Articles In The 'Only The Best' Category

September 26, 2016

Interview with Ron Ben-Israel of RBI Cakes

By:

Ron Ben-Israel / Photo by Kris Mae Weiss

Ron Ben-Israel / Photo by Kris Mae Weiss

 

World-renowned cake maker and a master in the art of decorative sugar, Ron Ben-Israel was aptly dubbed “the Manolo Blahnik of wedding cakes” by the New York Times in 2014.

After serving in the Israeli military and touring the world as a professional modern dancer, Ron began baking; a pursuit inspired by his Viennese mother, who passed on a fascination with the discipline and chemistry of cake construction.  He was discovered by Martha Stewart in 1995, when she was drawn to one of his cakes in a bakery store window. Stewart was starting a wedding magazine at the time and called Ron in to meet her, encouraging him to start his own business.

RBI Cakes quickly rose to the top of couture cake design. His intricate creations have been featured in countless publications and TV shows, and are frequently spotted at the finest venues in New York City.  Ron starred as the host and judge of the hit show Sweet Genius on The Food Network, and currently serves as the Master Pastry Instructor at the International Culinary Center in New York City.  Ron’s charity work includes promotion of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights, as well as involvement in City Harvest and other local NYC organizations.

We’ve had the privilege of working with Ron on many beautiful weddings, and love seeing how our floral and cake designs merge. After stopping by his studio for a delightful afternoon of champagne and cake-tasting, we had the honor of speaking to Ron about his past, his process, and his dreams for the future of cake-making.

 

bride and blossom team visiting ron ben-israel's / RBI Cakes' NYC studio

Bride & Blossom Team with Ron Ben-Israel at the RBI Cakes NYC Studio

 

First, I’m curious about your history in dance and military training – obviously both are deeply rooted in discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. Do you feel that these experiences awarded you the drive to teach yourself a new art form? Does deciding you will learn an entirely new skill set from scratch require a certain “reckless” confidence?

There is a certain common principle to training in the fine arts, dance – and the military. I call it “do first – ask later.” If I’m willing to experiment with a new idea, a movement, or an order given by a person more experienced than me, I can learn. I don’t need to know the whole picture at that initial moment, only to be open to a new experience. Trusting that process allows me to move forward and temporarily suspend my inhibitions. Later on comes the deep learning through information and repetitiveness. Rather than describe my experience as “reckless,” I would define it as being open to the process – and this could be by necessity, as in the compulsory army service, or by choice – as with my cake career.

Cake by Ron Ben-Israel / Lindsay & Billy / JWM Essex House / Charlie Juliet Photography

Cake by Ron Ben-Israel / Lindsay & Billy / JWM Essex House / Charlie Juliet Photography

 

Even looking at your cakes through a screen, they appear to me almost as living things. I feel as though I can see the dancer in you creating movement and relishing asymmetry.  In designing these cakes, do you find yourself channeling dance and a dancer’s keen sense of motion and space? 

Thank you for this observation. When I started making cakes for weddings and celebrations, I wasn’t very inspired by what was popular then in the cake decorating world. Everything seemed static and “old fashioned”. On the floral front, though, floral designers were coming up with exciting shapes and colors, and the bridal fashion industry was getting a vivid boost from designers such as Vera Wang. I wanted to bring those exciting developments into the cake arena. Even though I wasn’t very experienced, I relied on my dance and art training to explore a certain sense of movement in my cakes. To this day, I love our popular concept of serene tall cake tiers, perfectly iced, contrasted with a lush cascade of sugar flowers wrapping around them.

 

Cake by Ron Ben-Israel / Lindsay & Billy / JWM Essex House / Charlie Juliet Photography

Cake by Ron Ben-Israel / Lindsay & Billy / JWM Essex House / Charlie Juliet Photography

 

Particularly for cakes that take many hours to make, are there moments when you and the cake are “getting along” and other moments when the cake seems to be resisting your intentional design? How much freedom do you allow during the process for spontaneous, circumstantial, or instinctual changes? 

I tell my crew that our work should always be “perfectly executed” and recognized as our brand. Just like you would know that a garment came from a certain fashion house. But it’s true that some concepts, no matter how well thought of on paper, don’t comply to my wishes when it comes to fulfilling the vision with butter and sugar. Because we’re dealing with a perishable medium and as we have deadlines to meet, I may change directions in order to deliver a finished cake. Luckily, with experience, there are enough options available to me and my crew to accomplish each order in a way to satisfy our clients. After the completion of the project I may analyze the results so we can learn from the experience for the next time. I guess that’s the eternal conflict of each creative person – never being fully satisfied, and always striving to do more.

