Jasmine Rae De Lung
Photography by Josh Gruetzmacher | Interviewed by Chandara K. Phanachone
Breathtaking may be an understatement when it comes to the depth of artistry that comes from admiring a Jasmine Rae De Lung cake creation. Her artfully crafted and constructed tiers are nothing short of a confectionery masterpiece, evoking a deep reverence for the effects of time.
A self-taught baker and cake artist by trade with over a decade of experience in the industry, De Lung has amassed an Instagram following of nearly 100K, and from scrolling through her social media feed, it’s pretty easy to understand why her work has graced the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. We decided it was time for us to find out for ourselves and take a moment to chat with the masterful cake artist as she readies herself for another busy day in her eponymous San Francisco bakery.
Before there was Jasmine De Lung the master cake artist, can you share with us a bit about your background? I was born and raised in San Francisco and as a child, I always dreamt that I would become an artist or architect. I attended the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts for Visual Arts and was deeply involved with an after school program called San Francisco Art & Film, that exposed me to contemporary art, galleries, independent films, film-making, and even two trips to Europe to study their art history. I can still see the influence of these experiences in my work today.
Have you always been intrigued by art and if so, what was your first memory of cake art? As a child, I remember my babysitter giving me some Sunset Magazine cookbooks, featuring some garish buttercream-piped wedding cakes. I thought they were beautiful and dreamed to one day make something like that…but I didn’t ever intend it to be my profession. After high school, I never studied art collegiately, instead turning my University studies to cognitive science, linguistics, and film. Upon graduation, I was ready to return to art, and my budding entrepreneurial spirit prompted me to start a mural-painting business with my best friend, who had just graduated from Rhode Island School of Design. When we dissolved the mural-painting business, I wandered until I had the opportunity to start a bakery. I had more fun designing the brand and the unusual flavors than I did actually making the cookies and quickbreads. It all soon turned to cakes, where my artistic skills could be expressed.
Who helped nurture your artistic endeavors? Many people along the way, but I have to give the biggest acknowledgement to my mom! She was so great and amazingly supportive—she literally would come to my bakery and wash dishes for me (quite honestly, she was my very first employee)…for the first few years! As my business matured and I was able to hire people to help me, she continues to support me by caring for my son…and of course, words of encouragement and unconditional love.
Can you share with us something that intrigues you about the world of cake artistry? Because I mostly make wedding cakes, my art is inextricably linked with my role as a wedding vendor, which is a role I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to support this couple, their intention to marry, the experience of their guests/community, the stresses and efforts of wedding-planning, as well as the rest of the vendor team. The cake is a unique art piece, commissioned to anchor the design and sentiment of a wedding celebration, so I believe my art must find overlap with the couple’s identity in order to be truly authentic to the moment. When I meet with my clients, we will use inspirational imagery, but we talk more about the feelings of the design, the emotions they expect for their wedding day, and any symbols that are meaningful for them…more so than just visual design elements. And then, if I’m doing it ‘right,’ I surrender to the magic of the organic process. Cake artistry, as a field, is an interesting tension between the rigidity of deadlines and the flow of relational expressions. It’s like a bit of a crackle effect.
“To this day, the cornerstone of my technique is forming a relationship between the material that I am working with and its natural response to the environment,” says Jasmine.
Read more in Issue 06