OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- On a foggy morning in a small bakery off Clement Street, Alison Okabayashi stirred a giant bowl of pastry cream, putting muscle into every turn of her big wire whisk.
"No shortcuts," she said. "I don't believe in shortcuts."
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Okabayashi started baking when she was little. Now, her expert handwriting flows effortlessly from tiny paintbrushes dipped in colorful sugar, and she's become quite a sculptor, too.
"He's not done yet, but he's getting there," she said, holding up a menacing Tyrannosaurus rex she says is fully edible by those who dare.
This is Okabayashi's full-time job: crafting eye-popping, jaw-dropping cakes that are every bit as outlandish as they are delicious. After she made a name for herself in the wedding industry, she took the plunge and opened her own bakery, called Pretty Please Bakeshop. But she never advertised.
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"We used the free sort of social media tools that everybody uses," she said. "I think at the time, Instagram was just sort of coming out."
But there was one kind of marketing Okabayashi hadn't counted on. Quite by accident, she stumbled into the sort of glowing endorsement that money can't buy.
"It was Festus Ezeli," she recalled. "It was his birthday."
A friend of a friend asked if she'd bake a cake for Ezeli, the 6-foot, 11-inch former center for the Golden State Warriors. His teammates had a few bites, and Stephen Curry declared it the best cake he'd ever had.
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"But then he had to qualify that, and say his wife made them a cake for their wedding," Okabayashi added. "Smart guy."
Stephen and Ayesha Curry became big fans, and now, Pretty Please Bakeshop makes birthday cakes for all of the Warriors players, with designs that get more elaborate each year.
"We did Steph's 3-point trophy; we've done lots of jerseys," she said, recalling one cake with a Michigan State Spartan proudly standing on top, wearing Draymond Green's number 23 Warriors jersey.
"We've done dogs -- McAdoo, we put his dogs on the cake, Klay, we've done his dog, Rocco," Okabayashi said.
Many of the players like the cakes so much they post about them online -- sharing pictures of the edible sculptures with their millions of fans. Okabayashi says it's generated a lot of attention for her little bakeshop.
"It's kind of weird because we're really small, we have a small crew, a small kitchen, a small shop, but you know, big clients -- so it's good," she said.
Okabayashi won't say whether she's planning a victory cake for the Warriors if they become 2017 World Champions. But like the players' birthday cakes, she says the design of such a cake would remain a closely guarded secret until the team opens the box.
Then, no doubt, it will be all over Instagram.
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