Our Favorite NYC Party Cake Makers
There’s everyday dessert, and then there’s the grand finale. These are our go-to pastry people for those times when you need the latter. Whether you’re looking for a fancy Instagram cake favored by the fashion set, or something a little more homestyle that you realistically couldn’t pull off in your own home kitchen, we’ve got you covered. Choose your fighter and save us a slice.
Mina Park trained on the West Coast at Tartine and Mei Lin’s Nightshade before she moved to New York in October 2020, where she launched her pop-up bakery 99. Inspired by the cream cakes traditionally encountered in Asian bakeries, 99's creations are less saccharine and surprisingly light, pairing whipped mousse and pureed fillings with seasonal fresh fruits. She has also thrown cake pop ups at Rhodora and Leo, including a collaboration with Ha’s Dac Biet at the latter.
Known conventionally by her Instagram handle @YungKombucha420, Aimee France is a self-taught baker who specializes in small-batch, seasonally focused, custom cakes. The towering, one-of-a-kind cakes she creates from her Bushwick apartment often combine whimsical piping with unexpected produce and foraged flora for a fantastically imperfect look, and more often than not, are completely vegan.
Chef and artist Jen Monroe is the creative force behind Bad Taste, a fantastical project exploring consumption habits and food’s transportive capabilities through immersive culinary experiences. Her eye-popping tiered cakes are unafraid to traffic in kitsch, but consistently deliver on both flavor and appearance, whether it’s incorporating vibrant, technicolor buttercreams, iridescent pulled sugar ornament, or jiggly neon jellies.
Since 2013, Ayako Kurokawa has helmed the tiny glass-enclosed studio turned pastry shop tucked in the back of the lobby of 68 Jay Street. Kurokawa trained in several New York restaurant kitchens, most notably The Modern, before starting to sell cakes on her own, garnering a reputable fashion clientele including Cartier and Anna Wintour. Her rotating menu of expertly executed and incredibly Instagrammable sweets includes a selection of minimalist Japanese cream cakes and pastries alongside traditional European viennoiserie and cookies.
Caroline Schiff entered the New York restaurant scene a decade ago at The Good Fork, working in a number of acclaimed restaurants and bakeries before reuniting with Chef Sohui Kim at Gage & Tollner. As the executive pastry chef of one of Brooklyn’s most storied eateries, she’s created a menu that thoughtfully dips into the restaurant’s archives, while still feeling fresh - tangy chevre enlivens her version of a New York cheesecake, while her light-as-air, eleven layer coconut cake is adorned with candied kumquats and pink peppercorn cashew brittle.
Chef Daniel Skurnick worked on the sweet and savory sides of some of Manhattan’s most celebrated kitchens - Gramercy Tavern, Bouley, Jean Georges, Buddakan, and Morimoto - before opening Le Coucou in Soho as the executive pastry chef. He launched his own microbakery, Foxbread, at the height of the pandemic, offering elegant takes on classic French sweets, like Paris brest with hazelnut praline crème légère, Mont blanc with chesnut crème, and a rich gluten-free gâteau au chocolate with coffee cremeux.
Lucie Franc de Ferriere’s cozy bakery in the East Village offers a rotating menu of seasonal cakes decorated with flowers, whose stems would otherwise be too short for a florist’s use. Her flavor combinations and rustic style - olive oil cake with lemon and thyme curd, or earl grey cake with lavender buttercream, to name just a couple - are inspired by memories of growing up in Bordeaux, where she assisted her mother in baking treats for guests of the B&B they ran on the family vineyard.
Food artist Sam Raye Hoecherl breathes new life into vintage American cake aesthetics, taking visual cues from a range of sources including 1970’s cookbooks, new age horoscopes, and classic stoner culture. Festooned with old school grocery store-inspired buttercream piping and marzipan florals, her eye-popping cakes are the perfect finish for anyone who doesn’t take their birthday celebration too seriously.
Marlow & Sons pastry chef Lauren Schofield previously worked in noted Manhattan kitchens including Flora Bar and King, where she developed a keen eye for elevating rustic European desserts, including massive tartes tatin, boozy babas au rhum, and cloud-like pavlovas. Her cakes are flavorful but restrained in their decoration, relying mostly on jewel-like currants, berries, and other fresh fruit as well as star-shaped piping for ornament.
