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Foodie Friday: Bon Vivant Cakes mixes up cake batter with creativity

Foodie Friday: Bon Vivant Cakes mixes up cake batter with creativity
Foodie Friday: Bon Vivant Cakes mixes up cake batter with creativity 04:24

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's Foodie Friday, and today's spotlight is for dessert lovers. Bon Vivant Cakes is where baker Emily Nejad is adding a creative twist to every cake she makes, and sharing her love for baking with others.

Her colorful, yet unassuming storefront nestled on Spaulding Avenue in Chicago's East Albany Park neighborhood is where Nejad is teaching Chicagoans how to have their cake and eat it, too. 

Nejad worked a slew of creative jobs before she got into cake decorating, and it wasn't until her parents got her a KitchenAid stand mixer that she really began to learn the art of baking.

"I am self-taught, right? So for me, I never had anyone teaching me how to do these things. Failure was my only teacher," said Nejad. "With the process of baking cakes, it felt so magical to me that in the span of four, five, six hours, you could take really regular-shmegular ingredients – flour, butter, sugar, and maybe a couple sprinkles – and transform it into something so beautiful, and so creative, and something that you could share with other people."

She started out doing custom cake orders, but after several years she pivoted to teaching lessons and opening her shop Bon Vivant Cakes. 

Emily and her team host cake and cookie decorating classes, specifically modeled for beginners.

"I know that everyone walking into my class is coming from a different level of experience, different backgrounds, different levels of trauma around baking and cake decorating. We've all had some dark moments in the kitchen, but it is a real beginner class," said Nejad.

For a beginner class, she covers an insane amount of ground. Students learn how to stack and fill a cake, how to do a crumb coat, proper pastry tweezer techniques, and how to use a piping bag – all this among a dozen other skills and techniques.

"We embark on a three, three-and-a-half hour cake journey together; which I know, for some people, they walk in here, and they've seen the class listing online, and they're like, 'That cake does not look like a beginner cake,'" said Nejad.

Nejad said she encourages people to come to the class with friends or by themselves. Her goal is for her students to come out with more than just a gorgeous cake.

"My personal mission is for this to be a place where people can connect with other creative or creatively curious people; where they can make friends, [and] just for like, three hours, put your phone away and be present. Because that's the other thing with cake decorating. You really have to be present with it," said Nejad.

She attests to the relaxing, nearly therapeutic impact of working with your hands and being intentionally creative.

"It is hypnotic, and it really just asks you to be completely present in that moment. My one philosophy is that people need to make things with their hands. Like, I think that is so important to being a human," said Nejad.

Emily's classes fill up fast, but you can sign up for updates at her website, and follow her on social media to stay up to date for when new classes open.

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