He Takes the Cake

Wally Mejía designed his first wedding cake for a friend in 1989. It was a five-tiered butter-pecan-creme-filled extravaganza adorned with intricate scrollwork that imitated the architectural treatments he’d admired in France the year before, when he took a pastrymaking course at the Cordon Bleu. “The guests surrounded it and took pictures,” he recalls. “It was really embarrassing because they were sort of ignoring the bride.” Today fifty-year-old Mejía is still only a sometime cakemaker—by day he teaches high school English in Edinburg—but he has garnered regional renown for creating confectionery masterpieces that are devoured at tony wedding receptions from Del Rio to Dallas. He accepts about fifty orders a year, most of them during the summer wedding season, when he’s booked every Saturday. His grateful clients pay up to $500 for an edible original concocted in his tiny gourmet kitchen, which overflows with stainless-steel appliances, vanilla extract, and enough powdered sugar to cover a ski slope. “I find it to be a wonderful form of expression,” he says, gazing at a tangle of cake pans suspended from the ceiling. “What started as a hobby has swallowed me up.”

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