Ron Ben-Israel dishes on his career, weddings and tomorrow's Park Meadows appearance
If you don't know who Ron Ben-Israel is, then we're going to make the wild guess that you aren't getting married anytime soon. Or didn't get married anytime in the recent past. Or don't follow celebrity weddings at all. Or never watch Wedding Central, the cable television network devoted to all weddings, all the time, 24/7.
Brian Dorsey Studio, NYC
At any rate: Ron Ben-Israel designs wedding cakes for the rich and famous. He was discovered by Martha Stewart. And tomorrow, he'll be at Park Meadows Shopping Center, 8401 Park Meadows Center Drive in Lone Tree, to host a demonstration on how brides-to-be can create their own celebrity wedding (without spending celebrity dollars).
The presentation starts with a "mocktail" hour, sponsored by SoBe, at noon, followed by Ben-Israel's presentation from 1 to 2 p.m.; he'll answer questions after the presentation.
We recently caught up with Ben-Israel to ask him about how he started designing wedding cakes, what the wedding industry is really like and what he imagines his own wedding cake will be when that happy day arrives:
Westword: How did you get started in the wedding industry?
Ron Ben-Israel: I never made this decision! That's the thing. I had, like a cat with nine lives, I've had so many different careers and tried so many different things. For years, I survived as an artist on grants and touring as a dancer with dance companies, and I was living underground like so many artists, hand-to-mouth and so forth. And I never had the power to make decisions. And I crossed the threshold of forty and needed to rely on other resources to make a living, because I wasn't making enough as a dancer. So I relied on my art training and started doing, among other things, working for caterers and working with a friend who would do store windows. I would always bake and could always rely on that. There was a combination of my visual and baking skills, where the store designer who was doing the windows came over to me, the Mikimoto Japanese pearl company on Fifth Avenue across from Tiffany's, and he said, "Why don't you do two display cakes for the window?" And people told us instead of stopping for pearls, crowds would gather around the windows and look at the cakes and ask who did the cakes.
And one day Martha Stewart stopped by, walking down Fifth Avenue, and she asked about me and called me in person and said she was starting a wedding magazine and would I like to be a part of it. I thought it was a joke, but she invited me for breakfast and gave me an assignment to create two cakes for that. And I was in! But I'll tell you, I also changed as a person. For years I struggled with rejection and then I found out it wasn't affecting me so much anymore, so I could audition for each client without taking it so personally. I just wanted to keep experimenting, and I had no business plan, so each time I would get a deposit, I would use it to buy cake pans and tools and supplies. It was a very positive time for me because instead of being afraid of rejection, I was able to take private classes and explore more and more. Now it's much more difficult because I have a reputation.