Executive Pastry Chef Oscar Bonelli Discusses the Art of the Wedding Cake
Oscar Bonelli, executive pastry chef at The Omni Homestead Resort, was born and raised in Northern Italy. His culinary roots stem from a deep family history of family-owned pastry shops. He believes cooking “is not just cooking. It is an art… it is emotion.”
Since his time in America and at The Omni Homestead Resort, which puts on close to 40 weddings a year, he has perfected the American wedding cake. We recently sat down with Oscar to discuss the art of the wedding cake and all that goes into creating the most sought after part of a wedding.
Q: What is the difference between a European wedding cake and an American wedding cake?
A: I have been making wedding cakes for as long as I can remember, but since I grew up in Italy, I have come to realize there is a big difference in how Europeans do wedding cakes and how Americans do them. Europeans are more focused on the taste of the cake, not so much the look. American brides have a particular style and look they want to achieve. Sometimes I propose that we make a cake purely for show, and then make a second cake that we actually serve to the guests. That way, it is a better show and also a better taste.
Q: How important is it to you to understand the bride’s vision for her cake?
A: First, I want to see what the bride is looking for. Most of the time they have colors in mind or they have a specific design in mind. It is very important to me to give wedding cakes a sense of taste and balance… balance of the tiers. Too much decoration and you will lose the essence of the cake. We want to please the bride, so we do our best to match her vision but also make sure the overall presentation is balanced.
Q: During the cake baking process, what is the most important key to making it a success?
A: Aside from making sure the size of the tiers are balanced, it is also important to make sure the layers are even. A little more custard here or there, can make the cake slide to one side. Also, the decoration has to be elegant. I believe that a cake should have movement and look alive. For example, if a cake has a flower on it, I want the petals and the opening of the flower to look natural and realistic.
A: Our most requested cake flavors are vanilla sponge, red velvet and raspberry jam. Our resort also serves a Tropicana cake with a special tropical flavor, passion fruit curd and coconut frosting. It is very popular with guests.
Q: What are some wedding cake trends you have seen lately?
A: I see trends with color. Two years ago, it was purple, last year it was green and this year peach is popular. I like to incorporate touches of color on cakes. You never want to have a cake that is all purple or all green. It still needs to look elegant.
Q: Have you ever received an unusual wedding cake request?
A: A month ago, we had a cake tasting where the bride came to pick the flavor and frosting of her cake. She asked for a hazelnut sponge cake, but requested that it be nut-free because some guests were allergic to nuts. There are moments where you have to say it cannot be done.
Q: What has your experience been like at The Omni Homestead Resort?
A: Not all hotels and resorts have a dedicated pastry chef, so it has been exciting getting the team up to speed. The Omni Homestead Resort is a beautiful location for a wedding, and I am happy my cakes get to be a part of them.