Helena finds wedding niche

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006


A new Helena business added its name to a growing list of businesses in the city catering to the wedding industry.

Cake Walk opened its doors for business several weeks ago. The bakery specializes in wedding cakes and is owned by Clay Tavel and Kim Martin, both graduates of Culinard, the Culinary Institute at Virginia College in Birmingham.

Cake Walk sits on Second Street in Old Town Helena, just a few doors down

from The Gazebo and the White House Room, two other Helena businesses that serve the wedding industry. That list also includes Magnolia Manor and The Gas Light House.

Sometimes, Tavel visits with staff at neighboring businesses to share tips and information.

&8220;We help each other out,&8221; he said.

Tavel said Helena was a good location for their new business.

&8220;Helena seems to be the new wedding hotspot,&8221; he said.

Cake Walk also features retail sales of various desserts. Inside the shop, cases are filled with raspberry and coconut truffles, white chocolate mocha truffles, red velvet cupcakes, oatmeal cranberry cookies, white chocolate cherry-macadamia nut brittle, peppermint patty inside-out cakes and a variety of fudge.

Morgan Coburn, also a Culinard graduate, is the shop&8217;s chocolatier.

It only takes a few minutes with Tavel to realize that making wedding cakes is an art form, and one that he is proud of. Dozens of photographs of elaborate wedding cakes sit atop tables in a back room of Cake Walk.

Some of Tavel&8217;s designs may soon get extra exposure. The shop will be featured in a photo shoot for a 2006 edition of Alabama Weddings Magazine.

Tavel said his mentors as far as wedding cake design include Colette Peters and Sylvia Weinstock. Peters owns Colette&8217;s Cakes in New York, and Weinstock&8217;s most recent design was a fancy cake for Star Jones&8217; wedding.

&8220;Mainly, I look up to them because what they do is amazing and they&8217;ve achieved amazing success in this business,&8221; Tavel said. &8220;They&8217;re like celebrities to us. Every field that you go into has a world of its own. That&8217;s what we&8217;ve found out with cakes.&8221;

Tavel said his favorite cake design was a five-tier cake of five separate Tiffany and Company boxes arranged together, with one box falling off another.

&8220;I&8217;m more for the whimsical, the different, but I also love the traditional designs,&8221; he said. &8220;The art of what we do is making the cakes not look like cakes. That&8217;s the fun part.&8221;

Some of the designs Cake Walk features is a cake designed like the top of a tuxedo. Another design has the bride chasing the groom off the top of the cake.

Helping to run his own business is fine with Tavel, as long as he&8217;s enjoying it.

&8220;As long as you&8217;re doing what you love, the 18-hour days aren&8217;t a problem.&8221;