Raven “Cake Man” Dennis III discovered his calling at the age of 13 when a teacher bought two coconut pies Raven had made in his grandmother’s kitchen for the sum of five dollars. He soldiered on, and soon he earned the nickname that he still goes by today: “Cake Man Raven.”
As a JWU student, even a rigorous class schedule weren’t enough to keep Raven from baking. Between classes and work, he crafted cakes, pies and confections from his tiny apartment and sold them to a loyal and growing stable of customers, all of which had heard of him through word of mouth. Raven’s talents weren’t limited to pastry arts, either, as he also became proficient as an ice artist, with his sculptures featured at the Grammy Awards and famous restaurants across the country.
In 2000, Raven returned home to New York, and opened a bakery in Brooklyn. There, he baked both traditional cakes and more fantastic creations, including detailed replicas of the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. When CBS News arrived on his doorstep to compose a story about a Southern Red Velvet cake that Raven had created, it made him a overnight star. In short time, he was known in the media as "the baker to the rich and famous" — the man who made the beautiful, fun, fantastic confections for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Ella Fitzgerald, Katie Couric, and Robert DeNiro.
Still, the "Cake Man" hasn't lost sight of his roots. He still makes coconut pies, using his grandmother's recipe, just like the first ones he sold as a youngster. Though he now charges a bit more than the five dollars he received for his original creations, they remain a sweet reminder of his humble beginnings, and the grandmother who taught him to put passion and love into his craft.