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Tiers of Joy

  |   By Judith Manzano

{Some of Charlie's beautiful creations.}

It’s not a secret that one of my biggest passions in life is art in every form. So when it came to our wedding cake, it was only natural for me to want to design it. I had the craziest idea that I would make our wedding cake until Mark got concerned that I may be biting off more than I can chew. I tried to argue but when he said to let Charlie take care of it, I was sold on the idea.

Chef Charlie V., owner and head chef of Charlee’s Restaurant, is a close friend of ours for many years with Mark having gone to school with him since high school. We love his food and you can often find us dining and hanging out at his restaurant. What sold me on the idea of Charlie making our cake was the thought of just how much I LOVE his cupcakes! He makes the meanest, the moistest base and pairs it with a light, fluffy and not-too-sweet icing. Not only is he a whiz with food, he’s also hard working, easy to get along with and an all-together good guy.

Unfortunately, Mark couldn’t make our appointment, so, equipped with ideas from our conversation the night before, my daughter and I met with Charlie at his restaurant one evening. Sitting down with Charlie and answering some of his questions proved to be such a difficult task. When he asked, “What is one thing that sums up your relationship with Mark” I couldn’t give him just one answer. Why? Our relationship can’t be symbolized by one thing because there isn’t just the one thing. For some couples it’s a sport, others it’s a place or team or animal but for us—it’s everything. Mark and I are complete opposites in so many ways that we enjoy different things and live really separate lives during the week. This duality made it really difficult for Charlie and I to come up with a concept. It also didn’t help that my answers were very ‘yin and yang.’ We wanted simple and traditional or completely off the wall and unique. We didn’t want feminine looking patterns, yet we wanted some form of abstract decorations. We wanted elegant yet fun. As frustrating as it was to use these things as inspiration to design a cake, this is exactly who we are.

After a long brainstorming session, Charlie came up with a great design that got me very excited. The concept will be “our journey” and will mix traditional shaped tiers with pops of fun and abstraction. So put simply it’ll be half-traditional, simple and subdued and half wild, crazy and fun loving. I love it! It completely captures who we are. As for what it will taste like, we decided to go with vanilla cake and fresh berries. We are so excited to see what he’s going to come up with!

The food at Charlee’s Restaurant, nestled in the heart of Elmwood, can be described as classic, contemporary, comfort food. So what’s next for this awesome Chef? He may open up another restaurant having either a more formal, elegant feel or he could go down the route of ethnic fusion. Who knows, he may just follow his passion for patisseries and open up a store filled with sweet confections. Whatever he does, we’re sure to follow because when Charlie is in the kitchen, you are guaranteed to leave full and satisfied and you can expect to be craving his next creation mid-week.

What inspired your wedding cake? Is there one thing that absolutely speaks of the two of you?

Thank goodness Mark changed my mind because my first attempt at a cake started off as a disaster complete with cellulite looking icing but I was still able to salvage it. It ended up looking great—Godson LOVED it—and it actually tasted quite yummy. But it was stressful—Mark was right! Good call Bey!

This article was originally published on May 18, 2010

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