It was a cake fit for a king. King LeBron James that is, or was it?
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“This is turning into a cake war,” said pastry chef Alethea Hickman.
It’s a cake war-a battle at bakery-all over LeBron James’ birthday cake. Hickman said she designed a Heat-red cake with edible gold dust and an edible crown on top for James’ birthday party held New Year’s Eve.
Hickman, of Passion for Pastry in Boca Raton, said representatives from the Shelbourne Hotel in Miami Beach asked her to create a three-foot cake one day before the New Year’s Eve party.
Hickman said that in lieu of payment, she would get publicity for the cake and tickets to the party.
“So I jumped on it” she said. “I was so excited telling me the original person she has for the cake backed out and said, ‘Are you able to do this?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’d loved to’ and wouldn’t pass up that. I’m a Heat fan so I was honored to do it.”
So Hickman said she baked and baked for almost 24 hours before hand delivering the vanilla custard cake to the hotel.
But when she came back later that night her cake was missing in action.
“When I went into the dining room where I put the cake it wasn’t there and I was like I don’t get that. What’s up with that?” she said.
The next day the blogs were filled with James’ big birthday bash at SL nightclub, where he also proposed to longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson, but there was another cake stealing the spotlight. It was an ivory-colored rum cake with gold lion’s heads from Miami’s Divine Delicacies, a company that has made cakes for Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and James, among other celebs, in the past.
“Everything just sunk so I can’t believe this is happening,” Hickman said. “I don’t get it. I was totally betrayed. They dissed something that was not easy to come up with. It’s very traumatic. I’m an artist. That was a masterpiece to me.”
A spokesperson for the Shelbourne released a statement Wednesday saying, “The cake was very nice, however, LeBron’s team had also commissioned their preferred purveyor (Devine Delicacies) to create an over-the-top birthday cake; LeBron had no idea that there were two cakes.”
So it was clear James’ cake was the slam dunk, and Hickman’s cake was the rejection.
“Would you do it again?” CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo asked.
“Yes, without a second thought. I’m a big fan been my whole life,” Hickman said.
Hickman said she just wanted James to have his cake and eat it too.
The cake that was presented to James was from the same Miami bakery that did last year’s cake, Divine Delicacies.
The fondant-covered vanilla rum cake featured edible gold lions and was topped with James’ initials.
Divine Delicacies’ Laura Candeau tells the Miami New Times that as of the morning of Saturday’s party they hadn’t received an order, but she had extra cakes baked just in case.
“I knew he played on his birthday in Minnesota the day before and wasn’t at home to celebrate,” she says, “And I knew that if he was going to do a birthday affair he would have his team contact us for the cake. What the King wants he gets!”
There is an old axiom, that has nearly become accepted fact, that the richer you get, the more you tend to receive free things. All manner of swag, including suits, gift bags, German automobiles, or even a $3,000 birthday cake that you summarily reject without having to explain why. At least that’s the case so far, for LeBron James.
According to the Miami Herald, an area baker named Alethea Hickman was offered heaps of free publicity for designing a cake to be presented to James during his 27th birthday celebration at a Miami nightspot last week. A “sponsorship,” and no actual money, was the payoff according to party handler Jared Galbut.
Then the cake, and the communication between Hickman and Galbut, went a bit pear-shaped:
“I don’t even know where my cake went,” Hickman said. “I was mortified. They had me do it in the middle of the holiday crush and I hired additional people. Someone needs to pay.”
Galbut said James’ people decided Hickman’s work wasn’t fit for the king: “It just wasn’t what was expected. When LeBron’s people saw it, they just didn’t want to use it and decided to bring their own cake. I can’t tell LeBron James what birthday cake to eat. It’s LeBron James, for Christ’s sake.”
As for how much Galbut would pay Hickman if he were asked, he just said: “That cake couldn’t be worth more than $600. It’s flour, eggs and water.”
No, it’s not just “flour, eggs and water,” you idiot. It’s “workers, hours, wages, delivery, passed-over revenue streams that were let go so as to service James,” and also “things that go on and in a cake besides flour, eggs and water.”
With that in place, Hickman was probably way off in thinking that the possible publicity from her massive cake could more than make up for the money and effort her company put into creating the confection.
