food

In the Atelier With: Jess Pickens, Senior Confectionary Artist at Ron Ben-Israel Cakes

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@jess.pickens-1

RON BEN-ISAREL, pastry chef, owner and executive chef of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in NYC, has been called “the Manolo Blahnik of wedding cakes” by The New York Times. Ben-Israel began his career as a dancer, but hung up his ballet slippers when he fell in love with a chocolate-maker in Canada, trading his dancing shoes for a whisk and a spatula. What followed was a time of travel to France and an apprenticeship in Cannes, Beaujolais, and Lyons.

The pastry chef fondly remembers being enchanted by his Viennese mother’s culinary magic as a child: “Watching a fruit reduction become a gelée was fascinating. But I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that the art and science of baking would become my life’s passion.”

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For four years, Jess Pickens was the Senior Confectionary Artist at Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, and through her Instagram page @jess.pickens, we caught magical glimpses of life behind the scenes at a high-end pastry shop, that is, before she recently left to work at Brooklyn-based Nine Cakes. Here, for nostalgia’s sake, are a few of the things she shared before she left — the MOST delicately-hued SUGAR PASTE flowers, ten-tiered cakes wrapped in layers and layers of painstakingly handmade blossoms and more …

P.S. there are also a few shots by Pickens’ co-workers, @katie_mcdougal@sarah.l.baldwin, and of course, from the Ron-Ben-Israel Cakes Instagram page, @rbicakes

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“Each cake is like a performance—my team and I feel like we are attending countless opening nights every weekend.” –Ron Ben-Israel

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Above, co-worker Sarah Baldwin, the Creative Director at Ron Ben-Isarel Cakes, and the master pastry chef himself, Ron Ben-Isarel

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“I had originally gone to fine art school to study set design, but then dance took over. And now it’s fondant and cake. I am so pleased that the kitchen and I found each other. I’m where I was meant to be.” –Ron Ben-Israel

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@rbicakes-1@rbicakes