 

Cake by Ron Ben-Israel / Amanda & Thomas / JWM Essex House / Kelly Guenther Photography

Cake by Ron Ben-Israel / Amanda & Thomas / JWM Essex House / Kelly Guenther Photography

 

I became so mesmerized looking at your cake gallery that I completely forgot these cakes were for eating! Can you tell me more about creating consumable art? What does it feel like to watch people slice open and eat a cake you’ve made? I feel as though it must be quite healthy creatively, to persistently devote yourself to creating something temporary.

I would not want to switch places with an artist who creates art to be presented in a gallery or a museum. I love my job and my position as the baker & cake designer who provides a product that is attractive to the eye and delicious to the palate. It’s a special place to be, as all our cakes are meant to be displayed and consumed during celebrations. I get to cooperate with a creative community of designers from all disciplines – stationery, flowers, lighting, fashion, architecture, music, and culinary. The cake is seen from the beginning of the reception, and is often the last ceremonial offering of the event. When the celebrants cut the cake, they symbolically serve their guests and share the sweetness with all. That is the moment I love the most!


Lastly, tell me a little about what you’re working on now and what dreams you have for the future of RBI Cakes? 

I’ve been teaching for almost as long as I’ve been making cakes – I’m used to training with others and sharing knowledge and techniques, and the class environment is where I strive. Besides being part of the faculty of the International Culinary Center, I’ve been conducting three-day intensives in my new facility at the heart of New York City’s Garment District. It’s been very satisfying to host enthusiastic students from all over the world, and show them where our magic takes place. I’m also launching a line of baking tools for the home baker this Fall, which I’m very excited about. Hopefully, the products will be available at some of the popular home goods stores soon. I’m involved with a few interesting startups in the dessert and party spaces, and the whole process is new and exciting for me – of course, none of these may lead to success, but I’m learning a lot. And finally, besides designing cakes, I’m still searching for novel ideas to incorporate my experience with cakes into a new TV show – any suggestions would be welcome!

Whatever unfolds for RBI Cakes, we look forward to feasting our eyes on many more masterpieces.

Categories:

Blog, Only The Best, We Love

SHARE

August 31, 2016

Interview with Cody Raisig of Wedding Drone New York

By:

Cody Raisig / photo by: Bianca Bourgeouis

Cody Raisig / photo by: Bianca Bourgeouis

 

You may recognize Cody Raisig as one of the most sought-after wedding photographers in NYC.  After years of capturing incredible photographs that emphasize authenticity, soft light, and powerful composition, Cody has taken to the sky and launched Wedding Drone New York, a full-service videography company producing footage of weddings like you’ve never seen before.  We caught up with Cody about his exciting new business, dream venues for aerial footage, and how to embrace drones on your special day without feeling like you’ve walked into a sci-fi movie.

What sets Wedding Drones New York apart from other NYC wedding videography?
Aerial cinematography is cutting edge. Very few wedding movie companies use drones; but for those that do so, most are operating illegally, without proper authorization from the FAA, and most don’t have drone-specific liability insurance. But that’s just the start. Wedding Drone New York uses the most high-tech drones, enabling us to capture the most spectacular footage. Whereas other wedding videographers use drones that are operated by one person, we use drones that are operated by two people, allowing us to perform the most amazing camera movements.

Additionally, we are dedicated to documenting everything that takes place outdoors on a wedding day from the sky, not just one small moment. Our wedding video teams have dedicated drone operators on location for the entire wedding day, in addition to conventional cameramen working on the ground. Most other wedding video companies can only do one or the other.

I’ve noticed some brides on blogs who are resistant to drone videography, seeing it as too invasive and futuristic.  What advice would you give to brides to feel more comfortable having a drone flying around them?
In addition to the drone, my team always has cinematographers on the ground using conventional handheld cameras; therefore, the bride can decide how much or how little she wants the drone to be a part of the day. For instance, if a bride doesn’t want the drone to distract from the ceremony, we won’t fly the drone then, leaving it solely to our ground crew to document the ceremony. Another way to make the drone unobtrusive during the ceremony is to have it fly at a high enough altitude so that it can’t be seen or heard. When the drone is 200 feet above you, you can’t hear it or see it; but it’s still getting an insanely cool view of everything. Problem solved.