It seems like she was more than willing to allow for the loss of income just to be associated with a star; they have names for people who do these sorts of things, and we shouldn’t feel too bad when she was the one who signed off on giving a free birthday cake to LeBron in the first place. It’s not his fault he didn’t want to eat the thing, much less pay for it after she agreed to provide it pro bono.
All in all, another case of hopelessly entitled people (barely including James, who probably never even saw the cake) and their less-deserving-but-just-as-entitled handlers acting out of touch in an era that doesn’t really deserve that sort of disconnect. Marie Antoinette would be proud.
UPDATE – JAN 5 – 2011
As brought to our attention by http://www.opposingviews.com/i/sports/real-story-behind-lebron-birthday-cake-controversy
The cake was likely damaged after delivery
Judging from the looks of both cakes, in my honest opinion, the other cake (ivory colored) stands out more. I make cakes, so I know how much work goes into them. No doubt that you put your heart and soul into that cake, but the reality is, they did not like it and I can see why. Plus all the damage made it worse. A design should have been specified and agreed/approved by both parties. These people were looking for something that will blow everyone's mind, your cake was just not their choice to make that statement. From what I understand, you were not to be paid for this, so money should not be an issue. good luck to you..
The damage is not "slightly". it looks major.
Damaged cake or not if I had to choose I would select Divine Delicacies. And I agree that even if it were "Pro Bono" for publicity, that cake should have NEVER been started without some kind of binding, legal contract that stated the "what if's" so she could be paid something for her time "If in the event" a mis-hap occured. Though you can't see the future, I would have never just agreed to do something that massive without some paper being signed to cover myself and my employees, no matter WHO or HOW FAMOUS they were, everyone is still human and mistakes happen.
Have to agree with TsSweetPresentations. You can't just jump on something without having something in writing. She kind of shot herself in the foot. I would have went with the 2nd cake also. No one can present a damaged cake like that one.
I feel sorry Alethea Hickman. She really needed to get something in writing to ensure that she was compensated. This experience just goes to show the state of the human condition. Not so long ago, people could seal the deal with a handshake. Unfortunately that is not the case in today's litigious society.
I really prefer the cake from Divine Delicacies. While Alethea's is wonderful (before being damaged) it is not a show-stopper like the other cake. Size alone is a factor. Alethea has the skill, in my opinion she just didn't have the same vision and fore-thought of as Divine Delicacies.
IMHO they are both ugly, boring and kitsch, both almost seem like done by amateurs (not levelled, the 'lines' of filling are visible on some tiers, patterns not regular...). There are hundrends of much more talented people here on CC with excellent ideas and skills than in those two bakeries. I can understand it was a 'rush order'. But it would be great fun to let him have a party without a cake (haha) if they are not able to arrange everything in time and treat him just like everybody else. Sorry, don't know who King LeBron James is, probably some famous sportsman but really can't care less.
I dont understand why she is upset that he didnt pay for the cake. She even said it herself she was doing it for free to get publicity so she cant be mad if he didnt like the cake when she didnt even go over designs with his people that was her fault. She may have thought it was the best wrk she had ever done but you cant force someone to like a design that they didnt even agree on. Im my opinion her design wasnt even good plus it was damaged so how can she except that to be presented at the party. The 2nd cake was 1000% better than the 1st
Exactly, she volunteered to do it for free !! so why all of a sudden she wants payment ? Just because they did not choose her cake since it was not what they had in mind ? Free or not, put it in writing. .IMHO, that cake is not $3,000... everything is crooked. sorry.
I agree with Panel7124 I don't like either of them. You can tell more time went into Hickmans cake yet her design fell short, & clearly damaged even in the first picture ( she had to know it was damaged.) Devine Delicacies IMHO was not worth the spotlight. Sure the presentation faired better than Hickmans, but it looks like someones left over wedding cake with form molded lions slapped on front. It was not very personal, crooked lines, bulging layers. Again I'm no expert but IMO when your dealing with a celebrity Lebrons crew didn't do thier research.
i find the title of the article misleading. Why would Lebron be on the hook to pay for a cake he didn't order it or even know about . She should take it up with the hotel reps,and get something in writing next time.
