Cakes by Ricca making a name for itself

When it comes to specialty cakes, if you can dream it chances are John Ricca can make it.
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 11:06 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - When John Ricca is baking, he’s in his happy place and what comes out of it makes others happy. Cakes by Ricca started about 15 years ago simply by chance or should I say request.

“One of my youngest was watching a baking show, Cake Boss, and he asked if I could make him a cake,” said Ricca owner and operator of Cakes by Ricca. “I said I can try. He said I don’t want one of those sheet cakes I want a cool cake that’s different.”

Ricca admits it wasn’t the prettiest thing he’s ever seen but it sure did taste good.

“So I experimented and did a lot of research and that’s how it kind of began, I kind of got hooked on it,” said Ricca.

He was active duty military at the time.

“I was Air Force for 20 years,” said Ricca. “I did aircraft maintenance, was a jet engine mechanic.”

The last 5 years he served at Tyndall Air Force Base working on F-22s.

While he loved his years in the military, he said, “If I never saw another engine for the rest of my life I’d be okay with that.”

So now instead of turning a wrench for a living he turns a spatula.

“My favorite cakes are the ones that challenge me,” said Ricca. “The ones where people say I like this style, I like this theme. You go ahead and use your creativity and go for it.”

When he met his current wife she too was a baker. Both wanted to make the cake for their wedding. So how did they resolve it? With a bake-off of course. The wedding guests did the judging.

“And she rightfully won. It wasn’t swayed in any direction,” said Ricca. “That was one of the things we wanted to do at our wedding. I think it was kind of expected from everybody that knew us.”

These days he offers brides a taste testing extraordinaire. They can choose 4 different cake flavors and types of icing.

There’s about 30 different cake flavors and 20 buttercream flavors and then 4 or 5 gnosh flavors.

There aren’t many designs Ricca won’t try. The crazier the better, and there have been some pretty amazing outcomes.

“We experiment a lot,” said Ricca. “Mostly with family.”

So what does he do with the mistakes? “I fix them until they are right or cut them up and feed them to our kids,” said Ricca. “There’s some cakes that end up in the trash can. It all depends.”

When the pandemic hit they were down to one or two cakes a week. Ricca and his family used the down time to move to a house with a bigger space to spread out his cake business.

“Now, I do anywhere from 4, 6, 7, 8 cakes a week,” said Ricca.

But even in the middle of moving, they were giving back to the community.

”When COVID-19 began to hit we took 300 cupcakes to Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and to Bay [Medical],” said Ricca.

But the giving hasn’t stopped there.

“We also hold a monthly contest where businesses can drop their information on our page and we give away an 8” tall cake, 6 layers and we deliver it to them the last day of the month or the first day of the next month. That’s just to let the community know we care and to thank the community as well,” said Ricca.

You can check out Ricca’s work or contact them through their Facebook page, Cakes by Ricca.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.