The cake above was made specifically to welcome NBA star Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks two seasons ago. Regardless of if you’re a sports fan or not, you have to admire every little detail and sheer beauty of the cake. We reached out to Thiago Silva (@TagosCakes), the man behind the cake and many other stunning cakes to learn more about him.
FP: How did you get your start with creating such amazing cakes? When did you decide you wanted to be a pastry chef? What do you enjoy most about being one?
TS: I began making cakes by accident back in ’98 when I was thirteen years old. My mom wanted to start decorating cakes, so she signed up for a class. She asked me to tag along and translate for her. Next thing I know, I am asking her to enroll me in the class. I loved it right away, and began making cakes from home.
Having started baking cakes at thirteen you would figure that I always wanted to be a pastry chef right? WRONG! I really wanted to be a savory chef. I tried to find a job as a savory cook, and was never able to find one, but there always seemed to be a pastry position available. I took a pastry position and never looked back. There are many things I enjoy about my job and one that sticks out is being able to create and bring back memories. It’s an awesome feeling!
FP: We’re really glad (along with many others) that you accompanied your mom to the cake decorating class all those years ago.
Name some chefs that have inspired you.
TS: Pastry Chef Alfred Stephens (C-CAP alum)- He was the first pastry chef that I worked under in a restaurant. I always say he was my pastry teacher/mentor. I started working in restaurants right out of high school and was not able to go to a culinary school. So in many ways working under Chef Al for three years was my education.
Chef Terry Matsis- He was my high school culinary teacher. I really don’t think I would be where I am today if it wasn’t for the time I spent learning from him. I don’t even think he knows how much of an impact he has on his students. The main things I learned from him are hard work and dedication.
Chef MOM- No one makes you a better meal than your mom. What’s more comforting than moms cooking? What’s their secret? Love and care, if you don’t cook with those two ingredients, get out of the kitchen lol.
FP: Recently, we’ve learned a lot about C-CAP and its influence on aspiring chefs. Please share with us your experience and involvement with C-CAP.
TS: My experience with C-CAP was a little different than most, but I think it showcases how great of an organization it is. I was introduced to C-CAP in high school, and entered the competitions for the scholarships. I didn’t have the greatest grades through high school. In fact I barely graduated, so I was not able to get a scholarship.
However, C-CAP helped me with my first restaurant job with Chef Al at Todd English’s Olives. They have set me up with internships, and still check up on me today. Mr. Richard Grausman (founder of C-CAP) could have just turned his back on me and said, “Your grades are awful, sorry,” but instead he said “We see so much potential in you, what can we do to help?” That meant a lot to me. They are a special organization and have had a huge influence on my career.
FP: We’ve heard nothing but great things about C-CAP!
When you’re not making cakes, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself or for guests?
TS: CHURRASCO!! For those of you who are not Brasilian that means BBQ! There is nothing I like doing more then getting family and friends together for some BBQ! And yes I do the grilling 🙂 (Please no hamburger and hot dogs, I’m talking STEAK!!)
FP: We definitely enjoy some BBQ…you can grill for us anytime!
If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in NYC or other cities you’ve visited.
TS: One of my favorite spots is Strand Bistro at Strand Hotel. Chef Kelvin Fernandez is not only a great friend, and a great chef, he is also a C-CAP alum. I’ve been there for dinner several times, and have yet to be disappointed. He has made one of my favorite dishes ever, the “Chilled corn soup”, which is simply amazing. He also always adjusts his menu for my wife (who is not a foodie) and is the only chef to this date that was able to make her eat scallops. The crazy thing is that Chef Kelvin is allergic to scallops and can’t even taste them!
My favorite dessert spot in NY is…… ummmm……let me see………Catch! 😉
FP: We will definitely add Strand Bistro and Catch to our list of places to visit!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
TS: I like to start my day right with a breakfast of champions…fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and a glass of milk! Best breakfast ever and definitely my foodie pleasure. On the savory side, I do love me some Foie Gras!
FP: Can’t go wrong with cookies and a glass of milk! Definitely one of our foodie pleasures for sure.
Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
TS: This might surprise you but I’m a huge sports fan, so I would have Pele (best soccer player EVER), Derek Jeter, and Eli Manning, some of my favorite athletes. We would have Churrasco and I would make a crazy cake of course.
FP: That’s great company for sure!
In three words, how would your friends and family describe you.
TS: Humble, talented, hardworking
FP: If you hadn’t become a pastry chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies? We read that you’ve sung at the New York City Opera House?
TS: I did sing at New York City Opera house, it was an amazing experience! If I were not a pastry chef I would be working hard to be in the music scene somehow. I still sing every week at church as music and worship is a huge part of my life.
FP: We see that you’re a man of many talents! Thank you so much for your time. We wish you continued success at Catch and all your future endeavors!
Thiago Silva is currently the Pastry Chef at Catch so make to check him out there. For more information on Thiago, visit his website http://t-agoscakes.com/