Graphics & Textures
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For Little Ones
When most of the tots his age were making messes in the sandbox, pastry genius Ron Ben-Israel preferred to observe his Viennese mother’s culinary magic as she whipped egg whites into frothy meringue or transformed flaky crust into ethereal apple strudel. “I was enchanted,” he gushes. “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.”
Passion, indeed. Ron is fervent when he talks about baking and creating his extraordinary confections. His dedication to his art is both reverent and joyful at once: Each time he fashions a cake—and he’s designed thousands of stunning, one-of-a-kind gateaux in his career—he’s as thrilled as he would be if it were his first masterpiece. As Ron cheerily observes, “Each cake is like a performance—my team and I feel like we are attending countless opening nights every weekend.”
Ron certainly knows about opening nights: A former dancer, he fell in love with a chocolate-maker while on tour in Canada, and with typical resolve, he traded in his ballet slippers for a whisk and a spatula. Fortunately, the discipline he had acquired during years of scrupulous training and a rigorous performance schedule—and during his military service in the Israeli army—helped him as he pursued his new vocation. Like many aspiring chefs, he traveled to France and apprenticed in Cannes, Beaujolais, and Lyons.
Ultimately, New York provided Ron with the most exhilarating and challenging stage for his culinary visions. His artistry has become legendary and he has truly become America’s cake maestro, the wizard and darling of the industry. “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.”
And so today, the master confectioner choreographs in sugar. His specialty and wedding creations are consistently featured in national periodicals, including Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides Magazine and New York Magazine and are also prominently highlighted in books, such as Vera Wang on Weddings. Curtain up!”
Ron Ben-Israel Cakes is one of the finest couture cake studios of our times, known for innovative and impeccable creations. Founded by Ron Ben-Israel in 1999, the company’s flagship design studio and bakery called Manhattan’s fashionable SoHo neighborhood home for over 15 years. At the end of 2014, the bakery and studio relocated to a new, expansive location with over 4,500 square feet in the heart of Manhattan’s Garment District.
The collections of trendsetting cakes have been featured in countless books, TV shows, films and publications and can also be spotted in many of New York’s premiere hotels and venues. The bakery received additional acclaim in 2011, when Ron became host and judge of the Food Networks’ hit show Sweet Genius, which after three seasons was syndicated around the world.
This journey has allowed the company to position itself as a leader within the industry and to partner with and promote charities such as City Harvest. Ron and his team also enjoy sharing their expertise and techniques through demonstrations and classes and will have additional opportunities to spread their knowledge with redesigned classes hosted in the company’s new facility.
The upcoming seasons hold many exciting ventures for Ron Ben-Israel Cakes.
Giving back to the community is a vital, integral part of Ron’s DNA. He is quick to honor those who have helped him along the way—people like Martha Stewart, who encouraged him as he came up through the ranks. His mentor of all things sugar is Betty Van Norstrand; his baking prophetess,
Rose Levy Beranbaum. Ron feels just as compelled to help others and to return to the universe what it has so bountifully brought to him.
He is a committed member of the Food Council of City Harvest, honored to be a member of this prestigious group of chefs and restaurateurs. City Harvest collects more than 28 million pounds of excess food from countless food-industry sources and distributes it—free of charge—to nearly 600 community agencies, which in turn, help feed over a quarter-million hungry New Yorkers each week.
Ron actively participates in the organization’s fund-raising events such as Bid Against Hunger, an annual, sold-out culinary extravaganza, and Generation Harvest’s Summer in the City. Additionally, he encourages clients who might want a cake that is really too grand for their actual number of guests, to allow a donation—in their names—of the additional cake to City Harvest, a fulfilling way to share the happiness of an occasion with those less fortunate.
Ron is also active in LAMBDA Legal’s Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., which fights for full civil rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to marry. Ron looks forward to the day that all people will be able to embrace their full rights under the law.
Almost as much as Ron loves baking, he thrives on teaching. He spends over 30 days a year wearing his professor toque. He is the only Guest Master Pastry Chef at the renowned International Culinary Center in New York City (founded as the French Culinary Institute), where he contributed to the creation of the Cake Techniques & Design program and works with students in the Professional Pastry Arts program. Ron also leads workshops and master classes and participates in industry events around the world.
Ron is cut of that rare cloth—the industry professional who takes pride in sharing his secrets; who delights in watching non-professionals master the basics; and who enjoys mentoring dedicated students, helping to mold their talent. He strives to introduce new ideas to his classes, to instruct students to think creatively when they are problem-solving, and to encourage them to develop a style that is distinctly their own.
Ron’s company maintains an internship program and he and his staff mentor up to 12 interns a year. Aspiring participants who wish to apply to this intense, full-time, non-paying program must be current or recent graduates of an accredited pastry-arts program. To be considered, they must submit samples of their work along with recommendations from a chef-instructor. Interns can expect to work a minimum of three months; they will follow a classic kitchen rotation, which includes stints in baking, decorating, cleaning, and above all, practicing, which Ron says is the basis of all else. He notes that students will leave with a solid knowledge of baking, structuring cakes, and fashioning sugar flowers and confectionery decoration.
Ron also travels to different locations in the US and abroad to teach master-classes and intensive seminars and will soon offer classes at his own studio and bakery in New York City.