How did you learn to operate a drone and what is that process like?
I first bought a tiny drone that I could fly indoors and crash into the walls and ceiling of my house – the drone was the size of a silver dollar. Once I mastered that, I bought the real thing and flew the drone very cautiously. At the same time, I was getting a pilot’s license, flying real aircraft. Flight school made me put my life in my own hands, and I quickly realized that flying a two-pound drone was far less complicated than flying a Cessna. Lastly, operating a drone is only half the game; one needs to have the artful eye in order to compose incredible shots. I’ve been a professional cinematographer and still photographer my entire career, shooting weddings around the world and directing photoshoots from Japan to Switzerland, Mexico to Costa Rica. A lot of geeks use drones, but it takes the eye of an artist to get incredible shots.

The video on your website is filmed at a gorgeous, sprawling estate. Do you, or can you, also capture drone footage in a densely populated area like Manhattan?
Using a drone in Manhattan is very challenging for a variety of reasons. The majority of Manhattan resides within LaGuardia Airport’s airspace, which is entirely off-limits to drones. Downtown Manhattan is fair game for drones in terms of airspace, but the challenge then becomes flying the drone over the general public, which is prohibited. We are only allowed to fly the drone over willing participants of the photoshoot, eliminating places where random people are hanging out and walking. That said, a rooftop in lower Manhattan, would be fair game to fly the drone over. Can you a picture a wedding on top of Tribeca Rooftop?

Tell me about a venue you’d love to capture with drone photography.
I’ve photographed several weddings at Blue Hill Stone Barns, and the venue is really gorgeous. I think it would be an awesome place to bring a drone. I can imagine getting shots of the bride and groom on their grounds, and it would be stunning. Also, any wedding that takes place by the ocean or beach would be great, too. I photographed a wedding in Saint Lucia at a place called Cap Maison, and the ceremony took place on a cliff over the Caribbean Sea. That would be perfect for Wedding Drone New York!

Be sure to check out Wedding Drone New York on:

Facebook
Instagram
Youtube

Categories:

Blog, Only The Best, Trends & Tips, Wedding Tech

SHARE

August 11, 2015

Preserved Wedding Bouquets

By:

Preserved-Bouquet-Heather-Gane

Wish your wedding flowers could last forever? We recently discovered the work of Heather Gane, an entrepreneur using state-of-the-art technology to preserve bridal bouquets by freeze-drying, with breathtaking results. We caught up with Heather to get the details on this amazing process and what makes her work stand out.

How did you get started in flower preservation?
I was working in a completely different field when, through some random Google searches, I came upon someone in New Hampshire doing wedding-flower preservation, and I thought it was such a great idea. I went and visited them, and decided I loved it. No one around here did it so there was definitely an opportunity.  I trained in Arizona and Florida and then got started. It was definitely a big commitment. The machinery is very expensive, the training was expensive and it takes a while to really ramp up the business to where you’re actually making money. But I knew it was something I wanted to do so I decided to go for it.

Why did you decide to focus on wedding bouquets?
I loved the idea of providing this service to brides. The bouquet is such a huge part of the wedding day and I hate to see it get thrown away, especially when a bride loves it as much as they usually do.

How long will preserved bouquets last?
The freeze drying industry has been around for approximately 30 years. We know that freeze dried flowers will last at least that long, however, if kept in the right conditions, there is no reason your flowers wouldn’t last forever.

Your preserved bouquets are the most exquisite we’ve seen. What sets your service apart?
I wanted to be different. I knew there was a market out there that would want to preserve their bouquets in a really beautiful display. I wanted to gear my business to those brides. It’s so important to me to provide my clients with a piece of their wedding they can have forever. Not just a box with some flowers in it, but a display that will go with their décor at home and they’ll want to see on their wall every day. That’s why I use Larson Juhl frames. Brides have access to their full catalog, not just a handful of frames, so there are literally hundreds to choose from. Larson has been a leader in the framing industry for years, they really are the best. I also use museum glass, which protects the flowers from fading, and you can barely even see that there’s glass there! These conservation quality materials and the meticulousness I put into the preservation and design is what I think really sets Heather Gane apart.

Heather Gane has appointment-only locations in New York City and York, Pennsylvania. She takes reservations up to a year in advance. Brides should expect to receive their beautifully preserved, framed bouquet about 8-12 weeks after the wedding.

