Black Bear Casino celebrates 20th anniversary with a piece of cakeGuests at Black Bear Casino and Resort entering the lobby Friday were greeted by a giant depiction of a black bear standing above a waterfall. A crew of people bustled around the base of the mountain in chef’s garb, the only indication that this wasn’t any old monument.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Duluth News Tribune
Guests at Black Bear Casino and Resort entering the lobby Friday were greeted by a giant depiction of a black bear standing above a waterfall. A crew of people bustled around the base of the mountain in chef’s garb, the only indication that this wasn’t any old monument.
“People think it’s a work of art or a sculpture, but it’s all edible, from top to bottom,” said Jeremy Schrupp, designer for How Sweet It Is Cakes.
The Duluth-based bakery has been working on the 12-foot-tall cake for weeks. Schrupp, owner Eileen Brown and four other employees were assembling the edible work of art Friday afternoon as part of Black Bear’s 20th anniversary celebration.
“We always run into little hiccups but we made it here in one piece and that’s the biggest part,” Brown said.
The cake was carted from downtown Duluth in three large pieces — two sections to make up the waterfall and then the 500-pound bear to place on top. Some wooden pieces inside the cake provide structural support and the bear’s face is foam, but everything else is edible. The cake is meant to honor the culture of the Lake Superior Chippewa who own the casino.
“We wanted to bring in things that are special to the tribe,” Brown said.
She created two new flavors for the cake: wild rice and cranberry and wild rice and maple. A backdrop depicting the view of Duluth from Interstate 35 just north of Esko was made of sheets of hardened sugar. Purple, blue and green swirled sugar sheets stood behind that, portraying the aurora borealis. The final touch was a speaker system in the base of the cake that will play music sacred to the Fond du Lac tribe.
“We wanted to bring in the tribal beat,” Schrupp said.
It’s a small miracle the cake was delivered without damage, he added. The crew called Duff Goldman, host of “Ace of Cakes” on the Food Network, for some advice before beginning the cake. None of them had experience with such a big project.
“What we were told is, ‘We would never take on a cake that big,’ ” Brown said. “I kind of laughed and said, ‘Well, we did, so, thanks for the advice.’ ”
The team wasn’t discouraged. Brown enlisted her husband, Bob, to make sure the cake would be structurally sound and Schrupp took over designing.
“We knew nothing about how to do this … this was all research,” Schrupp said.
In addition to the bear project, this is the bakery’s busiest season. Brown said she was also working on 15 cakes for weddings taking place today.
“Our business is still operating. Just because we take on a large project doesn’t mean it all stops,” Schrupp said.
To deliver their signature cakes, the crew has been working hard the last few weeks. On Friday, Schrupp estimated that many of them had already put in 80 hours since Monday.
“It’s not just a job for all of us, it’s a passion,” he said. “(Brown) is not just the owner, it’s her life.”
The cake will be on display at Black Bear until Monday, when casino staff will slice and serve it. How Sweet It Is Cakes also made 1,000 cupcakes for the event for the guests and employees that want to sample the new flavors before the cake is cut.
“I really, really wanted to show that you don’t have to get these cake masterpieces on the East Coast or West Coast, you can have them right here in Minnesota,” Schrupp said.