Stephanie ‘Chefanie’ Nass creates stylish cakes that match your clothes for brands like Ann Taylor, Lafayette 148 and Uniqlo
Have your cake, and wear it, too.
Stephanie “Chefanie” Nass, a New York City-based caterer, baker and all-around savvy business woman, built a culinary empire from scratch by hosting dinner parties in her Upper West Side apartment before “dressing” custom cakes in fashionable prints for clients like Tory Burch, Ann Taylor, Lafayette 148 and Habitual.
“From the time I was a little girl, my nickname has been ‘Chefanie’ because I couldn’t stop cooking and baking,” Nass, 27, tells Moneyish. “I was always passionate about bringing people together over food and experience.”
Nass studied culinary in France for a year when she was just 16, and by the time she went to study at Columbia University, she was already staging (the culinary word for “interning”) in well-known Manhattan kitchens like Middle Eastern restaurant Balaboosta. The avid art lover also pursued jobs working in galleries to feed her second passion: design.
“By the time I was in college, I was like, ‘I really want to create a brand similar to Martha Stewart. I know how to cook, I know my aesthetic, but I need to learn more about business,’” says Nass. So she moved to Silicon Valley for a year in 2013 to work as a financial analyst, where she learned how to build business plans and pitch investors. When she moved back to New York City in 2014, she launched Victory Club, a private supperclub bringing entrepreneurs and creative folks together for art-inspired meals such as raviolis that looked like watercolor paintings. The parties ultimately led to her big baking idea.
“I was creating art inspired-meals, and was like, ‘I really would love to customize how my food looks,’” she said
So in 2016, Nass created paper-thin, $15 edible stickers made out of sugar (which is much lighter than fondant) that can be custom designed with any print of your choice, and sealed onto cakes, cookies, doughnuts or cake pops to make treats look as good as they taste. Her sheets are sold nationwide in nearly all 50 states, and across the globe throughout Europe and in countries including China and Saudi Arabia.
“It’s a hack to make you look great in front of your guests,” says Nass, who built her social media following (she now has more than 65,000 Instagram followers) by pairing her own fashion-forward looks with baked goods. She has rocked a plaid off-the-shoulder gown with a matching plaid cake in the exact same print, for instance, and styled cakes with a checkered tablecloth sheets for a pizza party.
She even paraded down Fifth Avenue in a polka dot dress and twinning cake for a Uniqlo event. “It’s another way for brands to market their message,” says Nass. “Why would you have a plain cake when you can have a cake that matches your aesthetic?”
Chefanie’s cakes have also attracted celebrities like Quest Love, Hilary Rhoda and Rachel Zoe.
Here are some of her best party tips for hosts:
It’s all about presentation.
Nass says to experiment with colorful foods to make basic appetizers pop.
“Wherever possible, opt for the more visual ingredient. For example, purple potatoes in lieu of regular white ones; heirloom tomatoes in lieu of standard red; beautiful patterned pastas sold in speciality stores rather than the boring old plain ones,” she advises.
Turn sides dishes into edible art.
Depending on the event, find cookie cutter molds you can use to shape up side dishes, like a Christmas tree mold to spruce up an otherwise “blah” blob of mashed potatoes around the holidays.
“I swear by my ring mold,” says Nass. “I use it to give shape to layered salads or starchy sides (rice, couscous), but also as a cookie cutter for sugar cookies in holiday season.”
Get creative with seating place cards that are reflective of the event theme and city you’re in.
“Personalize each person’s seat with something special,” says Nass. “When I lived in Palo Alto, I wrote guests’ names on lemons from my lemon tree, and in autumn in the Northeast, I collect bright fallen leaves on which I assign seats. Most often, I write people’s names on hand-painted menus, though. These non-standard place cards also serve as a memento for guests to bring home.”
Make cleanup easy
Do yourself a favor and get a head start on the cleaning process.
“Make sure the dishwasher is empty before the guests arrive, so you can add dirty dishes in there as they come back to the kitchen,” she recommends.
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