Wedding Bouquet Preservation by Heather Vane

Categories:

Blog, Only The Best, Wedding Tech, Your Inspiration Fix

SHARE

May 6, 2015

Wedding Photographer Ryan Brenizer and the Brenizer Method

By:

Cascading-orchid-bouquet-blue-hill-stone-barns

When Ryan Brenizer photographed a wedding we did at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, we were struck by the artistry of his work. His talent for catching breathtaking, candid moments is obvious and his dynamic compositions capture both motion and emotion. American Photo magazine named Brenizer as one of the Top Ten Wedding Photographers.

Brenizer accomplishes his unique style by taking shallow depth-of-field images with a fast telephoto lens. He describes this look as “bokeh panoramas.” It’s come to be known as the Brenizer Method, and is now sought and used by phoptographers all over the world. If you would like to learn more and maybe give it a try yourself, Brenizer did a Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”). He offers great advice for budding wedding professionals:
“Try to keep the work that you do fun for yourself, and keep chasing novelty, and then growth happens naturally.”

Here’s another magical example of a wedding photograph created by Brenizer using his method.

Visit our wedding gallery Beautiful Barn, for more photos by Ryan Brenizer.

Categories:

Blog, Only The Best

SHARE

October 27, 2014

Inspiring Collection from Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart

By:

Bridal Accessories from Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart with Flowers by Bride & Blossom

The Knot just did a wonderful feature on Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection of bridal accessories. We chose a few of our favorite shots and paired them with some of our recent wedding flower creations.

We get inspired watching the ways brides use similar elements to reflect their own style. The bride who chose a bouquet of classic calla lilies, wrapped in ribbon and adorned by vintage-look brooches, might choose a similar hair accessory to continue the theme. The gleaming butterfly headpiece strikes a pretty but understated note that contrasts with the whimsical mood cultivated by the playful bride who brought us silk butterflies to add to her bouquet and centerpieces.

Don’t miss the rest of this lovely collection. And for more inspiring blossoms, visit us on Pinterest.

Categories:

Blog, Only The Best

SHARE

October 6, 2014

Favorites From Wedding Crashers in Brooklyn

By:

Image by David Juliet

Image by David Juliet

 

Wedding Crashers, a Brooklyn wedding fair at the Wythe Hotel, introduced us to new vendors and inspired us with creative ideas. This event emphasized handcrafted and unique touches to bring a personalized, vintage-modern feeling to weddings. Sustainable design and responsibly sourced ingredients and materials were hot topics at the fair, but didn’t pull focus from what couples always look for: charming, elegant and sentimental ways to express their love and taste. Here are a few of our favorite things from the fair.

 

image

Bario-Neal
Handmade engagement rings crafted with Fairmined metals and ethically sourced diamonds and gems. Bario-Neal offers total customization of all ring designs and transparency about suppliers and sourcing. Some diamonds in their designs are “recycled” or antique. Couples aiming for a green lifestyle need not sacrifice elegance. We loved the classic shape and colored stone in their Aquamarine Halo ring.

 

 

image

Rebecca Schoneveld Bridal Design
Schoneveld designs gorgeous, noteworthy gowns but we got a peek of her 2015 collection and were struck by these Silk Bridal Pants. Chic and elegant, these would be perfect for a fashion-forward bride inspired by the Stella McCartney pantsuit Amal Alamuddin chose for her civil ceremony.

 

image

Fox and Hare Design
After seeing accessories from Fox and Hare at the fair, we checked out their online store and found this delicate Romantic Long Blush Wedding Veil. Blush wedding dresses are having a moment and this delicate veil makes a strong case for the soft hue. Blush flatters so many complexions, adding to brides’ natural fresh glow.

 

image

Patina Rentals

Ever wonder where the couples in those charming Brooklyn engagement shoots find the perfect antique sofa for a casual pose? Or find yourself envying a rooftop reception where guests lounge in hammocks and danced on Moroccan rugs? If you long for a Pinterest-worthy celebration, Patina can help you pull it off. Browse their selection of carefully curated vintage furniture and decor, then get inspired by what these folks do with streamers.

 

 

image

Tribute String Quartet
Tribute provides wedding music that doesn’t sound like wedding music, covering unexpected hits and modern favorites with classical instruments. At the fair they pleased the crowd with songs by Michael Jackson. We like their romantic version of Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears and first-dance worthy takes on the work of artists including David Bowie and Sam Cooke. Find other eclectic, talented musicians for your wedding at Lucy Music.

Categories:

Blog, News & Events, Only The Best

SHARE

Bride & Blossom

Bride & Blossom