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Cake Monstah is a Wicked Good Friend to Boston


By Marc Cuenco

Michelle Scurio could write a book about how to make a small business into a monster success. The Massachusetts native is making waves for her creative and inspired wedding, birthday and special event cake creations, which she runs under her company Cake Monstah. Scurio began her culinary career in high school, learning the ropes through internships and pastry chef jobs, and eventually turning it into a full-time career five years ago. Today, Cake Monstah is one of the most sought-after bespoke cake companies in the greater Boston area, with Scurio well on her way to becoming queen of custom-made cakes.

Tell us a little bit about your background. 

I was born and raised in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts. I grew up in a family of creatives and artists. As a child, I was always drawing and painting, but it wasn’t until high school that I found my love for cake decorating. It was then that I realized I could combine my passion for food and art.

Can you talk about your upbringing and how that inspired your love for cooking and baking?

I come from a large Italian-Portuguese family. To say I grew up in the kitchen would be an understatement. I remember baking with my grandma as a child and cutting out hundreds of Christmas cookies during the holidays each year. I learned early on that food was a way to express and show love.

Who were your role models growing up?

I was obsessed with the show Ace of Cakes! Chef Duff was one of the first cake artists in the 2000’s to have their own show and what he did was so unique. No one else on TV was doing the type of creative, 3D sculpted cakes that he was. It was so inspiring and I knew right then I wanted to do just that.

When did you decide to go after a career in the culinary arts?

One of my first jobs in high school was working for the local bakery. I started out in front of the house as counter help until I eventually earned a spot as an intern in the cake decorating room. During this internship I fell in love with the bakery life and decided to pursue a culinary degree at Johnson & Wales University in 2010.

What was your first job?

During college, I had many internships and jobs. The one that stands out to me most though is my own company, Cake Monstah. Since 2010 I have been filling orders for family members, friends and brides all across Massachusetts. During my time in college I would come home on the weekends and work for myself in order to keep my company going throughout my years at school.

What did you learn from that experience?

It was extremely hard to balance life during this time. I was juggling work, school and running a business. I think an important lesson I learned is that time management is vital and it is important to take time off to rest and recuperate. You can’t pour from an empty cup! Finding a healthy work/life balance is the key to longevity and happiness. Now I always make sure to schedule time off in advance and give myself the rest I deserve after working so hard for my clients.

When did you launch Cake Monstah?

The concept and business plan was created when I was a senior in high school in 2010. During my four-year degree at Johnson & Wales, I kept my business going on the weekends. Post graduation I decided to work in the industry in Boston and get a feel for what it was like to work for someone else again. I had worked for several catering companies and worked my way up to becoming an executive pastry chef. It wasn’t until 2018 that I decided to take a leap of faith and quit my industry job to pursue Cake Monstah full-time. This has been my passion and full-time career now for five years.

What inspired the name?

I’m a Boston girl at heart and that includes the accent. The name felt very genuine and authentic to me and my personality.

Was it hard to start your own business?

Yes and no. The actual steps of registering with the state and applying for licenses wasn’t very difficult. The part of the process that I found most difficult is that there is no step-by-step guide for small business owners or entrepreneurs who are starting out. You literally have to Google every single aspect of owning a business and a company to find out what you need to do to become legal. It would be much easier if someone created a step-by-step guide on how to start a business in each state.

What are your most requested cakes?

Our most popular flavor combination is marble cake with chocolate fudge buttercream filling. This seems like a huge crowd pleaser as it gives way to a fan favorite and classic flavor profile. The designs that I have repeated the most are definitely all of the Boston sports logos. The number of requests I get for birthday cakes with our legendary championships teams on them heavily outweighs any movie or show themes I have done. The most common wedding cake that is requested would be rustic striped buttercream with fresh flowers. People love the classic elegance of this design and rustic chic barns seem to be a common wedding venue here in Massachusetts.

What has the feedback been like from your community?

The support I have received is mind blowing. When my city found out I was going to be on Food Network this past year, the outpouring of love was incredible. I was written about in multiple local newspapers and featured on the front cover. The alumni Association from my high school posted about me and my family and friends threw a watch party for me. I am beyond grateful for the love and support I receive every day. I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I love and bring edible art to life in my community.

How do you come up with your cake designs?

This is typically a combination of my creativity and the client’s request. Sometimes the client will come directly with a photo example of something that they like and other times they will just give me a theme or a color scheme and tell me to use my creative liberty. The orders I enjoy the most are the ones where customers completely trust my ability and allow me to run free with an idea. I feel as though the cakes that come out the best are when I’m not confined to certain parameters or a design and I can let my creative juices flow.

Where do you shop for ingredients?

I go to my local restaurant depot for most of my baking needs. There are a few occasions where I can locally source some specialty ingredients, such as edible flowers from small farms and businesses around Boston!

What flavors do you draw inspiration from?

One of my favorite Christmas cookies to make as a child was an almond thumbprint. It was an shortbread cookie with a circular indent in the top that we filled with raspberry jam. This flavor combination has been one that I have loved ever since. One of my most popular wedding combinations now is our classic “Newlyweds” flavor, which contains almond cake and a raspberry jam and cream cheese swirl filling.

How did COVID-19 affect your business?

2020 was a hard year for many people, especially small business owners. Unfortunately, as a majority of my business comes from wedding cakes, you can imagine that year greatly affected my job as all weddings were shut down for two years. I had to be quick on my feet and come up with an idea to bring in money each week. I decided to design custom take home decorating kits for kids all around Massachusetts. Every week I would come up with new concepts, such as cookie decorating, cake decorating, paint your own cookies, and cupcake kits. I was hand delivering them and driving them all around Massachusetts in order to bring in funds during the pandemic. This business model sustained my income until the world started opening up again and we could have small gatherings of people.

What got you through such a challenging time?

My family and friends were a huge support system. Some of them helped me to deliver and drop off kits around Massachusetts. It was also helping me to keep things in perspective. There was so much loss going on in the world that I really had to be grateful that I still had a job and all of my family members were healthy. I tried to stay focused on what I could control and buckle down until the storm has passed. Eventually, the world began opening up again, and I was able to fulfill all of the wedding orders that had been on hold for two years.

You’ve met a lot of local bakers and chefs by doing competitions and making your Food Network debut. What have you learned from other business owners? 

One thing that I learned this year is talent is not enough. There are SO MANY insanely talented people in this world. And not all of us get a shot at success or fame. You need to have grit, integrity, and perseverance in order to be a small business owner. The businesses that survive are the ones that never give up and are constantly pivoting. If talent was enough, everybody would be famous.

What’s the Boston food scene like for anyone unfamiliar with it?

Personally, I think Boston is a bit of a melting pot when it comes to our food scene. Every neighborhood offers a different variety of cuisine. The north end is famous for Italian classics and favorites. Chinatown is an amazing district to immerse yourself in if you’re looking for Asian cuisine. For seafood lovers, they come to experience lobster rolls during the summer season. I would say we have a bit less accessibility and variety than New York City, but our restaurants have more charm and a historical feel to them.

What’s next for Cake Monstah?

I plan to continue my business and passion for creating edible art. A long-term goal would be to get on Netflix competition show, Is It Cake? I would love to try my hand at a solo food competition and see if I can make it even further.


Marc Cuenco

Marc Cuenco is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer with over 10 years of experience covering pop culture, food, fashion and lifestyle. A healthcare professional by day, Marc spends his free time taking photos of his puppy Chandler and exploring L.A.’s diverse food scene.


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