For Komeh Davis, making cakes is an art—and the reason she opened a bakery.
Komeh Davis was going to be a lawyer.
The daughter of an attorney, Komeh graduated from Miles Law School and started studying for the Alabama bar exam. She thought her career plans were set. But then, she met well-known baker Buddy Valastro.
Well, not in person. She was introduced to the cake baker and pastry chef extraordinaire on Food Network’s TV show Cake Boss. Even through the screen, however, Komeh was captivated by his expert cake-making skills—and with the art of cake-making itself.
“It was the art,” she said of what drew her so strongly to the desire to try making professional-grade cakes like Valastro. Her involvement in the visual arts program at the Alabama School of Fine Arts as a high school student, and her exposure to baking with her mother as a child, gave her a foundation—and more reasons—to entertain the idea of baking professionally, especially given how close she was to being able to practice law. “I have a passion for art. The artistic part of me said I need to learn how to put that on cake. I said, ‘OK, I need to try this.’”
In 2009, with the tenacity of a star chef vying for a title on one of her favorite cooking shows, Komeh dedicated herself to learn the intricacies of this sweet craft. She watched more shows and videos, read books about baking cakes and practiced, practiced, practiced.
Her first test came when she offered to make a three-tiered lemon cake for her grandmother’s 80th birthday. “It wasn’t my best work,” she says, laughing and shaking her head. “I was learning how to make flowers, so I put calla lilies all over it. I just continued to practice.”
She went to a class to learn how to properly ice a cake, and followed that with online classes. And, of course, she continued to watch her on-screen cake-making hero, Buddy, on Food Network. She was an artist using cake as her canvas. And in 2011, Komeh, her husband, Cardell, and her mother opened their first brick-and-mortar bakery, CakEffect, in Homewood.
Komeh says her mother came up with the name after watching Oprah visit someone’s bakery. The phrase “the Oprah effect” came up. “Once Oprah does something, you get that,” Komeh says. “So, she said ‘I’ve got the name: CakEffect. You want to have that same effect on people where they just keep coming back.’”
The business took off, and with each new cake, Komeh was more convinced she made the right decision about her career change two years before. Another feather in her cap was competing against professional chefs on the Food Network show Bakers versus Fakers in 2017. She has even made cakes for celebrities, including Marcell Dareus and Stephen A. Smith.
But as wonderful as those experiences have been, the joy her cakes bring to people is what keeps Komeh baking day after day. “One of my favorite things was seeing a little girl come in. She was having a rock climbing party. When she saw the cake, she just squealed,” she says. “When I get that reaction, it’s perfect. They’re just so happy.”
Komeh also makes cakes for Icing Smiles, a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes to families affected by the critical illness of a child, according to the Icing Smiles website. CakEffect contributed to the Hoover City Schools Foundation’s Denim and Dining event and the Alzheimer’s of Central Alabama Garden Art Party. “We said we wanted to be a part of the community,” Cardell says.
Several months ago, Komeh moved CakEffect from Homewood to a larger space at The Village at Brock’s Gap in Hoover, where they have more room to be a walk-in bakery (offering cupcakes, cheesecakes and gourmet popcorn, too) with some seating for patrons. She says the community’s response to the bakery has been “wonderful.”
Her family helps her at the bakery, and she still looks to Buddy and other famous cake artist role models, like Duff Goldman and Ben Cullen, for inspiration. She welcomes people’s ideas about what they want on their cakes, but she also loves when she is given creative freedom to make a cake for someone that is both unforgettable and a work of art. Ten years have passed since she decided to veer away from a law career and try her hand at professional cake-making. Like that little girl who squealed at the sight of her cake, Komeh still gets excited when she walks into the bakery to start on the day’s confections.
“There’s so much I’ve learned,” Komeh adds. “I have learned about owning a business. There’s a lot that goes into it.”