She did the cake for free for publicity and its what she had, no?? if Lebron would had the cake on the party now we wouldn't be now talking about this and no one knew who made the cake so its perfect for her!!!! Also good for Divine who didnt want to show up and now everybody knows. Talking about the design I think that Hickman's design is too obvious and although these players like gold and sparkling the design was not too right for the ocassion. Also the cake shown on the picture of Divine is not the cake of the birthday party, I saw the pictures and was different, simple and really very nice!!!!
Actually that is the same cake. The only difference from this pic to their website pics our candles.
We all agree that it appears there was no written contract. A number of things can be said about that. 1) LeBron's people or the hotel avoided having to pay for a large cake in lieu of promised publicity to decorator. 2) It was assumed by both parties that Hickman's cake would be on display at the party. 3) She provided the cake, and although no guilty party has been identified for the damage at the venue, she held up her part of the agreement. If they didn't want to or couldn't display her cake, I believe they're still obligated to hold up their end of the agreement somehow. If they can't offer the promised publicity, then a mutually agreed upon compensation should be an alternative.
A written contract is best, but a verbal agreement should hold weight too. I think it comes down to doing the right thing and finding a mutually agreeable solution. If we look at the promised publicity as a tangible item, this "after shock" isn't the publicity that was agreed upon.
I am not impressed with the work on Althea's cake either. It is boring to say the least. But then the other cake to me looks like a wedding cake and nothing special for a birthday either.
Ok.....I'm very sorry that happened to you. No matter what went on it was your heart and soul that went into that cake. Now that being said the damage that shows on that cake ws obviously done after the delivery probably when they were stashing the cake. In my opinion your cake was not of the caliber that a $3000 cake should be. Thats a lot of money. Your detail work did not warrant that price tag. The selected cream cake had far more detail work and a far larger cake. Yes that cake would bring a $3000 price but even her cake was not what I call perfect by any means. There was a lot going on but her center cake was not smooth and she did not bother to trim the layers even nor dam up her filling hence the bulge....pretty unlikely for a higher end cake. Bottom line is ALWAYS have every thing in writing no matter who it is. Oh..... yes she was giving it pro bono but that was in trade for the publicity and photos she thought she would get in return as well as maybe new clients. She got nada because they did not use the cake so I understand her displeasure and aggravation but again NO PAPERWORK!! :(
I have a feeling that someone at the event damaged the cake since the photo taken at the bakery shows a perfect cake; so they called the other baker that they usually use to do an even more last minute cake. And yep if no contract signed and you verbally agree to do it gratis then just chalk it up to experience, and write it off on your taxes as a loss, move on and don't fall for doing free cakes for publicity again. It never works out for the vendor, and the rich get richer because you fed into their already inflated entitled ego by giving them an expensive item. I promise they are laughing at you all the way to the bank.
Live and learn Ms Hickman. Don't make free cakes for celebrity fat cats....they don't appreciate it!
Either someone damaged it after it was placed, or they were not impressed with it and were careless in the removal of it. I simply can't imagine that anyone would ever deliver a mess like that and just hope for the best. However, I am also not impressed with it. The only reason I can figure her $3,000 price tag is because she spent 24 hrs on a last minute order. We've all made mistakes I'm sure. Make it a lesson learned and move on.
I'm a little disappointed by the responses here. Everyone knows word of mouth and being known is the way to really make a business succeed. Where better to get known than a highly publicized event where other big name stars are celebrating the birthday of the cake recipient?
What this woman did here was not "pro bono" like I've seen it described above.
As an example, I model. Most of the work I do is "TF" known as "Trade For" which means I do not receive cash for my time. However, I receive positive word of mouth and networking opportunities, and a couple photos for my portfolio. Just like she did -- or should have.
While I'm underwhelmed by both cakes, I'm entirely on her side. She was told "we will display your cake and spread word of who you are" and what she got was no cake display, no careful handling of her cake (likely why it couldn't be displayed), and absolutely no mention for her work. Now she's being played as being petulant because she expects another means of compensation as they did not follow through on the first arrangement.
What this woman did was trade time and effort for exposure -- she didn't do this cake for free. Now that she didn't get exposure, she deserves money. LeBron James hired his handlers to act as his intermediaries so yes, he IS on the line for their mistakes.
If we all agreed with you, then we won;t be here talking about this. Sorry you do not like our responses, but those are our thoughts and opinion. You are not obligated to agree with us, like wise we are not obligated to agree with you.. To each its own feelings and opnion as long as it is said in a civilized way.
