By Tanya Henry
After spending nearly 20 years in the restaurant industry, Christian Röder, originally from Austria, now makes decorative custom cakes for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. Or as the pastry chef likes to say, “We bake your dreams come true.”
Röder’s journey to his San Rafael Krumbs Cakes business—run out of a shared commercial kitchen—didn’t begin in pastry. In the ’90s he worked as an executive chef for Windstar Cruises. During a stopover in San Francisco, Röder met his future wife and opted to stay ashore instead of sailing off to Singapore. Sous chef positions followed at the California Cafe Bar and Grill and Willie’s in Kentfield. He even had a brief sales job in specialty food, but discovered that he “needed to be creative,” he says “and do something that made me happy.” He also describes himself as “not easily employable.” In 2008, Röder was ready to work for himself.
After watching Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Röder decided that he wanted to create custom cakes. He brushed up on his baking skills and got to work.
Today, customers book appointments to sit down and discuss their personal vision for their dream cakes with Röder. Krumbs Cakes has multiple flavors and decorative options to choose from, and an order can take at least a week to create, depending on how detailed it might be. “We have made wedding cakes with everything from a dollar bill theme, to Star Wars, elves and the Eiffel Tower,” says Röder, who enjoys making the cakes memorable for his clients. “There are very few things I say that I can’t do.”
Along with whimsical designs, Krumbs offers 100 different cake filling options—everything from blackberry or green tea to peanut butter or pink guava. Whipping cream is also an option in place of butter cream, and best of all, Röder makes his own fondant, which can be a dry, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth experience if not well-made.
Specialty cakes are seasonal, and wedding season is in full swing right now. But there are plenty of anniversaries, birthdays and corporate celebrations that keep Röder busy year-round. Some of his regular customers, thinking ahead when they order a birthday cake, secure another one for the following year.
Krumbs Cakes, 1545 Fourth St., San Rafael;415/320-2400; krumbscakes.com.