This week’s “Friendor Friday” is all about our friends at Hands on Sweets, Chef Marie and Chef Carlos! (Be sure to check out their awesome, new website!)
When and how did you decide to become a pastry chef?
I had an early start as I started making brownies and selling them at the age of 11. Always knew that I wanted to become a Pastry Chef but I needed time. After completing my bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Puerto Rico in 2010 that is when I decided to move to Rhode Island and enrolled in the Pastry Arts Program at Johnson and Wales University. Graduated in 2011 and relocated in the Tampa Bay Area. At school is when Carlos and I met and decided we wanted to spend our life’s together. He was enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program. He graduated in 2010.
How did you become “Hands on Sweets?
We became Hands on Sweets after working in various pastry shops and hotel kitchens and found the need the market needed to put out excellent quality, customizable and have a reliable service. We wanted to give the best of our talent and knowledge and make the best cakes in town. H on S was created in 2012 right after our wedding and we took full force on this journey of owning our custom cake shop and sharing our lives.
Who are some of your inspirations?
We are both huge fans of Maggie Austin, Ron Ben Israel as well as various of our Pastry Chef’s that have been not only an inspiration but a huge help in our development as professionals. We are also inspired in fashion and trends that come from Europe, Australia and New England. We are passionate about what we do and we keep it fresh and new this way. We also spend a lot of time testing ideas in the kitchen.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I absolutely love and I am beyond grateful for having the opportunity to create, innovate and think out of the box every single day. I always said I am not studying to stay behind a desk or I will go crazy. I hate routine and this business and career keeps me motivated. Every single day is a challenge and not one cake is the same from the other. Meeting with brides, designing their cake, crafting the cake and even delivering and setting up the cake or dessert table is all a creative process that I absolutely love to make. For Carlos it is a way to also be creative and all of the above but it also provides him with the ability to create new recipes and develop new products. He absolutely loves that part as well as building stands and cake stalking methods.
What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?
I am obsessed with our 20 qt mixer it is the best!!! I am a huge fan of a spatula that I have had since I started when I was 11. If that spatula goes missing one day I might just die. LOL I also own the first mixer that my Grandma owned and that I used always when I baked with her and that is my one and only thing that I adore. It is not only sentimental but it is gorgeous even though it is beat up. It is an antique and I love it!
What is your typical work day like?
We always joke around and say we know the time we go in but we never have a time to leave. Normally we come in at 10 am and the shop is open till 6 but we will stay most of the time till 8-9 at night. We work from Tuesday – Saturday. During the week we make decorations, cut, fill, ice cakes and then we prep all the delivery items we make sure to have logos, cake stands and all the material we need to make it on time and have everything ready. We work intense hours always standing up in the kitchen and long hours meeting with brides as well as many hours designing the cake and sending proposals. In the end, all for a wedding cake. J Deliveries are done by us as we ensure your cake will be perfect and if something were to happen we will be there to fix it. Some people tend to think that it is easy and that it should be cheap since it is flour and eggs but it is much more than that. For us it is a centerpiece a long lasting masterpiece that will be in all the pictures and that will serve your guests.
We love fresh fruits, Madagascar vanilla bean infusions and the Lindth chocolate that is used for our chocolate cake and chocolate ganache. We also love to infuse alcohol into our cakes such as amaretto or baileys.
We specialize in clean, elegant, modern cakes. We are obsessed with gold and silver foiling as it is metallic and super trendy right now, hand painted cakes, naked cakes are big and we are starting to see more and more the geometric cakes that are fresh new spin on a traditional wedding cake. On the other hand there is nothing more pretty that an elegant traditional cake with lace or even very simple and some amazing sugar flowers.
Any common myths about pastry chefs? If so, how much truth is there to them?
Haha there is a saying that says never trust a skinny chef. Well there you go! True based on a real life story! No, not really. I don’t have any myths about pastry chefs.
Favorite hobbies and non-work related things you enjoy doing?
Good question! We are lovers of the beach. We love sailing or even just lay in the sand. We love trying new restaurants and having a good time with friends. We love having friends at home better than going out since we never have time to be at home. We are big fans of traveling and getting to learn from the different cultures and cuisine.
Your favorite dessert to eat yourself?
I get asked this question a lot… I never know what to answer since I love everything. I do know that I could never say NO to a brownie, love carrot cake, and lemon bars. Carlos’ favorite is ice cream he loves it so so much, he loves mixing it with cereal. He is a big fan pecan pie as well.
We love working with Hand on Sweets! Here’s a little peek at some of their deliciousness we photographed for a Tampa Mad Men Themed Birthday Party.