Photography by Eric Pietrangolare
Growing up on a farm, Todd Kennedy was raised around nature. But it was when he took his love for flowers and fused it with his love of baking that he found an artistry that would bring him to New York and set him in a class apart from other cake designers.
“I was allowed to tap into different sources of creativity, whether it was drawing, painting or music,” he explains. “I went to school for music and I played the oboe. I also had a strong love for cooking and I was always pretty good at that and baking.”
By his senior year of college studying oboe performance, after spending eight hours a day practicing, he became burned out. “I decided I no longer wanted to do that. I didn’t want to be in a symphony like I had originally planned. I had been baking at home and loving it, so I went into a restaurant and started to work from the bottom up cooking and baking. That led me to a catering company where I was a pastry chef for nine years.”
It was there that an opportunity presented itself for him to become the catering company’s cake designer and with that, he began doing wedding cakes.
“At that point, it was just basic icing and buttercream. I didn’t know anything about what the trends in cake design were. Because of the impact of nature on my childhood, when I would create the sugar flowers, I had a really good concept of what they should look like. I was just doing what I thought looked real.”
Those realistic sugar flowers led to even more opportunities. When he came to New York, he asked two companies if they were interested in having someone to do sugar work and after both companies offered him jobs, he took the one that allowed him to phase out of his work in Indiana and then move to the city.
“I didn’t know my work would be that well received,” he said. “I’m a completely self-taught designer.”
Kennedy says what inspires him the most about the wedding cake process is the reaction of the couple. “It’s about doing your best work and putting your passion into it,” he says. Something else he’s passionate about is not worrying about having to conform to any preconceived idea of a modern wedding cake designer.
“I’ve always been told to dress a certain way, to not post certain things on social media, and that I have to be within a box. I’ve been told if I’m going to be a wedding cake designer for a luxury cake, I have to wear a suit and a bowtie and be quirky. When it comes to my sugar work, you see elegant flowers and clean lines and one might think the designer behind that is elegant and soft. But I’m much different. I’m tired of the ‘have to be’s.’ I’m an artist first and foremost. I’m not a stamp of other people. I’m not the stereotype. I want to be who I am.”
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