Cake makers: There are plenty in Dallas, enough that there's even a Food Network TV show about them. But there’s one in particular whose social media has a lot of people wondering the same thing: Is that really a cake?
The woman behind the Instagram account and website A Cake Maker is Vanessa Sampson, a New Orleans native with an Air Force background. This is her full-time job now, she says, but getting into the baking business was a total accident.
“I needed to do something for my daughter’s birthday,” Sampson admits, "and we came up with the idea that we were just gonna make a cake at home and put sprinkles on it. And everybody that had the cake at the party liked it. One of the other kids wanted it for their birthday, and that’s when the questions started. I was like, 'Oh no, I don’t bake.'”
Sampson continued to bake cakes as gifts, and soon, she started getting requests.
“One of my daughter’s friends wanted the Wilson ball from 'Cast Away,'" she says. "It was my first fondant cake. I never dealt with fondant. I told her mother if I nailed the cake she could pay me, but if I didn’t make it right, that she didn’t have to pay me.
"When I made the cake, everybody loved it so much that her daughter didn’t want to cut the cake for a couple weeks," she says. "They froze it and ate the cupcakes. I was so excited. I was like, 'Wow, I really can do this.'”
And believe it or not, this newfound praise was going to a woman who has no interest in sweets whatsoever.
“I like spicy and salty foods,” Sampson confesses. She took her sweetness weakness and turned it into a strength.
“Years ago, before I could decorate, the importance was how it tasted, not how it looked,” Sampson says. “I have the flavor down before I had the art down. I don’t like cake. So the question I had to ask myself was, What would make you eat cake? What would you see on the menu that would make you eat it? People who like cake are not my critics, it’s the people who don’t.”
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That knack for flavor and decorating began bringing in big-name clientele Sampson is grateful for, but she doesn't let get to her head.
“Can I first be honest and tell you that I don’t care about celebrity cakes? I don’t care about celebrities, I care about people," she says. "I don’t charge celebrities any more or less money. I think it’s disrespectful to do a cake free for somebody, then charge the average person. The only thing that’s exciting about the potential of a celebrity cake is the notoriety, but you better know they paid for it."
Sampson, who has created treats for NFL star Antonio Brown and other local athletes, looks forward to the future, which involves opening her own shop. But you can bet she’ll remain the same no matter how big she — or her cakes — get.