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This Self-Taught Chef Bakes Up Some of L.A.’s Most Jaw-Dropping Cakes

Baking is probably one of the most difficult methods of cooking to get right in the world of food. One has to nail the precise measurements, technique, and temperature in order to get everything perfect.

Self-taught baker Mae-Lan Mejia of Clifton’s Republic is known for her extremely intricate and visually stunning cakes and baked goods. The historic restaurant and multilevel event space features many of Mejia’s designs on the cafeteria floor, front and center for all to see her baking wizardry.

At the entrance of Clifton’s cafeteria are dozens of whimsical cakes, created by Mejia and her crew. This visual spread includes a massive great white shark, and equally realistic sea turtles, penguins, polar bears, and dinosaur cakes.

Upon observing the marvelous details of her designs, one would think Mejia underwent years of professional training to reach the level of cake design she’s at today. But the fact that she’s fully self-taught adds more appeal to her skill.

In fact, before coming to work at Clifton’s, Mejia was a stay-at-home mom with no background in food. Rather, she had a retail, fashion, and art design background with experience in Western horse training. A far cry from baking and cake design.

Her career in baking actually began when her twin daughters asked her to make a cake for their birthday. With the cake being a surprise hit at the event, Mejia’s talents spread through word-of-mouth among her friends and family, leading to hundreds of cake requests from the self-taught mother.

Chef Mejia says her favorite orders are the most difficult ones, cakes that take anywhere from 20-60 hours to complete. As with anyone passionate about their craft, she enjoys the challenge.

Take note aspiring bakers. You don’t have to blow thousands of bucks going to culinary school to achieve this level of talent. All it takes is hard work, dedication, an eye for the outstanding, patience, and tons of flour.

By Peter Pham

Pete's favorite foods include pizza, tacos and pretty much any kind of breakfast. He'll usually snap a photo or two while his food cools down.