Internationally renowned pastry chef Benny Rivera of New York’s City Cakes will be making the trip to Australia in November for the Cake, Bake & Sweets Show in Melbourne and Sydney.
Originally a financial analyst, Benny Rivera realised his passion for cake decoration was more than just a hobby. After studying at the Institute of Culinary Education, he became a master in some of the most advanced techniques in modern cake design.
Benny’s work has featured on Food Network and various publications and he has won numerous awards.
We spoke to the chef about his impressive career and impending trip to Australia.
1. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE INDUSTRY?
I’m originally from Puerto Rico but have lived in New York City for the last 20 years; I am 49 years old. Currently I’m working with my business partners on the expansion of our business City Cakes. I have been working in the cake industry for about 11 years. What started as a hobby turned into a business after some TV appearances.
2. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD TO TRAVEL FOR WORK?
My favorite place from the ones I have had the chance to visit to teach is Australia. Yes, there you have it! I have fallen in love with this country, the people and how friendly and amazing they are. Not to mention the beauty of it all. Maybe one day I will move to Australia—you never know!
3. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS AND CAREER HIGHLIGHTS?
Winning Cake Artist of the Year by the New York Cake Show and American Decorator Magazine. Also, being selected as one of the top 10 cake designers from USA by Cake Masters Magazine. And, of course, creating amazing cakes for celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, James Franco, Mike Myers and others.
4. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE THE LEAP FROM FINANCIAL ANALYSIS TO BEING A CHEF?
There was a point in which I felt I needed to do something and express art with my hands. Somehow, I have always loved arts in all its ramifications. One day I decided to go to culinary school, just for fun to learn some basic cake techniques. Then right after, I started creating edible art with my own twist.
5. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN STARSTRUCK BY CLIENTS OR PEOPLE WALKING INTO YOUR STORE?
Yes! It definitely makes me feel a little weird! Sometimes people tend to stop by City Cakes because they want to meet me or see me working and of course, to buy some of our amazing products.
6. IF YOU COULD DESIGN A CAKE FOR ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?
I would absolutely love to create a design for Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres.
7. WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN 5-10 YEARS?
Currently, my business partner Marc Coolrecht and I are working on some huge plans that will soon be revealed. But I could see City Cakes and our Half Pound Cookie Company in other countries. Anything is possible!