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Sumner cake designer specializes in the outrageous

Barbarann Kym's cakes range from the delightful to the frightful. #k5evening

SUMNER, Wash. — Barbarann Kym makes cakes that look like sea otters and sea monsters, turntables, and T-Rexes, and each one is an edible work of art.

“I've always been a very artistic person,” said Kym, who owns Cake Rhapsody based in Sumner. “I've always been able to create things with my hands, think outside of the box, and re-imagine things as art.”

She can make cakes that are absolutely delightful and some that are positively frightful. It might be hard to imagine sinking a fork into a cake that looks like a guitar built out of bones.

“I tend to find the beauty in things other people don't really recognize,” Kym said. “And I definitely love Halloween.”

That’s why producers of The Food Network’s "Halloween Wars" asked Kym, who has done some modeling, to join the “Morbid Mayhem” team in 2012.

“Here I was this girl that was self-taught, that didn't own a bakery, and never went to pastry school and we ended up going to the finale,” she said.

Kym also had her own Food Network show, "Freaky Sweets." What viewers may never have guessed is Kym is neurodivergent. She has ADHD and she is on the autism spectrum. She says both are gifts when it comes to building cakes that are also feats of engineering.

“There's different variables that go into what the final outcome is going to be,” Kym said. “I do all of that inside my brain. People ask me, 'How do you come up with this stuff?' and I say my brain just does it for me and my hands just follow my brain's lead.”

Kym also leads with her heart. On behalf of a non-profit called Icing Smiles, she is making a cake for a 13-year-old girl with leukemia.

“She likes pink and purple,” Kym said. “She likes sloths. She's really into the bohemian aesthetic, so we're going to do some edible macrame and a really cute sloth molded out of modeling chocolate.”

Credit: KING TV
A sloth embraces the number 13 on a birthday cake made by Cake Rhapsody.

It took Kym about a day and a half to make the cake. She had to stop what she was doing every so often to deal with the chronic pain that comes with Ehlers Danlos syndrome.

“It will inevitably expedite the demise of my motor skills in general so it could eventually limit how many cakes I can make.”

But this cake is ready to make somebody’s day. 

Claire Smith, masked up and nearly hairless, walks into Kym’s kitchen with her family. Her eyes widen with excitement when she sees the cake. She’s spent sixteen days in the hospital and still has a battle ahead, but this is a chance to put all of that behind her.

“Because she can't really be with friends or family on her 13th birthday, it’s really special to have something locally made and just for her,” says her mom Chrissy Smith.

Credit: KING TV
Claire Smith's big smile says it all! She loves her birthday cake.

The family gives Kym flowers as thanks.

“Oh my gosh! Thank you so much,” she said. “You didn't have to do that! You're going to make me cry”.

Kym boxes up the cake and carries it to the family truck and waves goodbye.

“These experiences are what keeps me from hanging up the apron,” she said. “Knowing that I have something to offer the world. I have something that is valuable that can change somebody's life even if it's just for a day.”

KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.

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