Not to be the devil's advocate, but who says the pictures of the damaged cake were how it looked when it was delivered? They could be the pictures of the cake when they finally found it after the event, where it was probably shoved into some corner. Who knows? The cake might have been in perfect state when it was delivered, no? I mean, I'm tired of seeing pictures being used out of context, trying to prove a point. Oh, and I'm really annoyed at the answer they gave on how much a cake like that can cost already...what an idiot..
If the goal was "publicity", that was certainly achieved here! Always use a contract .... :)
The facts are probably a bit distorted here. Lebron James did not hire the baker, the venue did and a cake was possibly included in the location booking fee. Lebron's people paid for his party including this cake (usully a small amount) but ordered an additional cake at his expense as he was not happy with the cake from the venue or just wanted a cake from a baker he knows and likes. The vendor offered her promotional considerations in exchange for the cake, and she accepted the terms.
Totally unfair to blame Lebron James for this. This is not unusual in Miami, you rent a location ( wedding, Quinces, Anniv., Etc.) and a cake is part of the catering package for a nominal fee. I have made many cakes for parties that had both the catering package cake for 200 or however many guests and a small personal cake of my creation. This cannot be unique to South Florida.
I feel terrible for the baker but it's important to place blame where it is due. Leave King James out of it.
Ok these "update" photos have me even more upset then the original article! I work in kitchens, and I can tell you that cake was most likely put into an incredibly humid walk in fridge which clearly destroyed the fondant. For some reason no cook on earth understands how humidity affects baked goods, moreover they're stubborn about heading a bakers advice. I have seen many projects that took hours or days ruined by cooks that don't respect the quirkiness of baked goods. Moreover, they never, never, never own up to it. What we see here is someone's idea making the company who did not hold up their end of the deal look good at the expense of the baker.
Furthermore, I cannot believe any baker would leave a cake in that condition and call it a day.
While I must agree with many posts, that perhaps the scale was not grand enough for the occasion, that's something that misses the point. If they had something specific in mind, they should've said so to our baker, so that she could have imagined her cake design around those perimeters, and a drawing should have been approved before moving forward with production.
Lastly, the idea that someone should work for free is just silly! You should always be compensated for your time and you should always have this in writing, ALWAYS.
Although Ms Hickman's cake did involve a lot of time and her dedication to making what she felt was a well designed cake; Knowing the hours it takes to complete a cake of this size,is disappointing that she felt she needed the advertising from lebron james' name as an asset to her business.If the cake was truly worth $3000.00 or $300.00 it's just not good policy to give someone like James a price break.Would she be as inclined to give( Ms Jones) that same price break without big name recognition.(advertising would probably go a lot further)How silly can someone be to think that your time and knowledge should not be compensated.Always have a contract with a deposit.
ok so i'm just catching up on all the updates but the articles CLEARLY state that 2 different groups ordered the cakes. Passion for pastry was contacted but reps from the hotel while Divine Delicacies what hired buy the team. so if she really has an issue she should take it up with them. Lebron didn't order the cake so why should he pay for it? it seems to me like there was a communication issue between the team and the hotel. If Divine Delicacies makes all the cakes for the team's events why wouldn't they make this one?
They did not like the cake when they saw it... why force it down their throats ? That is why, it boils down to, sit down and lay out a plan, a sketch and a contract.
I was thinking the right thing for his team who planned it knowing that they ordered 2 cakes was to plan on paying the persons cake they didn't like. That would have been the right thing to do. whether there was a contract or not, its called having ethics. I understand they liked the other one better but its wrong they way everyone is dealing with it.
Looking at both sides and the cakes, I would have to say neither of them was as awesome as people are saying they are. As for the damaged one, who actually damaged the cake? Also, Hickman should have had some kind of written contract. That edible gold is way to expensive by the ounce to be giving it away, no matter what person it is. They can afford to pay for a cake for God's sake! Rememeber they are human....not GODS! They make mistakes or are sometimes dishonest , or they have dishonest people working for them. Contract, Contract, Contract people!
The agreement wasn't that she would do it for free. She wanted compensation for the cake. However, instead of money she was getting publicity. Since that publicity was denied to her she deserves alternate compensation!
Really lady , you are complaining ? This cake looks terrible !
