JIN HEE SONU
FOUNDER & CAKE DESIGNER
Creating tasty and artistic handmade desserts is the fulfillment of a life-long dream for chef Jin Sonu.
Jin’s desserts capture and celebrate the essence of what makes her client’s events special to them. Delectable, luscious and crafted with painstaking detail, adding custom desserts from Purple Elephant to your celebration takes your event to the next level.
After attending the International Culinary Center (ICC, formerly The French Culinary Institute) of NYC in 2004, Jin spent years perfecting her pastry skills at renowned NYC venues including Café Boulud, Spice Market, Morimoto, the Gilt at the Palace Hotel and Morgan Hotel Group in New York, working under award-winning pastry chefs.
Jin opened her first custom cake shop in the posh Upper East Side of Manhattan neighborhood in 2010 with her ICC alumnus Candy Tamano Iannelli. Just a few years later, she opened up her second cake shop in San Mateo, CA after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. More recently, Jin moved to West Valley, Arizona with her husband Scott and her daughter Ann, opening her latest incarnation of Purple Elephant Cakes in 2017.
Jin’s desserts have been featured on the Style Me Pretty website and in FEMALE Magazine (Singapore).
A graduate of Sogang University in Seoul, Korea, Jin began her career in Public Relations in 2001 before turning to desserts in 2004.
HEAD CAKE DESIGNER
Tricia grew up in the West valley of Phoenix, AZ. With a father who loved to cook and a mother that loved to bake, food was always a big part of her family life. The older she got, the more she helped her parents in the kitchen. Her love for cakes was sparked by watching her mother make calls all her life, and around 15, she began to help with the detail work. After practicing with clay in her high school ceramics class, she began helping her mom by making fondant figurines, flowers and other 3D details.
After a rep came to speak in one of her classes, her attention was brought to Culinary School as an option for college. Two months after graduating from highschool she started at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale and received her Bachelor's Degree in Culinary Arts Management. After school and working on the line in a kitchen for three years, she decided that cakes were her passion and joined a cake bakery, where she worked for five years. She met Jin at the end of those five.
After Jin opened and established her Litchfield location, Tricia joined in and now enjoys her passion, learning all she can from her new friend and colleague.
A PURPLE ELEPHANT?
Our name - Purple Elephant Cakes - was inspired by chef Jin’s then 4 year old daughter Annie’s fascination with a purple elephant. The ineffable playfulness and charm of the idea struck both Jin and Annie as a perfect fit for Jin’s delicious desserts.
Whimsical, playful, colorful, vibrant, young and cheerful are the qualities we want our brand, Purple Elephant Cakes, to represent.
Annie's initial sketch in 2009
Purple Elephant Upper East Side, NY
Purple Elephant San Mateo CA
Jin made our amazing cake with such pretty details! The cake matched perfectly with our decor. We loved her sugar flowers and the dogs!! Everyone ate the mini desserts with a blink of eye. It was just that good! <3
-Bev & Peter
Photo credit: Jerry&Ingrid Photography
I can't think of a more enjoyable and fun cake tasting experience! Jin was awesome in letting us try four different flavors of cake and frosting for our wedding cake. It was hard to choose what flavors I wanted because everything was so delicious!
The best part was - working with Jin. She was absolutely amazing, patient, enthusiastic, flexible, communicative, and she absolutely delivered everything she promised. She is stress-free and helpful. Cannot say enough good things about her! I would highly recommend anyone and everyone who needs a skilled and awesome pastry chef for their special event!
Photo credit: S&J Photo Creation
Jin made us the most beautiful cake for our wedding. It was everything we had wanted and more!! My fiancé loves funfetti and so even though this wasn't a flavor on her menu, she was able to make it happen :). Jin made this part of the wedding planning process so much fun and enjoyable. In addition to that, she was extremely responsive to emails (which was so appreciated by this type A bride). Can't say enough about Jin and Purple Elephant!!
-Mindy & Alex
We knew we were in good hands when we first visited Purple Elephant's webpage.
The quality and the variety of cakes that Jin makes is a testament to her skill as a baker and artist. When we met Jin for the first time to discuss our wedding cake, we were greeted by her friendliness and willingness. More importantly, we were impressed by her ability to fulfill almost any custom request.
She spent a good time walking us through options (flavors and cake stands). We really appreciated her honesty in business when she mentioned to us that we do not need a standard-sized cake for a wedding event (since there would be a lot of left overs). As a result, she proposed we choose a size that was smaller than intended (i.e. cheaper option).
As the wedding day approached, she was very communicative and we trusted the cake in her hands. On the day of our wedding, Jin worked silently behind the scenes with the wedding vendor to help set up the cake. We were completely invisible to this process and it helped us out a lot in our wedding planning and setup. As we walked and saw the cake for the first time on our wedding day, it exceeded our expectations! Many of our friends have commented on how great the cake looks!
