Our Favorite Los Angeles Party Cake Makers
Welcome to the world of Los Angeles' dessert realm, where skilled pastry virtuosos are making a legacy for themselves crafting whimsical dome shaped cakes, rustic hand-shaped pies, and executing exciting flavor combinations. We’ve hand picked a few of our favorites. Dive in fork first!
Catalina Flores previously served as the head pastry chef at Sqirl, where she won fans over for a robust all-day pastry case, including a famous seasonal sourdough scone served with honey and crème fraîche. These days she’s taking her experimental pastry prowess to the next level with Panhead, a roving pop-up where she creates stunning cakes finished with technicolor fruits, puddles of preserves, and the occasional blossom or stem. Besides her layer cakes, she also makes pies, refreshing paletas, and oversized fruit and curd tarts, perfect for the photo finish to dinner at an extra long table.
Longtime LA chef Naomi Shim previously oversaw pastry at local institutions like Coffee Commissary and Salt’s cure before founding Doubting Thomas, an all-day cafe in Historic Filipinotown, where she serves up hyper local dishes showcasing ingredients from small farmers. Her seasonal chiffon cakes are not to be missed: Think jasmine tea spelt cake with roasted nectarine preserves, fig leaf diplomat, and fig leaf Italian meringue buttercream, or buttermilk cake with cara cara caramel, cara cara marmalade, vanilla custard, and peach blossoms. Her vibrant passion fruit pie with McGrath Family Farm fruit is an Instagram darling, but don’t sleep on the almond joy pie.
Food artist and private chef Eliza Mozer recently relocated to Los Angeles after four years in Berlin, where her work straddled the worlds of food and design. Her cakes border on surreal with maximal decoration, including fruits and flowers, both fresh and candied, nuts, puddles of jam, and more. Flavor combinations are layered but not overthought (think almond corn, chocolate olive oil, pumpkin seed and oat), with nuanced fillings and frostings to match (miso caramel, whipped and spiced mascarpone, and sour raspberry chia jam, to name just a few).
Erika Chan previously served as the executive pastry for Paul Kahan’s Publican Collective in Chicago, before moving out to Los Angeles to oversee the dessert program at Rustic Canyon, where she was recognized by Michelin as a 2021 Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year. Her seasonal cakes showcase local ingredients, incorporating playful contrasts in texture and color to boot. An early spring citrus party cake pairs hoja santa sponge with blood orange crème fraîche mousse, cara cara curd, “a kumquat whippy thing, and ample citrus segments, while a midsummer icebox cake marries woodfired malted rye chocolate wafers with ollalieberries and charcoal toasted fluff. Prior to working in restaurants, Chan studied nutritional science and dietetics at Berkeley, which has helped her create exceptional gluten-free and allergy-friendly treats.
A California native, Hannah Ziskin has created desserts for some of the state’s most beloved restaurants, including Cotogna, Chez Panisse, Bar Tartine, and Nopa in San Francisco, as well as M. Georgina in downtown Los Angeles. Her pandemic pop up microbakery, House of Gluten, laid the foundation for the pastry program at Quarter Sheets, the acclaimed Echo Park pizza spot she runs along with her partner, pizzaiolo Aaron Lindell. Regular menu offerings include chiffon cakes with small batch preserves, including a seasonal layered slab and a domed princess cake with marzipan, but she’ll resurrect House of Gluten classics for special orders.
Technically Karla is best known for her pies and frozen treats, but we’d be remiss not to include the chef behind Echo Park’s foremost garage-based popup on a roundup of our favorite celebration sweets. During the pandemic, the opening pastry chef at Here’s Looking at You and founder of bar-with-food concept Chainsaw started to offer offbeat ice creams and nostalgia driven pies for pickup, delivered via a basket lowered gracefully from the second story window. The marquesa icebox pie is a grown up twist on a dessert she enjoyed visiting family in Venezuela as a kid, while the passionfruit lime icebox pie, topped with Salvadoran crema whip, has garnered a cult-like following for its ideal blend of sweet, sour, creamy, and crunchy.
Chef and food stylist Laura Hoang, known also by her internet nickname Largwa, most recently served as chef de cuisine at the beloved Chinatown eatery Pearl River Diner, where her dessert program reimagined cravable classic desserts, alongside a rotating selection of experimental bolo and cookies, all guaranteed to satisfy your favorite stoner friend. Nowadays you can get treats like pandan strawberry shortcake with coconut pudding whip, and her signature tiramisu cheesecake at Snacks by Largwa pop-ups or by special order. In addition to PRD, she has also created sweet treats for Lasita, Buddy’s and Bernadettes in downtown Los Angeles, Kensho in Hollywood, and the LA Phil, to name just a few.
Meadow Ramsey worked in iconic New York kitchens including Craft and Gramercy Tavern before relocating to Los Angeles, where she spent five years overseeing pastry at O-Bar in West Hollywood. She then joined Mark Peel’s famed Campanile, and worked with him on two additional projects, before heading up the pastry kitchen at Sqirl. She is now the pastry chef at Kismet, where she continues to find inspiration in the exceptional produce California has to offer. Meadow’s elegantly decorated celebration cakes are often finished with local fruit and flowers, with swooping cursive lettering offering the perfect vintage touch.
Despite being a self-proclaimed rotisserie chicken enthusiast, Nicole Rucker is best known for her pies, cookies, and all things deliciously sweet. Previously holding the position of pastry chef at the esteemed Gjelina Group (including G.T.A. and Gjusta), she has gained global recognition for her delightfully rustic desserts, and is particularly celebrated for her unique homemade pies, which have garnered her numerous prestigious awards. Hailing from Los Angeles, the renowned chef and author is soon expanding her shop, Fat + Flour, into its own storefront in Culver City.
Rose Wilde is the baker behind Red Bread, a Los Angeles microbakery she’s run alongside kitchen gigs since 2011. She currently oversees pastry program at Eagle Rock’s Capri Club, but has previously worked in the kitchens of Rustic Canyon, Motherwolf, Rossoblu, and Manuela. A penchant for whole grain baking is highlighted in her forthcoming Bread and Roses, in which she waxes poetic about the joys of baking with brown flours and global botanicals. Her cakes skew whimsical in style, including tiered and domed options, finished with thick piping and bright floral decoration.
Currently overseeing pastry at Canyon Coffee in Echo Park, Sasha Piligian previously created desserts for Gjusta and Sqirl, as well as the weekend slabs pie she sold at the underground, matter of factly-named pop-up Side Pie in Altadena. During the pandemic she launched May Bakery out of her home in Glendale, offering a rotating variety of cakes with organic flavors incorporating local and seasonal produce - plum sumac and brown butter, or fig leaf with lemon verbena and peaches, to name just a few in the current lineup.
Thessa most recently oversaw pastry at Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta’s Here’s Looking At You and All Day Baby, where she was recognized among Food & Wine’s best new chefs of 2021. Her diverse lineup of desserts included All Day Baby’s signature pies and paletas, plus serious layer cakes and breakfast treats like cinnamon rolls and conchas. Her cakes are relatively minimal in decoration but decadent in flavor combinations, like banana cake with honeycomb cream and cinnamon buttercream, or a chocolate cake with hazelnut dacquoise, hazelnut buttercream, and Vietnamese coffee jam (familiar to fans of the ABD chocolate cream pie).