When it comes to baking cakes, Allen has big dreams and an artistic flair.
G.O.A.T. is an acronym for Greatest of all Time. Reserved for the best in their field, the term is used widely as examples of athletes. Think Tom Brady, Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods. When it comes to baking cakes, a Mississippi Delta boy with big dreams has proclaimed himself DaCakeGoat of Mississippi.
Corterrius JaQuavion Allen has a large presence with an even larger personality. He commands any room with his imposing frame, looking more like a linebacker than a baker.
A native of Shelby, Mississippi, Allen got his start in the kitchen during high school. He worked at The Sweetery, a bakery in Cleveland. He paid attention, and he learned a thing or two about baking. “I hated to do it, but I had to quit that job to be a full-time student.”
Allen attended Coahoma Community College where he earned his associate degree.
“I needed to do something to earn some extra money while I was in school, so I baked cupcakes in my mama’s kitchen on the weekends and sold them out of my dorm room during the week.”
The word spread about the delicious cupcake pop-up in Allen’s dorm.
“I was pretty popular on campus, so it was easy for me to get the word out. Once people bought a cupcake from me, they kept coming back for more. The hardest part was that I always sold out. I could have sold a lot more.”
There were no Duncan Hinds or Betty Crocker cake mixes in those cupcakes. Allen mixed all his batter from scratch. At first it was basic yellow cake or chocolate, then he got creative, making cupcakes like bacon maple with a small bacon strip atop the buttercream icing.
Allen continued his education at Mississippi Valley State University where he earned a degree in social work. He took his cupcake business to Valley and continued earning extra money. One day someone asked him if he could bake a cake.
“I figured it couldn’t be that different from baking cupcakes. The cake turned out fine, however, the decorating part was a disaster. But it tasted good!”
That was all the motivation Allen needed. He began watching YouTube tutorials and practicing, getting more and more confident with sculpting cake to look like everyday objects.
“I grew up watching the Cake Boss (Buddy Valastro, who runs Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey) on television,” says Allen. “His style is a lot different from mine.”
As Allen’s work improved, he felt he was ready for competitions.
“I learned from watching YouTube that there were all kinds of food competitions, and baking cakes is one of them. I got on the internet and stumbled upon a website looking for contestants for a cake competition show.”
Allen applied for the show, and when requested, he sent in a slew of photos of his work.
“I didn’t hear back, and I kind of forgot about it. Then one day I received an email that said I had made it to the next round. Then I got a request to do an interview with the producers via Zoom. I felt the interview went well, but again, I didn’t hear back for a long time, so I tried to put it out of my mind.”
The producers from the Food Network liked what they saw, and Allen received a call when he was in Atlanta on spring break.
“We had just arrived at the hotel – we had not checked into our room yet. I stepped into the men’s room in the hotel lobby to talk on the phone. They told me I had been selected to be on the Food Network’s Halloween Wars show. I ran out into the lobby hooting and hollering!”
Allen flew to Utah where the Food Network had a studio and kitchen “in the middle of nowhere.” He was assigned to a team that included himself and two women, one from Florida, one from Las Vegas.
“It was a fun experience, but nerve wracking at first. Once I got into the groove, I thought I could do that every day.”
Allen says that the women, who were complete strangers when they were thrust together, are now good friends. “I just talked to the one in Vegas last week.”
After the Food Network appearance, Allen got an unexpected call from Netflix. They were doing a game show-format baking show called Is It Cake, Too? The premise is that the bakers create hyper-realistic cakes that look like everyday objects.
“It was a game of deception,” says Allen. “The idea was to bake a cake that looked like something you see every day and try to fool the three celebrity judges.” Allen made it through episode four out of eight episodes before being cut.
It seems that having an artistic flair would be helpful, but Allen says that in school he always participated in the reading fair competitions, but he couldn’t draw. “I did know how to put things together.”
When he is creating one of his look-alike cakes, he refers to the real thing and works to carefully recreate each detail with cake and icing.
One of his most difficult cakes was a life-sized Louis Vuitton duffle bag filled with money for the rapper Big Boogie’s birthday bash.
“I stepped out in faith on that one,” he laughs. “It was 55 pounds, and five layers of sheet cake. I had to drive it up to Memphis for the party.” Allen says he was invited to stay for the party, and they treated him like royalty because of the Halloween Wars show. “They actually called me up to the stage,” he says.
For fun one day, Allen made a cake that looked exactly like a can of Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting.
“I wanted to prank one of the cashiers at Dollar General where I used to work. I told the manager about it, so she was there to video me as I went up to the counter to have my friend ring up my ‘purchase.’ Just as she was about to reach for it, I grabbed it and took a big bite out of it!”
Allen says he is still close to his mom, who by the way, cooks but doesn’t bake. He formed his own business, CJA’s Cakes and Cupcakes in April 2022. He has been busy making all kinds of custom cakes, including many wedding cakes. He even travels to locations around the country to bake. “I’m headed to Florida soon.”
Corterrius Allen’s cake creations can be seen on his Instagram page @dacakegoat.