Cake as art

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Baker Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop
in Lakewood, Colorado, September 21, 2017
Photo by Rick Wilking/Reuters

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the case involving a Colorado baker named Jack Phillips who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, citing religious objections.

Phillips, jokingly referred to by a commentator as the "Bernini of buttercream," says that being forced to make these men a wedding cake violates his right to free speech. The couple claims it's discrimination. Phillips also refuses to make cakes for Halloween.

But can you be a cake "artist" if you limit your clientele? And are you an artist if you stick with traditional wedding cake designs like the three-tiered layer cake with white frosting and sugar flowers?

DnA gets some insights from LA-based cake-makers Clémence Gossett and Kody Christiansen.

Gossett says that "anybody who works in food is really working from their soul and creating something out of nothing. And deciding who can consume it and who can appreciate your art doesn't really fall into the ethos of art."

Kody Christiansen manages the Cake and Art bakery in West Hollywood and delivered the cake to the first gay wedding to be celebrated in California in 2008.

He talk about the ethics and artistry of cake making, and describes the decorated layer and sculptural cakes his bakery has created for Jackass, Jessica Biel, Hugh Hefner and the Getty Center.

He says, "If you consider yourself a master artist or an artist in general your mind should be open to all sorts of beauty. Your job is to make cakes and it's to make beautiful cakes and to make the person on the other side of the counter happy."