Sylvia Weinstock, the ‘da Vinci of Wedding Cakes,’ Dies at 91

Sylvia Silver was born on Jan. 28, 1930, in the Bronx and grew up in Brooklyn, where her father, Samuel Silver, and her mother, Anna (Benblatt) Silver, owned a bakery and later a liquor store. The family lived above the bakery, an arrangement that suited Sylvia, who would later live above her own cake business.

When she was 17, she was with friends at Rockaway Beach on the Fourth of July when she walked up to a group of young men and asked if any of them would go swimming with her. Benjamin Weinstock, a student at Queens College, stepped forward.

They were married in 1949 and later moved to Massapequa, on Long Island, where she taught elementary school and he practiced law while they raised three daughters.

Mrs. Weinstock earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Hunter College in 1951 and a master’s in education from Queens College in 1973.

The family built a country house near Hunter Mountain, north of Manhattan, in the early 1970s. While her husband and children skied all day, Mrs. Weinstock started baking desserts. Famed Manhattan chefs had second homes in the area, and she got to know some of them, including George Keller, the former pastry chef of La Caravelle; he ran a guesthouse nearby and took her on as his apprentice.

Another friend, William Greenberg, who owned several Manhattan bakeries bearing his name, suggested she learn to decorate wedding cakes with flowers. She did, and he started referring customers who needed wedding cakes, which he didn’t make, to her.