Chef Eunji Lee worked in the two Michelin-starred kitchen of Jungsik before opening her own gallery-like patisserie, Lysée, in 2022. The name is a play on the French musée, a sort of sweet museum with pastries sorted into different collections. Lee’s stunning cakes and confections blend the flavors and traditions of Korea, France, and New York - her signature Lysée combines toasted brown rice mousse with caramel, pecan sablé and praline, while the V.I.C. (Very Important Chocolate Cake) introduced chocolate cremeux and sponge cake to Timut pepper caramel and dark chocolate mousse.
If Castelfranco radicchio on a cake is wrong, then Natasha Pickowicz doesn’t want to be right. The former pastry chef of lauded restaurants including Flora Bar and Altro Paradiso and bonafide bake sale activist has won over the hearts and stomachs of industry insiders and laypeople alike with her organic approach to cakes, often decorated with a signature palette of eye-catching seasonal produce, candied fruits, and florals. In April 2023, Natasha released her first cookbook, More Than Cake, a collection of 100 recipes built for pleasure and community.
Designer-turned-baker Paris Starn has amassed a cult-like Instagram following for her dreamy, towering desserts and naturally leavened viennoiserie, often plated in a manner evoking the enticing arrangements in Baroque still life paintings. She draws inspiration from her grandmothers - a deftly skilled home cook and an antiques dealer - blending an appreciation for traditions both visual and culinary into her one-of-a-kind creations.
Named after the Mende word for “home,” a nod to the owner’s Sierra Leonean heritage, Pelah Kitchen is a Bed Stuy-based microbakery by Jenneh Kaikai, who also runs Hot Bread Kitchen’s small business programs. Her spice-forward cakes are frosted with lush buttercreams and decorated with locally-sourced flowers - the warm and aromatic cardamom-spiced carrot cake is a perennial favorite, finished with salted caramel and brown butter cream cheese frosting.
Marrying the cherished flavor memories of his childhood with unexpected ingredients, Red Gate Bakery founder Greg Rales offers inventive celebration cakes that are at once familiar and exciting. Fans of sweet and salty combos may be drawn to the bagel cake, marbled vanilla and chocolate layers finished with brown butter cream cheese frosting and a hearty coating of everything spices, but don’t sleep on the custom seasonal combos - past creations include a black tea cake with bourbon peach jam filling, purple sweet potato casserole cake with toasted marshmallow meringue, and a cherry vanilla cake with orange blossom diplomat cream.
Mission Chinese alumna Dria Atencio, also known as Salty Lunch Lady, has garnered a following for her nostalgic pastry boxes and homestyle layer cakes, blending kitschy mid-century aesthetics with zingy seasonal flavors - think orange-scented olive oil cake with cranberry curd and toasted pumpkin pie spiced meringue for Thanksgiving, or a springy pink cake with yuzu curd, strawberry frosting, and strawberry yuzu preserves. This spring she’ll open Salty Lunch Lady’s Luncheonette in Ridgewood, where you’ll be able to enjoy her sweets alongside a modern menu of lunch counter favorites, as well as occasional evening supper club events.
Pastry chef Jena Derman and mixologist Jack Schramm teamed up to create Solid Wiggles, a Brooklyn-based studio dishing up artistic jello cakes and artisanal jellies. Some of their slightly boozy creations riff on classic cocktails - the cosmo-inspired Cosmos cake swirls sweet milky jelly galaxies and acid-adjusted orange juice jelly into a cranberry-lemon jelly base, while the Negroni Sblagliato cake mixes prosecco, vermouth, campari and orange into a rainbow floral affair. Others riff on the flavors of small batch spirits, like the Dreamboat, which pairs Faccia Brutto red bitter aperitivo with orange and lime. Most of their signature cakes and jellies can be made sans alcohol, if you’d like.
Food designer Suea draws on her background in fashion, as well as a love of Korean craftsmanship, furniture, and product design to cook thoughtful but not overly serious meals that inspire conversation. She launched Suea’s Cake Service during the height of the pandemic as a means to share her playful creations in a safer manner. Her cakes combine traditional piping with custom designs, including stencil work, digital sugar paper drinks, and hand-drawn airbrush work done in collaboration with Trung Nguyen.
Textile and print designer turned full-time baker Amy Yip has created her signature “rock” cakes since 2019, interpreting the colors and textures traditionally encountered in geology and natural landscapes through the lens of pastry. Both carved and mossy versions often incorporate a range of Asian flavors like black sesame and red bean or matcha and passionfruit. For something a bit more traditional, Yip also offers cylindrical tiered cakes with flower accents.