When Hannah Tai was growing up, she had a fascination with food and an appreciation of all things beautiful. She was lucky to travel the world alongside her folks, who were travel and food writers, so she was exposed early on to some amazing desserts. She remembers swooning at the stunning cakes sparkling in the windows of Paris Patisseries on a trip there. A vegetarian, Hannah knew her focus would naturally be on the sweeter side of the culinary coin.
She tells us that, ironically, her focus in the early days of her career was on plated desserts because she loved the complexity and beauty of a composed dessert. A Chinese language major in college, Hannah soon realized that baking was her true calling. She went through a pastry and baking course at a local community college and was itching to get real baking experience. She wound up as the pastry chef at a high-end restaurant in Lafayette called Tourelle, and after that worked as lead pastry chef at Jeremiah Tower's Santa Fe Bar and Grill in Berkeley. After the closing of Santa Fe, she took some time off, studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley and launched Hannah's Edible Art in 2000. Her commitment? To bring high-end, organic vegan wedding and special occasion cakes to her customers. She also creates gluten-free cakes.
Hannah truly enjoys working collaboratively with couples, explaining, “A cake is definitely a blank canvas that ultimately takes on the character of those two people getting married. I take quite a bit of time to get to know the couple, and how best to represent them to their guests through their cake. A cake, though temporary, is an art piece which is an important part of pulling the wedding together visually and gastronomically, so I take my job very seriously! If a couple trusts me enough to be part of their special day, then my goal is for them to feel 100% confident in my abilities. My philosophy has always been to give it my all. I take great pride in the uniqueness of my designs, and my clients seem to gravitate towards me for that reason.” Take a look at them and it’s not hard to understand this. Hannah is a true cake artist, in our opinion.
We asked her about any favorite cakes she’s created, wedding or not. “One of my favorite cakes to create was a special birthday cake for one of my best friends, a bird lover. She purposely gave me no direction because she didn't want to stifle my creativity. It wound up being one of my prettiest cakes, with handmade chocolate birds, black flowers with a gold patina, and a beautiful bird design that I stenciled on the sides in black. Another cake that stands out on my mind was for an event commemorating the anniversary of the first same-sex marriages in San Francisco. The cake was an enormous six tier monolith, hand painted and featuring edible jewels, gold bows and sugar roses, along with edible images of the first couples to wed, with a delicate handcrafted sugar vase with hundreds of tiny sugar pearls as the topper. The cake took a full week to make!”
As for her inspirations under her baker’s hat, she tells us they come from all corners, from nature, architecture, art, or simply a beautiful design or color that calls to be translated into sugar. Because her cakes are all vegan, she explains there’s an ethical aspect to her cakes. “The great thing is that when clients and guests taste my cakes, they are universally in awe that vegan can taste so good. I have been told that not only are my cakes the best vegan cakes they’ve ever had, but the best, period. Who can ask for a better comment than that?” Agreed.
So what can you expect from working with Hannah? For one, she aspires to make the experience of working with her as seamless and wonderful as the cake she promises to make for you. You’ll sit down with her for a tasting and consultation where she’ll go over every nick and cranny of details with you. Then she’ll sit and let the info sink in so she can sketch her ideas out so you have a visual mark to go by. On your wedding day, you’ll have a beautiful piece of art that will be created personally by Hannah from start to finish. View her beautiful cakes on her website here at Hannah's Edible Art.