Y'all Need Cake
A Lake Country cake designer is top winner of Food Network’s Wedding Cake Championships
Celebrity cake designer and television personality Reva Alexander-Hawk is putting down new roots in Georgia’s Lake Country, establishing a home base location from which she will expand her teaching efforts and share her love of sweet treats with people from near and far.
Reva moved to Eatonton two years ago after her parents retired to Lake Oconee and her sister relocated shortly after.
“I was like, well I guess it is my turn to move out there because I can do what I do anywhere,” says Reva. “People need cakes no matter where I am at. Now I can be with my family and make cakes.”
Reva’s love for baking began as a child. She was always the go-to person in her family for making all the sweets for the holidays and eventually began making gift baskets. Her other love was, and still is, singing.
“I thought, okay, if I want to be a singer I have to have something else to do, so I really liked sugar and sweets,” Reva says. “So I will go to school and be a pastry chef because I can work anywhere in the world making desserts and then try to sing and get gigs places. I thought that is the perfect solution, I will make cakes and sing.”
But then, Reva ended up just making cakes, putting her singing career on the back burner.
She attended The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. In 2000, she graduated from the school’s baking and pastry program and started making cakes independently in 2002. She has been creating cakes ever since.
During her time in California, Reva was contacted by Food Network to participate in various competition style baking shows. Over the years, Reva has been a contestant on three episodes of Cake Wars. She won two episodes of them, Wonder Woman and Hello Kitty.
Later, she was on the special Halloween Wars: Hayride of Horrors. Most recently, Reva won Food Network’s Wedding Cake Championships.
“Now Eatonton, Georgia, has the wedding cake champion, so that is kind of cool,” Reva declares.
“It’s fun,” she continues. “It’s very challenging. You have a time limit and you have a lot that you have to get done in that certain amount of time. It takes a special person, someone who is crazy enough to say, ‘sure, I’ll do that.’ It’s like running a marathon.”
When she first moved to Eatonton, Reva didn’t know many people other than her family. A friend of her mother’s suggested she join the Reynolds Choir. Apprehensive, Reva attended a practice and later auditioned for the group. Next, she joined her church choir and then the Greensboro Chamber Choir.
“It, for me, was a way to meet people in the area and get to know people and then also for them to get to know me,” Reva explains. “Of course I would bring sweet treats and then they would find out, ‘oh gosh, you make cakes’ or ‘oh, you’re going to be on TV.’ I kind of kept that on the down low when I first moved here. It was just like, ‘oh I am Reva, I happen to make cakes and, oh yeah, I am going to be on TV this week.’ I don’t like to make it a big deal.”
For the past two years, Reva has been trying to decide exactly what she wants to do. When I entered her latest venture, a shop located behind Sweet Kneads, I found Reva decorating Christmas cookies at a large baking island. Two cell phones and lighting equipment were set up capturing her hands as she decorated the stocking-shaped cookies. “I do a lot of social media stuff so I decided, okay I am just going to concentrate on my teaching and then still do cakes on the side,” Reva says.
Her new little place will be a small baking school where she will do online tutorials and give enthusiasts a hands-on experience.
“It’s just a place to learn and have fun,” Reva says.
Reva began renting the shop in October 2018 and spent several months transforming it into her business, Merci Beaucoup Cakes. The first step in the transformation was painting the quaint shop and then getting in the kitchen appliances. The classes that she offers can be found on her company’s website or Facebook page.
“I have been fortunate enough to travel the country and actually internationally, teaching cake decorating and cookie decorating,” Reva says. “So, instead of traveling everywhere to do that, I am going to make people come to me, and what a wonderful place to make them come to me at. You have the lake here, so during the summer when it’s hot outside, you can come into a nice air conditioned place and learn how to make sugar flowers, decorate cookies and cakes, anything that has to do with sweets.”
Reva will continue to travel and teach. In fact, she had just returned from England when I stopped in her shop in November. She will also take special orders for cakes and cookies, as people hear about her by word of mouth. Reva’s favorite cakes to make are either really big cakes or one little one. She’s not a fan of the in-between stuff. Perhaps best known for her buttercream work and making buttercream florals, Reva loves to make colorful fun cakes where she can display her lively personality.
Reva isn’t done with television yet. She has chosen to invest the money she won on Wedding Cake Championships into creating a show called Back Roads Baker. The series will begin on YouTube as she and her team look for funding and try to sell it to a network.
On Back Roads Baker, Reva will travel to different bakeries in the Southeast and talk to them about their baking process. She’ll glean tips from the bakers and then bring them back to her kitchen and create something with the skills she learned. Reva describes the show as being like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives meets American Pickers.
“It’s kind of weird,” she says. “I am out here; I sing in the choirs; I make cakes, and then I do TV. It’s like this weird vortex of Reva.”
This article, by Leila Scoggins, appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Lakelife.