From BET Network's Weekend Magazine, January 2000'

For most bakers, a little sugar, flour, butter and milk make a cake, But for Charmaine Jones, they make works of art. The self-described "Cake Diva" whips lifelike flowers, mud cloth or haunted houses from butter cream, fondant and sugar paste.

Although her specialty is multi-tiered Afroncentric wedding cakes with sugar cowry shells and chocolate and vanilla mud cloth, her repertoire is outrageous - just like the company's name, Isn't That Special Outrageous Cakes at her gallery in Hoboken, N.J. ( or 201-216-0123).

"Every cake I do has to be better than the last," Jones says. "A cake with roses, I make them look as if the roses are breathing." Her talent comes from her mother, an exacting French pastry baker in her hometown of Gary, Indiana. And father, an artist and architect. But she never thought baking was her destiny. With a master's degree in fine art, Jones modeled for 10 years and composed music for commercials, TV and films. After creating a cake for a friend's child who was allergic to flour, word-of-mouth orders came in.

Her first "outrageous" cakes was eight-feet-by-four feet with six tiers. The potently rich Jamaican black cake at the top had a slave ship with chocolate slaves and licorice oars. It was created for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. For the opening of Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas, she made a four-tiered with a water-filled aquarium and real fish. Jones has also created edible corsages for one wedding, as wedding cakes for "One Life to Live" and "All My Children".

"I make the cake as dramatic as the clients let me," Jones says. Such artistry doesn't come cheap: a cake that feeds 30 starts at $200. But it's worth it, says Melvin Williams, a New York lawyer, who ordered a lilac cake with a music box inside since his mother collects them. "It was nothing short of fantastic," he says. "My mother didn't eat the cake right away. She said "It was too beautiful."

"I want people to cry with being overjoyed," Jones says. " I do everything to make their sweet dreams come true."
-- Ingrid Sturgis.

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