All in all, we would definitely recommend Purple Elephant Cake for a stress-free, high-quality, affordable wedding cake!
-Chris & Monika
Jin went above and beyond our expectations in creating our son's high school graduation cake. She took the time to meet with me and my husband to design his cake. The small details from the diploma, the high school and college seal and the rubrics cube were phenomenal. The golf shaped top half with the high school grad cap and tassel were the finishes that captured our son perfectly.
The reviews for wedding and birthday cakes were reassuring that we would be satisfied.
Just some of the comments from our guests "this cake is delish", "This is the most moist cake I've ever had", "the sweetness level was just right".
The sea salt caramel filling with vanilla cake and the marble and chocolate buttercream was a great combination. I will tell everyone I know if they are looking for a professional pastry chef, Purple Elephant Cake is the place to go. I'm hoping to have another event in the future so we can plan another cake again. Thank you Jin.
Jin did our wedding cake last year and then another more recent celebration cake! We are so thankful we found her! For the wedding she took care of all the cake details, setup, silverware, cake stand, etc. I didn't have to worry about a thing! Cake was not only visually beautiful, but it was a hit! People were going back for seconds and thirds! We especially like the unique flavors.. our favorite is almond and litchi. I think we will order green tea and red bean next time. We highly recommend Purple Elephant!
Photo credit: Jenna Marie Photography
I found Purple Elephant through Yelp and based on the reviews decided to contact them. Jin responded quickly to every email and was amazing to work with. I ended up ordering a two tier custom cake, cupcakes, cookies and smash cake for my son's Hungry Caterpillar themed first birthday.
When I picked them up on the morning of the party I was blown away by how amazing everything looked. I tend to be very picky and once I get an idea in my head it has to be perfect. Jin surpassed my expectations!! Every guest at the party told my husband and I how amazing the cakes, cupcakes and cookies looked and not only did they look AMAZING, they were DELICIOUS too!
I will never order another cake from anyone but Jin at Purple Elephant!!
We want to offer our sincerest gratitude & appreciation for making our wedding so special & memorable for guests as well as ourselves. We received almost as many compliments for the cake as we received congratulations on our marriage. I can’t tell you how many people told us that how much they liked not only our one of a kind cake but how each layer was a unique combination of flavors. You were really good at listening to what we wanted & basing your recommendations off them, which was why we usually agreed w/ what you suggested. Best of all, you were so sweet & patient with us. We always looked forward to meeting with you and it really felt like we were working with (talented) friend as opposed to hired help. We wish you nothing but continued success. Thank you!
-Jollieanne & Mark
Jin is incredible, I can't even start.. sweetest woman and talented, thank you so much Jin for working as hard as you did to make Jayden's birthday party just that much more amazing!
I already know that my words here will not justify the final product and service that Jin at Purple Elephant Cake provided me. Let's just say she exceeded all my expectations. Jin was able to make the perfect birthday cake for my fiance who turned 30. Her work is very clean, detailed, and the cake she made tasted really good as well. The whole package. We also ordered the macaroons as favors which were tasty and added that exclamation to her work. She also made a figurine of my fiance in a sharks jersey "chomping". who does that? haha Jin was super friendly, patient with me and responsive too, which I really appreciate because other companies are "too busy" to help. The cake was a big hit and everyone LOVED IT! Thank you thank you thank you Jin!!!
Booking her was one of the best decisions ever. She made my dream cake come to life. We had a different flavor for each tier. My favorite combination was the almond cake with cookies and cream buttercream. The cake also came with a rental cake stand and Jin was nice enough to drive all the way back to the venue to pick up the stand the same night as the wedding! Thank you Purple Elephant Cakes!
-Julie & Jason
Photo credit: S&J Photo Creation
I contacted Jin on her website and she promptly replied within 24 hours. I ordered a custom cake for my husband's birthday, I showed Jin a picture I had in mind but made minor changes, Jin surpassed my expectations and my husband was so impressed with the cake. The details and her craftsmanship were remarkable. The cake was a huge hit at the party and my husband was so happy. I can't wait to have Jin make more cakes for our upcoming events. She's a pleasure to work with and I'd not hesitate to recommend her to anyone that's looking for a custom cake for that special event.
Photo credit: S&J Photo Creation
Jin recently made our wedding cake.
Delicious - guests had seconds and thirds (they wanted to try all 3 flavors after one bite!) and marveled at how moist it was.
Elegant - Jin's eye for design is classy and elegant, exactly what we wanted. I've seen too many Pinterest pictures of wedding cakes that look garish or sloppy or loud, not what I wanted. She also took into account all the design notes we gave her and executed it beautifully. She also matched the fondant ribbon on the cake to a piece of ribbon I gave her from our centerpieces.
