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SOFAB's New Exhibit a CakeWalk

By Ashley Larsen

“Let Them Eat Cake.” The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (1504 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard) is hosting a debut of photographs from The Birthday Cake Project. The project is the brain child of S. Louise Neal, a local artist, who baked and gave away one free birthday cake a day for the entire month of June. 


“I just happen to really love birthdays, and just the general act of celebrating, and decorating, and the aesthetics of it all.”  The basis of the project and the exhibition is that any day can be a holiday if one takes the time. Neal set up a website to let local residents submit a request to receive a birthday cake. Every day, she baked and decorated the cake and then biked it to the owner – free of charge. 


Throughout the month of birthdays, Neal said there were two types of cake recipients: those who expected the cakes and those who did not. “For the people who didn’t know there was a lot of excitement but also a moment of confusion. It can be pretty awkward to walk into a place of work or a private party with a cake, and they don’t know why. I don’t think anyone was disappointed though.”


According to the birthday queen, there were only two requirements to receive a birthday cake. You had to have a birthday in the month of June, and live within the New Orleans area. “I always did it first come first serve, so when I set up the website, I had a calendar posted, and as soon as I got a request I would mark that that day was taken. If I had taken into consideration the quality of the request it would have been a lot harder, I just didn’t have the time or the financial means to make extra cakes.”


Through the baker did make one exception to go outside of the birthday cake program. “There was a woman who was a resident at a nursing home in Metairie, her son was in the hospital. And her daughter, who contacted me, lived outside of New Orleans and was unable to visit her. I couldn’t let this woman celebrate her 82nd birthday by herself.” 


Neal always knew she wanted to present the piece but she didn’t know what form she wanted it to take. “I always let the people know that it was going to be presented, and that I wanted to show photographs, and come up with a chance for everyone to meet up.” The exhibition of the photographs will debut Saturday, November 8th, from 3 to 5p.m. And to accompany the cakes in the photographs, there will be homemade birthday cake served to attendees. And birthday wishes will be bestowed by Golden Delicious. 


The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is located at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. 


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