Johnson & Wales University partners with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to celebrate Charlotte’s 250th birthday

Johnson & Wales University students pose with their cakes.

One cake came decorated with a blue and purple Hornet. Another came sporting a bright red cardinal. One arrived with gold seemingly spilling out, and perhaps the most wondrous cake came topped with a Firebird statue replica.

Students at Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus created 15 cakes as part of their sophomore specialty cakes class with professor Schellie Andrews. The class typically requires the students to make a decorative cake for a wedding, anniversary or, perhaps, as was the case this year, a city’s 250th birthday.

Charlotte Center City Partners asked the school earlier in the year if the class could take on the task. Oh, and one more thing. Could it create a birthday cake to feed several hundred people as well?

Andrews jumped at the opportunity and made the cake the city of Charlotte used to feed 3,000 of the people who came to Trade and Tryon streets on Dec. 3, 2018, while the class created the decorative cakes for the Library.

After Charlotte celebrated its sestercentennial birthday on Dec. 3, 2018, the cakes traveled from the school’s Uptown campus to Library branches throughout the city. Then, after a two-week display, the cakes made their way to the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room at Main Library, where they’ll remain on display until the end of the calendar year.

The cakes, which are actually “Styrofoam dummies” with rolled fondant covering the cake and working as decoration, took each student about 12 hours to design and construct, and each represents a simple idea: What does Charlotte mean to you?

Amy Felder, Johnson & Wales University’s baking and pastry department chair was impressed with the wide array of cake designs.

“You can give an assignment and the same idea, and you come back with 20 different designs,” she said. “It’s amazing how creative the students are.”

While these particular cakes aren’t edible – Felder said the idea was to teach students how to extravagantly decorate rather than worry about the mechanics of baking a cake – doesn’t a library seem like an odd place to show a cake? “Not at all,” Felder said.

“When I think of the Library, I think of something touching the core of the community throughout the county, and,” Felder said, “what better place could there be?”

To see the cakes for yourself, visit Main Library, where the cakes will be on display in both the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room on the third floor and on the second floor through Dec. 31, 2018.