Easy to work with - Jin is so friendly and kind, and has great attention to detail. She's very responsive and is able to work out all post-tasting details via email which I appreciated.
Flexible - I must've changed my order at least 3 times and each time that meant changing which tier of the wedding cake had which flavor based on the flavors we chose for the 2 half sheet cakes we added. Jin accommodated and sent an updated order-sheet each time so we could visibly see the change had been noted.
Well-priced - very affordable and no nit-picky charges. We had first visited a famous cake place in Napa, and every little thing had an extra charge. Square cake instead of round, extra charge. More than two flavors, extra charge. Jin even lent us a cake stand to use at no charge.
I won't be getting married again :), so no more wedding cakes for me. But if I have a fancy celebration of some sort requiring a cake, I will definitely return to Jin.
-Paige & Stephen
Our wedding cake couldn't have been any better. Jin was amazing to work with from the very beginning. She helped us find the perfect flavors and look for our cake. Her cakes are so great that we ended up doing three different flavors because it was too hard to narrow it down. The banana cake with Nutella frosting was outstanding and was a huge hit.
If you need a cake, get it from Purple Elephant. You will be blown away.
-Rachael & Mitchell
We just had our daughter's birthday cake done by Jin (the owner) . She did an excellent job on the cake. The cake looked very beautiful & it looked like an art piece. The flavor was amazing. I am very much into cakes and it took me a long time to find "Purple Elephant Cakes" after doing so much research. Also, I am very detailed oriented when it comes to cakes :).
I found photos of few cakes I liked via the Internet and we created a custom cake based on our theme. It was a two tier cake. I did all of my correspondence via email. Jin responded to all of my emails promptly. She also made a separate smash cake as well.
I highly recommend this place and will definitely be back again for future cakes.
Photo credit: S&J Photo creation
I have ordered twice from purple elephant cakes and both times, Jin delivered outstanding desserts! She most recently did a Noah's ark themed cake and a modest dessert/sweet buffet for my son's baptism and they were a big hit! The guests couldn't stop taking pictures of the dessert before scarfing them down. Jin is very prompt, sweet and professional to communicate with. I'm sold and all of my party cakes and desserts needs will be done by purple elephant cakes!
Photo credit: S&J Photo creation
We ordered our son's 1st b-day cake from Purple Elephant and it turned out so fantastic! We brought in a photo of our son's traditional Korean outfit and Jin made a cake top of a little Korean boy wearing the same color outfit. We also wanted some jungle animals because the elephant that Jin makes is so adorable. She added elephant, monkey, lion and one or two more. She also added "1" to indicate our son's first b-day. When we went for the cake tasting, the sample she had out were all so delicious, it was really hard to choose. We ordered buttermilk cake with cream cheese flavor and lemon curd filling. Jin was really pleasant to work with and we did our monetary transaction thru paypal. Jin delivered the cake right on time an hour before the big event! The cake was too beautiful to cut but we were also very anxious to eat it. Heard great feedback from guests at the party, they wanted to know where we got the cake so I gladly shared the information. Jin is so artistic and talented, you can't go wrong with the design and taste. My family will definitely order more cakes from Jin in the near future! Thanks Jin!!!
I seriously can look at my wedding cake this all day, Big thanks to Jin for her amazing talent! Loved how everything turned out! As requested, light marbled fondant wedding cake with cascading edible gold foil, woohooo! And groom's cake! I was more excited about his cake than OUR wedding cake!!! The surprise turned out well, he loved it of course! Thank you so much
Jin from Purple Elephant was incredibly patient when going over options and desserts even when I would change my mind. At the end of the day, I think the stunning desserts speak for themselves.
Thank you guys for all your efforts making our daughter's birthday so very special.
Thank you again for creating such delicious and beautiful cake and macarons for Natalie's 2nd birthday. Jin, you are so kind, generous and talented. I appreciate you so much.
Don't even think about going anywhere else for your wedding cake! I found Purple Elephant by searching on Yelp. I knew I wanted a rustic style cake for my Autumn themed wedding this past November. Jin was the first baker my husband and I met with for our cake tastings. The tasting was free and she gave us each a plate with generous slices of various flavors to try such as green tea, almond, vanilla, chocolate, etc. Each slice incorporated various buttercream flavors in them. I would describe her cake to be a consistency of Asian cakes (moist, fluffy, and not too sweet). Jin was also very honest in her opinion and suggested that we did not need one serving of cake for every guest. She said that a 3-tiered cake would be plenty for a 200 guest wedding. This made our cake cheaper than what was expected and I really appreciated her advice.
After the tasting, my overall feeling was that I was going to go with her. However, just to be sure I went to two other cake tastings with other bakers. Those other cakes did not compare and their prices were competitive or even more expensive. Booking her was one of the best decisions ever. She made my dream cake come to life. We had a different flavor for each tier. My favorite combination was the almond cake with cookies and cream buttercream. The cake also came with a rental cake stand and Jin was nice enough to drive all the way back to the venue to pick up the stand the same night as the wedding! Thank you Purple Elephant Cakes!
