Celebrity Chef Van E. French, Jr.

Van E. French is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef and owner of Van Earl's Cakes in Bucks County, PA. Van brings over twenty years of professional experience in the culinary arts to the Philadelphia area. His lengthy resume includes chef management, pastry sanitation training, nutrition, ethnic cooking, restaurant supervision, and winery.

After graduating from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia, Van's extensive professional training took him abroad to Paris, France where he was mentored in specialized styles, textures, and presentations. Back home, he was trained by Chef Extraordinaire Charlie Palmer at the Aureole Restaurant in New York City. He has provided service as a pastry chef to the Fireman's Group at New York City's Cafe Fiorello's Roman as well as to the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia. Van has also studied the art of creating sugar flowers with internationally renowned sugar artist Ron Ben-Israel.

Specializing in high-end wedding cakes and gourmet desserts, Van is responsible for providing service to several five-star hotels in Philadelphia, The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia, STARR Catering Group accommodating their VIP clients with jaw-dropping cake art, as well as accepting numerous freelance accounts. Van French has been featured several times in local publications, including the Philadelphia Wedding Magazine, The Philadelphia Style Magazine for his artistic and creative designs; he also competed in Season 2 Food Network’s “Cake Wars” in 2016, and competed in the new season Food Network’s 2018 “Wedding Cake Championship”.

Estella Hopkins, President

Estella Hopkins attended Alabama A & M University, earning her degree in business. As an energetic and chic professional, Estella began her business career in the cosmetic industry in 1997 as a certified business executive. Estella was skillfully trained under internationally acclaimed makeup artist Sam Fine, who is known for beautifying world class celebrity models and stars such as Iman, Naomi Campbell, Veronica Webb, Tyra Banks, Patty La Belle and Vanessa Williams. Estella successfully broadened her professional service through her role as managing director for a cosmetic company and management consultant for various entertainers.

In 2002, Estella used her expertise to create a professional and business management company for Gospel Artists. The company was dedicated to understanding the needs of the public in order to help Gospel Artists reach their maximum potential. Estella organized several events for Gospel Professionals, including Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Smokie Norful, Julius C. Hope, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, The Choir Boyz, Tamika Patton, Philadelphia International Records, and Catch2.

In 2009, Estella brought her 18 years of entertainment and management experience to Van Earls Cakes, the premier specialty high-end bakery specializing in weddings and special events. Estella oversees the day to day operations, and works hands-on within the company, providing strategic leadership by establishing long-range goals, plans, policies and operating procedures. Estella spends time developing solutions to business challenges. She also emphasizes personal growth and effectiveness for staff members, with importance placed on future growth opportunities.

Estella has a passion and a talent for delicious food. When she is able, she enjoys helping with the artistic planning and design process of the cakes and desserts in the bakery. In addition, she enjoys cooking delicious gourmet meals for her family, friends, high-end and celebrity clients. She has a discerning palate and the ability to combine quality ingredients to create European dishes and desserts. Her artistic background allows her to design beautiful sketches for clients and to add her own flair to many of the Van Earl's masterpieces.

Estella's highest priority is to provide top quality service and a personalized boutique experience for each client. She has a passion for delicious desserts and flawless customer service, and is constantly looking for ways to delight and gratify each client, beyond the greatest expectations for each occasion. She also competed in the new season Food Network’s 2018“Wedding Cake Championship