By Brandon HENSLEY
Last week the employees of Baked on Oceanview were getting ready for prom by using Styrofoam and sharing a hot glue gun.
Not quite. Behind the counter in the kitchen area, Danielle Ortiz, Leslie Garcia and Natalie Leist were pitching in for Baked’s involvement with a themed prom for elite Yelp.com users.
If that sounds strange, Erin Kenneally, the daughter of the bakery’s owner Sharon, laughed and shrugged several times when talking about it herself. Through several connections, Kenneally’s business, which sits off Honolulu Avenue down Ocean View Boulevard in the Montrose Shopping Park, got the call to design themed cakes for 250 people at the Yelp prom, which was held on Valentine’s Day at Noor Ella, a Pasadena banquet venue.
Yelp is a popular website for customer reviews on businesses and services, and if users write over a thousand reviews, they are deemed elite. This “elite” prom’s theme was celebrity couples, sort of like a costume party, and Kenneally’s group made centerpiece cakes and the party-goers could guess which famous couples the cakes suggested.
All of them, from current pairings like Jay Z and Beyoncé to the original couple Adam and Eve, were made from Styrofoam, fondant and royal icing. Nice to look at but not to eat. Kenneally and her group got to pick winners who guessed the most cakes correctly and posted them on the photo-sharing social networking site Instagram. First prize was a $50 certificate to Baked on Oceanview.
“It’s overwhelming as we get down to the wire,” Kenneally said on the day before the prom, “but it’s a good opportunity, and hopefully it’ll get our name out there.”
A Lady and the Tramp cake that employee Natalie Leist was finishing up featured little white bones around the bottom, made of sugar confetti, which Kenneally admitted she bought from Jane’s Cakes and Chocolate Supply in La Cañada.
“We could have made them, but it’s very time consuming and it would have looked exactly the same,” she said.
Cakes take time, and Kenneally said her mother originally didn’t want the business to feature them (they’ve been in operation for two years), citing time consumption and stress as reasons. During the two-week period they had to work on the prom cakes, they also had requests for two real, edible cakes, putting the pressure on even more.
Kenneally’s brother Sean usually works just on Tuesdays, but he was scrambling around the back on this day helping out.
“Ideally, we wouldn’t all be working at once,” Kenneally said, while adding Sparr Heights’ Facebook page recently discovered Baked on Oceanview, and more business is good, no matter how much work it takes.
“We’re not yet at the point of saying, ‘We’re too busy, we can’t do that for you,’” Kenneally said.
Baked offers a variety of pastries too and those also made an appearance at the Yelp prom. Each centerpiece was accompanied by its own dessert that, yes, was edible. For instance, the Lucy and Ricky Ricardo cake came with mini chocolate cupcakes baked in polka-dot wrappers with red hearts on top, and the Beyoncé cake had pecan pie bars because “we heard pecan ice cream was her favorite.”
Instagram user @andrealvl guessed the most cakes correctly, with five, and won the top prize. Second place went to @mrtinklez who won a $25 certificate to Baked.
There were 43 reviews of the Yelp prom as of Tuesday, and all of them were either four or five-star reviews. “Best. Prom. EVER.” Said Queenie I. “Prom was like, SO FUN,” commented Jessica Y.
Kenneally hopes that enthusiasm translates to her place soon enough. She said not enough people know about Baked on Oceanview outside of La Crescenta.
“They have to give us a shot,” she said. “Once they try us it will definitely live up to their expectations. They just don’t know about us yet.”
Baked on Oceanview can be followed on Instagram at @bakedonoceanview, and on Facebook at “Baked on Oceanview.”