-Karen & Chase
Jin made our wedding cake. All our guests loved it and she was such a pleasure to work with. We'll be ordering the same cake for our anniversary!
-Catherine & Jeyel
Photo credit: J&A Light
Jin is simply the BEST!! She can make any cake you want and will help you set up everything!
Photo credit: S&J Photo creation
I found Jin while browsing for vendors for my daughter's 1st birthday party. I remember stumbling on her Facebook page around 2am in the morning. Once I saw the photos of her cakes online, I knew immediately that I had to hire her. We had two separate events which required her skillful baking techniques. The first was for our daughter's "Smash Cake" photo session & the second was for our daughter's 1st birthday party. I emailed Jin photos of my daughters outfits prior to both dates and she was able to match and coordinate the colors on the cake perfectly. Most of our exchanges were over email, because with a 1 yr old, all my prep took place at the weee hours of the night. Jin was always prompt to respond to emails, a major plus in my book.
I gave a bit more direction for the 1st birthday cake. I knew that we wanted a traditional Korean girl doll as the cake topper w/ a cherry blossom theme to match our backdrop. Jin styled out the cake and emailed us a pdf of photos that she was going to use for inspiration. As they say, photos are worth 1000 words. We provided some small recommendations on color and sizing, but that was pretty much it. Jin accommodated our request to have two separate flavors for each tier of our 2-tiered cake. We chose the red velvet and green tea w/red bean filling. The cake turned out & tasted amazing!! I can only imagine how time consuming it must have been for her to place each delicate little cherry blossom onto the cake.
Looking back, my only regret was not ordering matching cookies as party favors.
I also wish that I had found Jin a few years sooner so I could have hired her to do our wedding cake. I can't wait to work with Purple Elephant Cake again in the near future!!!.
Photo credit: S&J Photo creation
Jin is so easy and very pleasant to work with. I was planning my daughters' 7th birthday and been looking for a fine quality of cake decoration and found Purple Elephant in yelp! She welcomed us for cake tasting and mostly our communication were through emails, our communications were very clear that we didn't have to exert effort. Then on the event day, everyone loved how she did my Alice in wonderland cake, sugar cookies, cake pop, cupcakes, etc. they're all gone before the party ended. Thank you Jin for working with me! Will definitely be in touch soon!
Purple Elephant is the best cake shop I have ever come across (and I have eaten a lot of sweets in my day...)! My experience with Jin, the owner, was excellent on all fronts (taste, design, and service). Jin designed a custom baby dragon cake and cupcakes for my daughter's 1st birthday, which in Korean culture is kind of a big deal...The cake and cupcakes turned out INCREDIBLY beautiful and SO DELICIOUS!! They weren't too sweet, so you didn't get ever get sick of eating it, which means I ate waaaay too much of it!
All the guests commented on how beautiful and delish the cake and cupcakes were! I can't wait to have another party, so I can order another custom cake from Purple Elephant!!!
Jin is just a pure pleasure to work with!! She's super creative and really sweet!
Photo credit: S&J Photo creation
From start to finish Jin was wonderful to work with. We ordered a 2 tiered cake and desserts for our daughter's first birthday party and her creations were fantastic! I ordered the green tea and strawberry shortcake- my request was 'moist and not too sugary' and she absolutely delivered. Our guests raved about the cake and not one piece was left behind. I didn't get to taste the strawberry shortcake but the green tea was great. I enjoyed it so much I ordered 2 additional sheet cakes from her! ^^ jin was kind enough to squeeze my order in and delivered the cakes personally. Now, I've ordered tons of cakes/desserts from various places for my children but none can compare to Jin's service. She is professional, creative, kind and her desserts are beautiful and tasty. Highly recommend!
Thank you so much for making it like this for us! Such a beautiful piece, love all the details.
-Stella & Jeff
Photo credit: S&J Photo creation
The birthday cake had a little doll on top, and it was customized based on my daughter's birthday outfit. It turned out to be exactly how I wanted it to be.
We got greentea cake with red beans, marble cake with chocolate cream, and chocolate cake with raspberry. My favorite was greentea cake. It sounded kind of odd, but it was soooo good! So many of my guests asked me where I got the cake from! Thank you Jin!
I’ve been following Purple Elephant Cake on Facebook for a while and finally reached out to Jin for a design cake for my daughter’s 1st birthday. Jin was professional and easy to work with. It was pouring rain the day of the party and Jin made a special box to make sure our two-tiered cake will arrive safe and sound.
The pink and gold two tiered cake with 1 on top and owl in the front was just perfect!! The strawberry shortcake was moist and truly delicious! We would love to work with her again in the near future!