Sylvia Weinstock, whose cakes became the stars of many celebrity weddings, has died at 91

Sylvia Weinstock, who became the world’s most celebrated wedding cake designer with a career started in her home kitchen and built here in Tribeca, died on Monday at her home on Leonard Street. Her daughter Janet Weinstock Isa let me know and an obit has already been written in People magazine, which photographed her cakes as part of their celebrity coverage for decades.

“The food industry is mourning the loss of one of their most legendary stars,” Dave Quinn wrote. “Her work simply transformed the way wedding cakes were designed, and still has a lasting effect on the industry today.”

I was lucky enough to meet her in early 2020, and I will tell you she was incredible: modest, warm, funny, smart, generous — just great company. She reinvented herself at age 50 — after fighting off breast cancer — built a remarkable business based on skill and unflinching dedication to quality, and then knew when to quit. She shut down the business to spend more time with her husband of 69 years, Ben, who died in 2018 at 93.

“She was my mate,” Janet said. “She helped me get through everything. What I learned from her is she was the most kind, giving, loving person — she treated every customer who walked in the door with the same respect, whether they were a celebrity or someone who saved up for years for that special cake.”

She was also a Tribeca institution and pioneer. She started Sylvia Weinstock Cakes in 1980 on floors 2 and 3 of 273 Church — she and Ben sold their house in Massapequa and bought the building. South’s was her downstairs tenant and she and Ben lived above the shop on 4 and 5.

She would go on to make the wedding cakes for our own Drew Nieporent and Lee Hanson, for Kennedys, and yes, she said with some regret, for Trumps. For several years running she took an order for a cake that was shipped to DC. Turns out it was for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Her cakes were known for the edible flowers that were built layer by layer, sometimes in the thousands on one cake. She only used butter, for its high fat content, and never ever ever fondant. Never. “No one likes it and no one eats it.” Her standards were exacting — it wasn’t worth doing if she wasn’t going to do it right, was my impression. “Your product is an extension of you — it really is.”

Of course she didn’t really retire in 2016 — she just started Act 3. She licensed her name to Laduree, made many appearances on TV baking shows, and in a way went back to her original career — teaching. But the spectacle of her cakes, and her understanding that they were symbols of a milestone in a life, will always be her legacy.

“The Indians, the Russians, they wanted what we did — the grandeur of what we did,” Sylvia said. “But also I contributed to my clients’ happiest times. I measured my success by the pleasure we gave others and the satisfaction I gave myself.”

In addition to Janet, Sylvia leaves two daughters — Ellen Weldon and Amy Slavin — as well as sons-in-law Keith Weldon and Barton Slavin, grandchildren Ben Weldon (wife Lila Miller), Dot Weldon, Hannah Slavin (husband Joel Puritz), Jeffrey Slavin, Dana Reilly and Evan Reilly.

The family will have a private memorial at a future date and asked that any donations should be directed to the Oncology Department of New York Presbyterian or the Weill-Cornell Medical Center.



  1. I have loved learning about her. Sad to hear of her passing.

  2. she was a dynamic, original and inspirational woman!
    wishing for her family and friends peace and comfort

  3. Sylvia was truly a pioneer, an inspiration, and a force of nature…
    what a sincere pleasure it was to reconnect with her just a few months ago and hear all her wonderful stories and life lessons. May she rest amongst her beautiful buttercream flowers.

  4. I met Sylvia recently as she was leaving the A Uno boutique … didn’t know who she was at the time. She was a lovely, feisty, very cool person who gave me some great advice about aging and not letting anything, certainly not that, stand in your way. When I read about her later, I was blown away by all that she has done in her life. Sympathies to her loved ones.

  5. Sylvia was an extremely creative, kind and generous soul. We in TriBeCa were so fortunate to have her as a neighbor and friend. Sylvia and her daughter Janet always supported local businesses and services. It was always a pleasure to see them. My heartfelt condolences to her loving family.

  6. My mother-in-law, a very proper Southern woman (think Steel Magnolia) insisted on a “groom’s cake” at my wedding & had Sylvia Weinstock make the most amazing cake. However, I was married 2 weeks after Sept 11th and Sylvia insisted and was actually able to make the cake-I think her husband delivered it :) I love that memory and was so impressed by Sylvia. My condolences to her family