New York pianist blossoms into a baker of lifelike bouquets

NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - As a Chopin nocturne glides effortlessly from pianist Navah Perlman Frost's fingers, a four-layer cake covered with lifelike pink and purple buttercream flowers sits in her New York kitchen.

Frost, 51, the daughter of renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, started piano lessons at the age of 6. She played professionally for 35 years in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, until the COVID-19 pandemic hit two years ago.

With concerts suspended, Frost took online baking and frosting classes, making cakes for friends and family because there was "nothing better to do," she said. "I didn't think I was going to actually end up selling anything."

Her flowers of icing look like fresh bouquets of roses, peonies and tulips or mimic works of art like Vincent van Gogh's "Irises."

"I've always loved beautiful things to look at," said Frost, adding that she majored in art history.

At the urging of friends and family, she posted photographs of her sweet treats on Instagram that by December 2020 had blossomed into a small business, with cake prices ranging from about $80 to $200.

"People have said to me in the beginning, 'You're charging too little.' I'm like, 'It's cake,'" she said.

As COVID-19 cases decline and life returns to normal, Frost may not return to the stage.

"There is a piece of me that is enjoying this so much that I would hate to stop doing it," she said. "This is almost expressive in a similar way as music... I'm enjoying that sort of feeling of creation."

A new-career highlight was a customer's reaction to a surprise birthday cake.

"You should have seen the expression on this woman's face when she opened the box, and the first thing she said is, 'Is this my cake?' She was so touched," she said.

"Even if you're getting very fleeting, momentary joy, I don't mind being part of that. I'll take it."

Reporting by Roselle Chen; Editing by Richard Chang

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