Highland Bakery is one of my favorite breakfast and lunch spots in the city. If you’ve ever dined there then you know what I’m talking about. But did you know Highland Bakery is the place to get the fanciest, most artistic cakes in Atlanta? Karen Portaleo is their cake designer and she calls them “sculptural” cakes. I call them couture! These cakes are works of art. Exquisite. Stunning. Original and Edible!!! YES, and not only are these cakes beautiful works of art they are also moist and super delicious.
Karen’s background is in fine arts. Her medium is clay and painting and now, well, its still painting, but she replaced the clay with something much yummier like dough, buttercream and icing. It took a little convincing of Highland Bakery owner Stacey Eames to strut down the designer cake runway, but she gave Karen a chance and the concept took off quickly. Now with the assistance of a great publicist, Jamie Annarino, Red Clay PR, no one’s left their cake out in the rain.
Karen’s client list is impressive. She has sweetened the lives of queens and housewives from Elton John to Sheree Whitfield of Real Housewives of Atlanta. According to Jamie, these cakes are so elaborate that often people don’t realize they are cakes until they are being cut. What’s even more astonishing is that Karen is the person doing the cutting, which is not always an easy task, as she pointed out, ” I’m working against time because I am working with food (perishable) and sometimes I have to stay up all night long to finish just to take a knife to the cake the next day and cut it up into many pieces!”
This week, TLC was filming at Highland Bakery. I met a few friends for lunch to catch some of the action. There were video cameras, lights and large microphones all over the place. TLC was filming for a new show called, America Eats. Highland Bakery has been noted as one of the top bakeries/restaurants in the nation. It was exciting! (My excitement continued when) Karen took me downstairs to the baking studio for a peek at her latest creation! Again, I found myself mesmerized by the beauty, craftsmanship and overall exquisiteness of her design. Karen used bright saturated color with 24k accents to create a Hindu inspired masterpiece. It’s a good thing I was full from lunch!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of dining at Highland Bakery, treat yourself. And, if you are in the market for a show-stopping, sculptural cake, ask for Karen.