Hi cake boys and girls! Well - you asked for her and I got her! That's right - Ms. Ashley Vicos agreed to do a baker's dozen with moi! And I'm happy because I have now interviewed my tri-fecta of cake crushes - Lauren, Sharon and no Ms. Ashley! The timing on this couldn't be better - well at least for our friends in the USA. Ashley's new show, "Have Cake, Will Travel" airs this Sunday on Food Network USA (hopefully FN Canada won't wait forever to air it!).
Morsels By Mark: Congratulations on your new Food Network show, “Have Cake, Will Travel” premiering on Food Network in the US at the end of April! Unfortunately as I've mentioned to you, Food Network here in Canada takes FOREVER to air good cake TV! Thank you so much for taking the time out to do the interview, I can't imagine how hectic your world is right now! I know my readers appreciate it. When I put it out there that I was looking for suggestions on who to interview, you received a lot of the votes! Let's get started, I know my readers are anxious to see what you have to say! Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get started in the industry?
Ashley Vicos: I definitely have one of those cliche stories, but alas, it is the truth.................I got an easybake oven at the age of 5 & started carving my cakes into shapes that young.......By the time I was in middle school & highschool I made all of my own cakes as well as cakes for my girlfriends. I attended an academic college and got an unreleated degree, but made cakes on the side throughout school. By the time I graduated, I knew that all I wanted to do for a living was create amazing cakes; not have a 9-5 job inside a building. I stuck my diploma in a file cabinet and never looked back. Though I am totally self-taught, it is my love and passion and I have no regrets of the road I chose!
MBM: Where do you pull inspiration from for your designs?
AV: Inspiration can come from anywhere!!!! Because I do such custom work for VERY specific people and events my cakes have to reflect that personnel element! So, with my clients, most of my inspiration comes from them and their events. I create cakes that are intended to be a centerpiece & a focal point, so they have to match perfectly as well as be able to draw a crowd with a WOW factor!
MBM: You competed in Food Network Challenges and Ultimate Cake Off. How do you prepare for a challenge and do you get nervous about competing?
AV: Prepare??? what does that mean :)
I don't know if anyone can actually prepare for those challenges............all the preparation in the world could never prepare you for how crazy, intense, & exhausting on every level those challenges actually are. Additionally, those challenges are very expensive to compete in b/c of all of the structure, electric components, & sheer volume of cake. I have never totally practiced any cake I have done on tv, & some of them I have practiced NOTHING on at all...... The most that I have really ever done is practice some of the more difficult elements on a cake. For instance, on my Food Network Shrek cake, I did make 3 donkeys before hand. He is such an iconic character, I wanted to make sure that I had his features nailed!
MBM: You have a new show about to air on FN. How did that come about?
AV: Perseverance! It is something that I have wanted for a loooooong time & I set it as a goal & never let a "no" defeat me. Like in most industries, there is always rejection, always the word no, always people that don't believe in you, etc..... What it comes down to is really how far you are willing to push yourself and stand back up when you fall. At the end of the day it was my dream and no one else's.........so for me it was worth fighting for...........it truly is my passion and other's can feel that too.
MBM: If you were to describe yourself as a cake, what kind would you be and why?
AV: Well, you didn't say flavor; so I am going to go with what style of cake I would be.......I would be a 3D cake larger than life, yet very literal. You could stare at it for hours & keep seeing new things and lots of cool details, but you will never wonder what something is.........there is nothing abstract about me, & if you are guessing or making assumptions, you are thinking way too hard!
MBM: Along with Lauren Kitchens and Sharon Zambito, you are one of my cake crushes. Do you have any cake crushes?
AV: I think that we all have people that leave us in awe......The direction of my career changed when I was introduced to Earlene Moore's work; specifically her 3D grooms cakes......I saw a whole new aspect of the industry &decided that was the direction I was going to go!!! Mike McCarey is the decorator whose work still leaves me speechless even today. He is at the top of the game for me and still inspires me to push my own work further!
MBM: What is your favourite cake flavour?
AV: I don't know if I have a favorite cake flavor.......cake isn't my favorite dessert :) I am a creme brulee or tiramisu kind of girl!!!
MBM: What is the one cake toy you cannot live without?
AV: Going to sound weird, but I have a little tiny black palette knife that I cannot decorate without!!!! Second in line would be my set of miniature gumpaste tools!!
MBM: Do you really decorate in your stilettos? I must say, you are probably the most fashionable cake artist I have ever seen!
AV: I decided looooong ago in my life that I was never going to change who I was in order to fit in or get further in life or my profession. People can love or hate me, my look, my red lipstick, my hair, my cleavage, whatever it is!!!! You can't please everyone and if you try to, you are the one who ends up unhappy. NO, I do not decorate cakes in stilettos.........that's just crazy talk :) Though I do very frequently have to set cakes up or do on location finishing touches wearing them!
MBM: What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
AV: My momma has given me advice my whole life...........& though I rolled my eyes a lot when I was younger, it worked because it has all stuck with me. The one piece of advice that she gave me that has benefitted me in every aspect of my life, business and career is "Always start off like you want to end up!"
I use that advice in every part of my life
MBM: Who would you love to design a cake for?
AV: There are a lot of people that I would like to design a cake for............usually only to be able to meet them in person :) At the moment Enrique Iglesias is on my radar ;)
MBM: What was your favourite competition to do?
AV: I can honestly say that I have been proud of every cake that I have ever done, whether they won or loss............my favorite competition was probably Disney Classic Cakes, where I made the queen from Snow White because it was my first competition & still makes me laugh when I watch it or Ringling Bros because it was my first Big Win!!!
MBM: What advice can you give people reading this?
AV: Follow your passion, no matter what it is & don't let other people hold you down or bring you down!!!!
Life is way too short to live out some else's desire for your life, or work in a job you hate, or have an empty spot in your being that's unfulfilled.......
MBM: Ashley, again, I cannot express how grateful I am that you took the time to do this! Good luck on the new show – I'm sure it will be a smash hit! Hopefully we get it here sooner than later! PS – Do you plan on teaching still? If so, any chance we can get you to come to Canada? Montreal is a gorgeous city, and I'm sure my wife would love to shop with you :)
AV: Yes, I still teach and love to teach. Though I have not been outside the continental usa yet, I have my passport and I'm ready to go as soon as opportunity presents itself because "I Have Cake,& I Will Travel" ;)
That's it for now! Keep the requests coming. Let me know who else you'd like interviewed and I'll do my best to make it happen. We are still waiting on the winner of our Sharon Zambito DVD to contact me with their shipping info. "Sharon" if you're reading this, contact me with your address.
Until Next Time,