We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Cannizzaro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Far and away the most important factor behind any success I’ve encountered has been wholly due to my husband. He is the one who fostered my passion for baking and cake design in the early exhaustive evenings where I worked tirelessly in the kitchen after coming home from a grueling day at the office. He encouraged me to leave a high paying career in order to pursue something that I loved, and he has been on this journey with me every step of the way. Matthew designed the website, drew our logo, takes all of our photos, transformed his office into a custom studio for me and watches our two young boys while I work. When disaster strikes, he’s the one who starts the coffee, tells me I can do it, and stays up with me all night. When it’s done he’s the one I toast with a victory shot. Honey and Ry is truly a team endeavor. Honestly, I get to create because he does all the hard stuff.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My background seems initially to be as sporadic at the Colorado weather but eventually I found my spot of sun.
I grew up an absolute science nerd, while simultaneously harboring a deep love of art. I explored both disciplines and eventually decided to pursue a career in Chemical Engineering. I attended the Colorado School of Mines and was head over heels for chemistry, however I still yearned for my art fix. At the time, CSM didn’t offer art classes so I decided to pursue a summer job working at a lab on campus while I enrolled in summer art classes at the local community college Redrocks. This trend continued until I graduated. So while my passion for chemistry and food science developed with my work in the lab, my love of art, particularly drawing and painting, thrived as well. At some point it clicked that I could use my chemical engineering background to optimize my baking hobby and that beyond that, I could employ my art background to make my desserts especially suited to the whims and fancies of my clients.
This conclusion took me some time to happen upon, however. After graduation I entered the workforce and found myself staring down a computer for longer then I had the endurance for and in the evenings my husband would read to me as I unwound by decorating cupcakes and practicing piping buttercream flowers. I would send my experimental desserts with Matthew to take to the office and soon my husbands coworkers were reaching out to see if I was available to cater different events.
I began spending more time experimenting with different mediums, and found that I loved working with royal icing, gumpaste and wafer paper to create delicate sugar berries, foliage, flowers and lace designs. I would pick flowers on my walks and bring them home to study and recreate them in sugar and then play with muted and whimsical color palates to bring them to life. I started hand painting macaroons and piping intricate designs on sugar cookies. Cake pops were adorned with bronze autumn sugar leaves, gold tipped feathers, and whimsical flowers. As I gained more experience, the requests from people shifted towards celebration and wedding cakes.
At that point, Matthew encouraged me to take the leap from my job as an environmental engineer to a small business owner and I did, but only because I knew he could catch me if I fell (or perform mouth to mouth to resuscitation if necessary!) It has been a challenging but rewarding journey. The Colorado Cottage Food Act has allowed me stay at home with my two boys, now 2 and 4 years old, while continuing to bake and design desserts which has been really special. But as anyone with rambunctious littles underfoot can relate to, time can be sparse between snack time, bath time, story time and park dates and I’ve had to learn how to balance the amount of jobs I can take as a result of that.
I am still learning and experimenting, stumbling and getting back up and it has all been so worthwhile. The greatest joy is seeing the smile on a clients face. I have the opportunity to design a dessert with individualized flavors, and then to decorate it with personal touches and lastly to see the surprise and joy spread across a clients face and that means the world.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Wow, I moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering in 2017, became immediately enchanted with my surroundings and never left. For the most lovely morning I would recommend a brunch at Mercantile in Denver followed by an unhurried exploration of The Tattered Cover bookstore. Be sure to engage the incredible staff who are always happy to point you in the direction of your next favorite read.
A day perusing the streets of Boulders Pearl Street, beginning with a deeply rich caramelized and rum heavy canelé at The Kitchen and a decadent hot chocolate milkshake at Peace Love and Chocolate after you’ve taken in the many lovely art galleries residing in between them can’t be beat. The next day, trade in your shoes for hiking boots and head to Chautauqua park to take in the beautiful Flatiron mountains. For those who really enjoy hiking and camping, my family always look forward to our annual trip to Palisade where we revel in the joy of the local apple festival and appreciate the loop of Colorado Wineries where you will also find a welcoming black sheep farm.
If you are fortunate enough to be here in the summer then morning yoga at Redrocks is a perfect start to the day and if you can catch a concert there then you will never forget it. And if you have children (or if you don’t!) definitely check out Film on the Rocks. Pack popcorn, snacks, a blanket and be ready for an amazing night under the stars.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My success is due first to my incredible partner and husband, Matthew who inspires, encourages, and is always ready to fix espressos and pull an all nighter with me when I’m on the verge of a meltdown. In addition to all the help I receive from Matthew, I also owe a huge thank you to my wonderful in-laws, Laurie and Richard who watch and love my littles while I work.
Next I would thank my school, the Colorado School of Mines, which I attended in pursuit of a Chemical Engineering degree but where I ending up leaving with so much more. From CSM I was able to gain hands-on experience working in a lab baking fuel cell membranes which instilled in me a fervent belief in experimentation, documentation and precise measurements and recordings. I have always loved chemistry and baking, but it wasn’t until I joined the American Chemical Society at the urging of my mentor and professor Dr. Andy Herring and started reading and watching food science articles and presentations that I saw that there was a perfect space for me in their overlapping Venn diagram.
The summer of my senior year in high school I was fortunate enough to attend the Oklahoma Art Institute which was an incredible experience that solidified my love of drawing and painting and I’m very thankful everything I learned there.
My love of science was derived from my dad who also encouraged my passion for art (and who has chauffeured me to innumerable art museums and art stores), and my love of baking from my mother and older sister, Jennifer (who still bakes the best bread I’ve ever had). Now I’m able to take my chemistry and art background into the kitchen in order to create my own custom desserts.
Much thanks and love to Matthew Cannizzaro for his beautiful photography (and a million other wonderful things)