacroix for eight years now. With the help of his pastry sous chef, Lisa Huang, he’s been whisking up cakes that fulfill the imaginative whims of Philly’s brides and birthday boys and girls (and grown men and women).
Ortega’s made some bizarre cakes, including dinosaurs and people’s pets, handbags and stacks of shoe boxes – and a doctor even asked for a cake made of body parts. While Ortega and Huang are both extremely skilled, he says that technology has made the process much easier: “We can make almost anything these days. There are silicone molds, silk screens, and other things that make different shapes and images possible.” He says it can take up to four days to bake a more elaborate cake —and some of them take nearly two weeks to decorate. One of the first spectacular pastries Ortega made at Lacroix was nine feet tall. It had 11 layers, and pillars that were molded with plaster of Paris.
So next time you’re watching Food Network, remember that we’ve got our own pastry wizards just around the block. “In a lot of kitchen jobs you don’t get to see the customer,” Ortega says. “We develop our cakes with the customer. It’s great to see their faces when we finally finish.”