Middlebury baker and artistic cake designer Jennifer Montalto, owner of Jenny-Lu’s, has suddenly found the semi-professional bakery she runs out of her home kitchen is garnering a lot of attention — though not all good.
The sudden interest in Montalto’s baking stems from a life-like AR-15 gun cake she made for a 51st birthday party held at the annual Friends of NRA dinner. While many have praised the cake for its detail and design, others are calling it “insensitive,” as the weapon was used in the brutal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
“Finding a cake sculptor was not an easy task,” Elizabeth Mais, who ordered the cake for her husband Bill, wrote to NRAblog.com. “Saddened and frustrated I was determined to find a pro 2nd amendment baker. Thankfully, my employer’s wife referred me to Jennifer Montalto.”
Montalto, who said she has been an avid baker since she was a child and has designed specialty cakes for the last three years, said she was not thinking about the political aspects as she baked and designed this one.
“I don’t think about politics when I’m doing my cakes,” she said Tuesday. “A friend contacted me about it because they couldn’t find anyone to make it… It was a challenge.”
While politics did not go into her decision on whether to make the cake, Montalto said she is “definitely pro-2nd Amendment.”
“I believe in rights,” she said, adding that she grew up around guns and believes the right to bear arms should be protected, “As long as you’re safe.”
In her letter to the NRAblog, Mais explained why she wanted the AR-15 and Gadsden “Don’t Tread On Me” flag specifically:
A few reasons why I wanted a rifle shaped cake. 1. We both love ARs. 2. I could not find the real thing! 3. In light of the ridiculous gun bans proposed here in CT, I thought an AR cake with the Gadsden flag draped over the rifle case was fitting. Both Bill & I strongly oppose any ban that restricts Americans from enjoying the best sporting rifle created. Bill has even testified at the state capital fighting against such restrictions.
Online, Montalto’s cake has brought on some derision, including a Yelp.com review calling it “Insensitive,” and suggesting that the design is “ridiculing the tragedy in Newtown.”
Montalto agreed that public perception of guns, particularly the AR-15, has been low since Dec. 14, especially in Connecticut and so close to where the shooting took place.
“I cried for three days straight when everything happened,” Montalto said. “But in my mind, it wasn’t the gun that killed people, it was a very sick individual.”
She also said she could understand how some could be put off by the cake design, but that it was made for a specific audience.
“To each their own — if someone enjoys it, that doesn’t make them an evil person,” she said. “Don’t make someone out to be evil over a cake.”