I feel badly for the first cake. How come it wasn't repaired on sight if they saw it was damaged? Also, as elaborate and finely detailed as the second cake may be, on such short notice, I don't see how they could've pulled it all off in time, unless they had all the elements premade and the cake was basically almost completed before they were asked to do one. Which brings to mind, sabotage.
I agree with dabratt9, that is a lot of work to pull off in 24 hours and you just happen to have that many cakes extra? Sounds like someone knew someone and pulled some strings. Not that either cake is bad, but the second doesn't strike me as a Birthday cake for a star Basketball player, to feminine.
wow, both cakes are a little - well - not so great. the red one is sorry but 'YUCK' I am NOT in anyway seeing $3000 let along $1000. No way!. and the other one, although it looks alot better at first glance, has a lot of flaws as well. I do understand that last minute rushing makes it hard to do, but..................... woooooo....................
Either way... the time, money and heart someone puts into a cake, to be tossed out without a thank you or respect for the cake (if damaged after the delivery) is a terrible thing for anyone to do..Famous or not, that is wrong!
The thank you she is asking for is a $3,000 check, which was not agreed upon when she agreed to make the cake. for FREE, F R E E !!
I am nothing fancy as a cake decorator. But that looks like me making a cake for LB. Someone who has only been doing it for a year. But she is still getting publicity here. Personally I don't care for either cake....Hopefully the king did.
All I can say is at least she tried. I would tell her use that same design but a lil better for anyone else wanting a 'out of this world cake' and get everything in hand writing.
All I can say is for any x or y person this cake was made this price is not the price for that cake ,is overprice $3000 dlls is too much, even with all the efforts, I think she wants to take advantage of this situation ,because first it was for free now is $3000 dlls next time make a contract and you can demand your money now too late. I've seen better cake decorators than this lady in this website.
It seems to me by now she has gotten more publicity than she would have had the cake actually been served, and is probably getting more extra business out of sympathy than she would have gotten as the result of having served a prestigious client.
Yet another reason celebrities get me...and not just them personally...but what they do to other people as well. Such hooplah over these people....yes they are just PEOPLE!!!! I work a hell of a lot harder for a hell of a lot less money, most people do. I agree that the cake is not a $3k cake...and it could have been more polished, but considering the notice, it's a darn good cake. Kudos to her for pulling it off. And there is no way I'd believe she delivered the cake in that condition. Her cake was no doubt pushed to the side and damaged after the fact. On a side note, the "chosen" cake is full of flaws and that exceptionally uneven diamond design is enough to make any perfectionist go insane. And I'd chalk it up to lack of time as well, but I looked at their website and specifically the gallery of celebrity cakes, and many of them are very unpolished. And for the publicity they are getting...they should be perfect...and some of these look almost amateur. Lots of bling, which may be what these celebs like, but I've seen way nicer cakes done for average people. The piping is the best thing on the cake...the lions are just molds...my 12 year old can do those. I'm glad the first cake is getting publicity after all...no one deserves to be tossed aside like that. Though I don't think Lebron is the one who should be compensating her...though him acknowledging what a fan did for him on such short notice would be proper. After all, without his fans...his birthday would be just another party.
DIVINE DELACIES may have produced a flashier cake, but I'm speaking from first hand experience, they are ethically and morally corrupt. In October of 2011, I found that they stolen one of my photos and were posting it on their webpage, as their own work. I'm not a professional cake decorator, I'm a stay at home mom and I make cakes for free, and for fun. Laura Candeau all but threatened me with legal action until I offered photos to prove that the snowflake wedding cake on their webpage is actually my work, and I would be happy to show photos of the cake in progress, from start to finish, to anyone who was willing to look at them. At that point, she offered up lame excuses as to why there were dozens of photos of cakes from other cake artists on her webpage... It took several weeks to get them to remove my photo, but even after removing my photo, other photos remained on their webpage that weren't their work! DIVINE DELICASIES IS THE REASON WHY CAKE ARTISTS should always WATER MARK photos!!
I really don't love either one. I would have prefered the Ivory cake also, not too crazy about it but looked better. Next time they should contact Edna de la Cruz! :-)
There was not 3,000 worth of work in that cake!! She is getting what she wants because it is being discussed everywhere!
I agree w/panel7124... And that cake its not $3000.00 she is crazy..sorry but for a good baker need good hands and good eyes
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