Since all of our cakes are custom-made to individual specifications, no catalog per se is available. Our Web site is designed to give an introduction to our style and services. We continually evolve and as we do, we introduce new, seasonal designs which are available for your review at our showroom and are frequently showcased in magazines. Additionally, we are constantly updating our Facebook page and there you will also find pictures of a wide selection of our cakes.
It’s impossible to offer a hard-and-fast price list, since each cake incorporates so many variables. We take into account the number of servings, the complexity of diverse design elements, and particulars important to the celebrants. Sometimes a smaller cake may take longer to create than a larger one, and therefore, it will be priced higher per slice (the basis for pricing used by most bakeries). Our cakes are generally baked in incremental serving sizes of twenty-five, but we always try to present several possible variations and propose a few price tiers from which to select. Our minimum order is $800. Pricing for wedding cakes begins at $16 per person. Novelty and sculpted cakes usually start at $1,500.
We do not like to rush clients into making hasty decisions and we encourage research. However, we cannot guarantee prices and availability before a contract is signed. Most couples book our services six months to a year before their event. We have been known, however, to stay up all night to complete last-minute orders.
We find that standard carriers cannot guarantee the safe transport of our cakes. The best method to deliver our cakes is by cold vans, and this service is available from New York City to most points on the East Coast. Long distance delivery is both extremely complicated and very costly. While we have flown our cakes to distant destinations, it is a highly complex process to engineer the delivery via a private or chartered plane. Additionally, most designs require the presence of a staff member who must assemble the cake on-site.
Unfortunately, we can’t supply this information, as we need to devote our resources to meet the demands of our clients. The building and decorating techniques we use took a long time to develop and require special skills and tools. Therefore, we cannot assume the liability of providing long-distance support to third parties.
We do offer learning opportunities when Ron teaches workshops and seminars around the country, and your baker may wish to attend these classes.
We do not sell our edible flowers or sugar decorations separately from our completed cakes. Our sugar embellishments are very time-consuming to make and too fragile to ship on their own.
We provide delectable, kosher, pareve cakes for large celebrations. They are baked under the rabbinical supervision of OK Laboratories. The recipes we use for these cakes would also satisfy the dietary needs of individuals requiring non-dairy, lactose-free cakes. We’ve also developed a line of delicious gluten-free cakes. We do not, however, make vegan, egg-, or sugar-free cakes. We do suggest, however, that if you have dietary constraints, that you consider selecting a smaller cake that meets those needs, and then order a larger cake with a more traditional recipe for the rest of your guests.
We love to accommodate other confectionery artists and enjoy meeting professional chefs from around the world. However, because of time constraints and deadlines, we usually cannot have visitors while we are creating our cakes. We are, however, always on the lookout for talented individuals to join our team. We accept resumes from potential employees (artistic and creative backgrounds are preferred) with previous experience in the culinary field.
Ron is a Guest Master Pastry Chef-Instructor at New York City’s renowned International Culinary Center (founded as the French Culinary Institute). He teaches the fine points of his cake art to the career students of both the Professional Pastry Arts program as well as the specialized Cake Techniques & Design course.
Ron also offers a limited number of master classes at different locations around the US and abroad, which are listed on our Facebook page.
We try to accommodate everyone’s schedule, but most appointments are made during business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; consultations and tastings last about an hour. In the busy season (April through June and September through October), we need to concentrate on completing orders and, therefore, during that time frame, sessions are scheduled from Monday to Thursday. Unfortunately, because we are almost always in production or on location on weekends, we are rarely able to schedule a tasting for the weekend.
The groom’s cake grew out of an old tradition that is very much in vogue again. These cakes are often playful and depict an interesting or amusing side of the groom’s personality. Additionally, for a large wedding, the groom’s cake provides secondary flavor combinations. This very personal cake can be presented to the groom as a surprise by his bride, and it can be the perfect counterpoint to the “main” cake. Keep in mind that on occasion the groom’s cake might end up being more complicated to execute than the main cake. Moreover, the smaller scale cannot accommodate every idea.
Not every cake that appears in a magazine is ideal for a real-life celebration. Just as in couture fashion shows, silhouettes are often presented on the runway (in our case, in the press) to illustrate trends, new styles, and fresh ideas. Not every design will scale up or down with success, and some structures require a different minimum number of servings. As always, we’ll do our creative best to present you with a few options and choices.
Simply put, we don’t like to name-drop. We treat all of our clients as if they are the most important people in the world when we design and execute their cakes. We respect our clients’ privacy, but we would gladly pass along your story to a publication or a TV show, if you were interested.
We very much enjoy creating all kinds of special-occasion cakes. It’s a great pleasure to be part of our clients’ celebrations throughout the years, whether for anniversaries, birthdays and births, or bar/bat mitzvoth. Not surprisingly, we think cake is the perfect accompaniment to all life’s celebrations…and we hope you do, too.
While we enjoy eating them we do not provide them! We would be happy to recommend one of our colleagues to you.
Ron and his staff look forward to serving you and helping you setup an appointment to experience Ron Ben-Israel Cakes.
One hour tasting and design sessions are scheduled Monday through Friday, during normal business hours. Because weekends are devoted to delivering and setting up cakes on location, we regret that we cannot secure visits to the bakery on Saturdays and Sundays.
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