Sublime Cake Design Delivers Yumminess
● By Kerri Regan
Piece of CakeMarch 2015
By Kerri Regan
Photos: Kara Stewart
Duff Goldman's "Ace of Cakes" television show inspired Redding reggae and punk rock musician Wiley Saccheri to trade his drumsticks for a spatula. “They’re all musicians and just have fun and they’re artists and they paint,” Saccheri says. “It wasn’t just a cake decorating thing. It was an artistic medium.”
Never did the self-taught cake artist imagine, however, that he would end up in Goldman’s bakery on national television, competing for the coveted “golden whisk” on the Food Network series premiere of “Duff Till Dawn.”
Saccheri, the co-owner of Sublime Cake Design in Redding, answered an open casting call for the show. “I always try to sign up for stuff like that,” says Saccheri, who won his company’s custom-wrapped Nissan cargo van in a contest by creating a funny video about how tough it is to deliver cakes in cars.
On Jan. 29, Charm City Cakes West in Los Angeles became an aft erhours battleground for two teams of cake decorators who worked overnight to create the coolest, creepiest cake to fit the “Monster Mayhem” theme. The cake needed to include a damsel (or dude) in distress, and a few hours into the challenge, Goldman threw in another twist — the damsel (or dude) needed to fight back.
Assisted by Sublime co-owner Jackie New (his mother-in-law), Saccheri built a metal frame and used cake and buttercream frosting to sculpt “Oculus,” a gory, green monster who had pulled out his own eyeballs and was holding them triumphantly over his head. A network of plastic tubing formed nerve endings and veins that snaked back down to the eye sockets.
Rather than a damsel, Saccheri opted to create a “dudesel” in distress - Duff Goldman himself. “He’s a creature that has ripped his own eyeballs out so he could properly see his victim before destroying him,” the Foothill High School graduate explained on the show. “The Duffsel in distress is riding him and stabbing him with a spear.”
Saccheri and New were faced with an unexpected challenge when their monster’s arm began to fall apart. “It’s a hot frickin’ mess, bro,” Saccheri said, as he and New attempted to patch it with white chocolate ganache. When that was unsuccessful, their competitor, Kelly Zubal, gave them some wire to put the arm back together.
Th e Sublime team earned rave reviews for its Cloud 9 cake, which includes caramel, white chocolate and buttercream. “It tastes like breakfast — it’s really good,” Goldman said.
Ultimately, Zubal walked away with the prize for her fondant-wrapped apple monster who was being terrorized by a damsel wielding an apple peeler. But Saccheri was thrilled by the praise heaped upon him by Goldman. He used buttercream frosting, which poses a bigger challenge than the more forgiving fondant that is a mainstay for most other decorators. “Duff said he’d only seen it twice. (The kitchen) was kind of a fondant factory — they literally had to go out and buy us stuff ,” Saccheri says. “Buttercream takes a long time and it’s very fragile, and those hot
lights are beaming down on you.”
The risk didn’t go unrecognized. “You did things with buttercream I couldn’t even dream of doing,” Goldman told him. “It’s really cool when you watch somebody who’s really good at what they do, do it.”
Saccheri got his start in this profession when the cake decorator left the bakery where he worked. “I jumped in there and started teaching myself,” Saccheri says. “Sometimes you stumble over those passions you never knew you had. I feel like cake decorating found me.” Th is was Saccheri’s second foray into the world of televised cake contests — he and New were assistants to Redding’s Roland and Marsha Winbeckler on “Ultimate Cake Off.”
Sublime Cake Design started in a tiny shop on Bechelli Lane, and moved to Park Marina Drive a couple of years ago. Saccheri’s wife and high school sweetheart, Tiffanie, is their customer service expert, and one of their closest friends bakes everything. Saccheri himself decorates every one of the bakery’s “highly customized” cakes, and customers gobble up hundreds of their cupcakes each week. Although they’re growing steadily, "we want to keep it small batches,” he says. “It’s our thing to make everything by hand and we want to keep it that way. I like the small vibe we have here.”
The toughest cakes are those that look like actual people and those that require structural support. “Believe it or not, there’s a lot of carpentry involved,” he says. “Even simple things like a car, it’s tricky to get a cake to sit on four wheels.” His favorite projects are “guy cakes” and “the crazy monster gory stuff - zombies and stuff like that,” he says - in fact, the cake he made for his own Halloween-themed wedding featured gravestones, arms stretching out of the ground and blood gushing over the sides.
They’ve done cakes for weddings, birthdays, graduations, baby gender reveals, office parties — even one divorce. He’s made submarines, army vehicles, iPhones and more. The Saccheris gave “Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus a cake of his likeness at Comic Con, and Reedus opted to put a photo of the cake on the cover of his book.
And although Saccheri has done so many “Frozen”-themed cakes that he no longer needs to print out pictures of the characters as a reference, it never gets old, he says. “Every time I do it, I think of the person on the other side of the cake who’s going to be so stoked, it’s going to brighten their day,” he says.