A Passion for Cakes

Urban Farmer Pastry chef whips up delicious, creative cakes for any special occasion

Any guest who has saved room for dessert or celebrated a special occasion at Urban Farmer knows it’s worth the wait for pastry chef Kara Swortchek’s scrumptious cakes.

Baking has been a part of her life since she was a child.

“I’ve always enjoyed baking from a young age and inherited a talent from both sides of my family,” Swortchek said. “I made Slovakian treats with my Grandpa Swortchek and mastered many ‘secret’ family recipes with my mom, grandma and great aunts.”

She still can’t reveal those secret recipes, but she can say they led to many wonderful hours making Kolachi, nut and poppy seed rolls, potato candy and cookies.

What drew her to the art of baking was the science and precision of producing many delicious desserts using the same simple ingredients.

Cakes are a particular favorite and she’s produced many great-tasting, creative designs for guests celebrating everything from birthdays to anniversaries to retirements.

Take the calculator cake (pictured below) she created for an accountant’s retirement party. Or the delicately decorated bunny cake (pictured below) for a birthday. The latter elicited this response:

“Besides my wedding cake, this was the best cake that I have ever had in my life and I am 73 years old!” the birthday celebrant said.

Swortchek said she gets her inspiration for her designs from photos and nature and also explores the Internet searching for all kinds of creative cake designs and new techniques to try.

She’s deftly handled requests for cakes depicting sunset sailing and a princess unicorn castle.

Sometimes the cakes take only a few hours to prepare. Other times it can be a week before the final touches are put on a special cake. A fondant topper or figure takes longer because it needs to dry before being assembled, for example.

Even away from Urban Farmer’s kitchen, she likes to bake, especially for her cousins, nieces and nephews who come up with some of her funnier requests, including a Robot cake, a chocolate horse and VW Bug and Cuckoo Clock cakes.

If you have a request for a cake for your next special occasion, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Barbara Gantous at Urban Farmer at Barbara.gantous@sagerestaurantgroup.com or 440-730-4250.

Dinner in the Dark Returns for a Summer Evening of Eclectic Dining

Dinner in the Dark is back at Urban Farmer, and with it comes great food, great chefs and a little bit of mystery.

As is tradition for this popular Cleveland dining event, the six participating chefs and their dishes are not revealed until guests arrive that evening. But history shows it promises to be a great lineup, and it always benefits a local charity selected by the participating chefs.

It is the third time we’ve hosted Dinner in the Dark and we’re excited to welcome the event back on Monday, Aug. 12. To get ready for the evening, we checked in with “Dinner in the Dark” co-creators Jeff Jarrett and Brian Okin:

Q. Dinner in the Dark has earned quite the following in Cleveland. What do you think is the appeal? What do guests tell you they like about it?

A: I think what guests enjoy the most is that it supports a local charity and gives them the opportunity to basically eat in six different restaurants the same night and sample those chefs’ fare.

Q. What do chefs tell you they like about it?

A. They like that it gives them an opportunity to showcase themselves and their restaurant while also getting to network with other chefs.

Q. What’s your goal each time presenting a Dinner in the Dark?

A. First and foremost, it is to raise money for a local charity. Second is to showcase the host restaurant. They have opened their doors to us. We want to be able to get 70-80 people there who will hopefully return and be a patron.

Q. This is your third Dinner in the Dark at Urban Famer. What do you like about their venue/setting?

A. It is a great location with a beautiful and spacious dining room, plenty of space for the chefs to work and [Urban Farmer executive chef] Vishu and his staff are always organized and professional, for just an overall great experience for the guests.

Q. Can you share a lasting memory/story or two from a Dinner in the Dark?

A. Dinner in the Dark has had the opportunity to cook at the world-famous James Beard House [in New York City] twice, taking what we do to another much bigger market.

Q. If someone has never been to the Dinner, what’s your message to invite them there and try it?

A. Just take the leap! It is a fun-filled culinary event that benefits a worthy local charity. And where else can you eat food from six different chefs in one night?