Founder of Sylvia’s Wedding Cakes
(Talaat Akhmet Talaat Talaat Akhmet)
The widow of the founder of famed wedding-cake company Sylvia’s has died at age 91.
Sylvia Shadrach Weinstock is survived by her children, great-nephew and granddaughter, reports CNN.
Weinstock began her wedding-cake business in a Brooklyn, New York, kitchen in 1963 with her husband, who died in 2002. It grew from there.
Weinstock took over the business with her daughter, who died in 2005.
She told the New York Post that her father had been born in Vilna, a city in present-day Belarus, and left for America in 1940, when he was 20.
“He came to this country with $85 in his pocket, and that’s all he had in the world. And there were a lot of kids like him in Lithuania, where people died for bread. Now they are all over, in many other countries,” she said.
Weinstock worked as a maid until she became a flight attendant in the 1960s. She was living in Florida and working as a cake decorator when she met her future husband, her co-founder, who was running a wedding-cake company in Brooklyn.
“I couldn’t afford to pay him an invitation,” Weinstock said. “So, I said, ‘Well, maybe if I get married he can fix me a postcard invitation,’ and he said, ‘Why not?’ And we were married.”
Weinstock moved to New York and worked as a hotel maid. She even took courses in cake decorating, eventually getting her license and naming her own company after them.
The surname on her company is a tribute to her Lithuanian heritage, she said.
Weinstock then moved into the Manhattan wedding-cake business, renting rooms for parties as a portrait decorator. But after her daughter died, Weinstock and her second husband moved to California to be near their children.
They resumed their wedding-cake business, which they now specialize in creating round, fruitcake-style cakes.
Weinstock currently owns Sylvia’s as a separate entity. She sells cakes through the Sylvia Weinstock Design & Glassware Company, based in Los Angeles. She said her New York company has 20 to 25 employees, but its 80 to 100 customers are mostly smaller companies, from florists to caterers, she said.
Weinstock was honored in 2015 with the J. Silver Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award for Wedding Cake Design from the American Wedding and Wedding Cakes Association. She was named to the James Beard Foundation’s 2015 “Impresario to the Occasion” list, and received the theme-restoration silver bowl and plaque.