Q&A: Quinn Pallister, the Hamilton baker responsible for making “the world’s gayest cake”
Last week, branding executive Chris Farias contacted Hamilton bakery Cake and Loaf about making a little something special to celebrate his engagement anniversary. His request: “the gayest cake ever.” The resulting confection has become a viral sensation and a celebration of Canadian values, particularly as the Supreme Court determines the fate of the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on religious grounds.
We spoke with baker Quinn Pallister about her now-famous cake and why she’s here to make cakes for anyone and everyone (but please—no nudes).
Tell me a bit about Cake and Loaf and how long you’ve been there?
I’ve been working here for about a year and a half and I absolutely love it. The bakery has been open for around six years, though. We try to source as much organic and locally sourced product as possible—supporting the local economy is a big priority for us.
And then last week, you’re busy baking for the holiday rush when all of a sudden, you get an unusual request.
I spoke to Chris over the phone last Monday. He explained that he wanted a statement piece to celebrate his one-year engagement anniversary—something that would spread some positivity. I come from a household of two moms. Last year, my mom married her partner Julie, so I was really excited and happy to take Chris up on his request. Chris said he wanted it to be “the gayest cake ever.” I jokingly asked, “How gay are we talking?,” and he said, “I want it to be so gay that if you were to send it to a country where gay marriage isn’t legal they would set it on fire.”
Ha! That’s very evocative, but still not terribly specific. How did you take that instruction and turn it into the actual cake?
We’re super busy this time of year, so I wanted something that was simple, but that would also have a big impact. This wasn’t a challenging cake from a technical standpoint. The rainbow buttercream icing up the side is similar to an ombre effect that we often do. I added some sparkle and then thought of a unicorn horn, which we’ve actually been doing a lot lately with the whole unicorn craze. In speaking with Chris, I got the sense that if he had a spirit animal, it would be the unicorn. But even after all that, I still didn’t feel like I had made “the gayest cake ever.” That’s when I got the idea to add words all around the base: “Love is Love,” “LGBTQ,” “We’re here, we’re queer.” That felt like the perfect finishing touch.
Were you there when Chris came to pick it up?
Yes, I brought it down to him. He was instantly overwhelmed and started crying and then I started crying. He said it wasn’t anything like he imagined it would be, but it was everything that he wanted. That reaction was pretty awesome.
And then you get a reaction from around the planet!
Yes! The cake was intended to make a statement, but we didn’t expect it to be a global one. We’ve received messages from South Africa, Germany, Brazil and India. The amount of sharing on social media has been amazing. Of course I’m proud of the cake, but really it’s just a fun medium for a very important conversation.
What do your moms make of your new-found celebrity?
Oh, they are over-the-moon-excited for me, and they’re really proud of the bakery.
Of course this is all happening in a larger political context with the U.S. Supreme Court currently deciding whether a baker has the right to refuse service to a same sex couple based on religious grounds.
We’ve definitely been following that story. It’s utterly ridiculous to me that people can be refused a service based on their sexual orientation. This cake that we made is different, but in general, most wedding cakes are pretty similar. When you’re making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple versus a hetero couple, you’re making the same thing. Wedding cakes are neutral. It’s not as if you would ask a customer, “have you ever been divorced before,” or “did you live together before marriage?”
Have you ever said no to any request?
We don’t do full-on nudity, which is something people might order for bachelor or bachelorette parties. And we wouldn’t do a cake with any hate speech or slurs.
Now that you’re officially a political baker, what’s next? A rainbow cake for Donald Trump? A #metoo cake for Harvey Weinstein?
Ha! I like both of those ideas, but I don’t think so. This was a great opportunity to show support and I’m thrilled it’s brought some attention to the bakery. I’m here to make cakes for anyone and everyone.