Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Money Matters

Being a passion-driven business, cake decorating is sometimes a difficult career to follow because of the fact that generally, consumers don't really want to pay a big price for something that is eaten in a few fleeting moments.

It is definitely considered a luxury to purchase a piece of edible art.

Let's put cake prices into perspective:

I've done a bit of research* and found the following to be current South African statistics for some common luxuries:
  • The average South African woman spends R 1000 per month on beauty treatments, including hair, makeup, massage, nails and clothes. (That's R 12 000 per year)
  • The average South African woman spends R 152 per month on take-away coffee/ cappucino. (That's R 1824 per year)
  • The average middle-class South African family spends R 300 per week on take out/ eating out.
    Let's break this down a's R 15 600 per year.
    As you would need to eat anyway, roughly R 3870 is spent on restaurant profit per year. ( I've worked it out on a 33% profit rate for restaurants - which is below average).
These are just a few consumables that are very short-lived, but add to the quality of our lives. I'm sure there are many more luxuries we indulge in that are important to us individually, so we can live happy lives.

The average price for a one-of-a-kind cake with matching cupcakes, purpose designed just for your
child, for 1 day in a year is R 1000 -R 2000. (This is a rough estimate, as this depends on personal choice and size.)
We'll take a look, now at what that means for you,  the consumer:
  • A surprise/ happy reaction from your child on their special day.
  • A delicious home-baked cake, made with quality ingredients and no added preservatives.
  • A piece of art to build a theme around and boost colour schemes.
  • The opportunity to take awesome photos of your child's birthday, allowing for good memories which will be treasured forever.
  • Let's face it, it makes you 'look good' in front of friends/ family, showing that you can pull off a wonderfully themed party, right down to the food. 
Yes, that moment is fleeting, and that money could be saved for something more important, but if you look at all the other luxuries we indulge in, this is one small price to pay for more than a spoonful of happiness.

- Chef Sam

*Sources: Property24, Health24

Monday, 12 August 2013

Sun and Moon Cakes in a Nutshell by Chef Sam

Two sweet little themes, ideal for first birthdays,
but they also make good baby shower themes.
In muted pastels, these are very effective for a calm and beautiful event. 
You are my sunshine... Using 2 tones of pink and yellow
gives this cake depth without overdoing the detail.
Twinkle twinkle little star...
Finishing this cake off with a spray of Amerimist's White Sheen Pearl airbrush color
gives this cake a magical feeling!

Cloud detail
Gum paste Sun Piñata filled with pink Smarties for a partial Smash-cake!

 Watch this beautiful video and song by Eric Herman: The Tale of the Sun and the Moon

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Cat cakes in a Nutshell by Chef Sam

Every dog has it's day, every cat has it's way!
Garfield - one of my all time favorite characters!
The Majestic Cheshire Cat
Cute (attention seeking) white kitty

Cute (sleepy) caramel kitty

Funny brown kitty

The Serious Cheetah

Cuddly Baby Simba

Black cat playing with butterflies

Mittens the Cat (Bolt)

The huggable: ALEX THE LION! (*crowd cheers*)
Tigger - Always full of bounce.

Baby Tigger

Everyone has their favorite!

Princess cakes in a Nutshell by Chef Sam

Every little girl would love to be a princess! Flowing dresses, Beautiful jewels and Handsome princes!
Here are a few Chef Sam princessy creations from the years past!
Mr Willy Wonka and his Bride... not technically a princess,  but she deserves to be one in her  royal purple gown!
Tinkerbell in a pink princess dress

Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Portrayed here as a ballerina.
Princess/ Pirate themed cake for a cute little girl

Princess Rapunzel, such a down-to-earth girl in all her barefooted glory!
Cinderella and Snow White await their princes at the door to their castle.

Rapunzel (2012)

Rapunzel in her tower. (2012)
I hope you enjoyed this rendition of 'Cakes in a Nutshell' by Chef Sam! ;)

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Fashion Cakes - Celebrating Women!

 This post is dedicated to real women who walk the runway of life proudly and boldly. Women who make a difference in any way. Grandmothers, Mothers, Daughters, Wives, Sisters, Friends, Colleagues... you all have a huge part to play in at least one person's life. Thank you for being Great!

A sophisticated 50th birthday cake

Delicately simple ruffles for a young girl's confirmation

This fashion cake was donated
to a local children's foster home to raise funds
in an auction at their annual group event.
It brought in R2400 for the charity home.

My version of the high heeled shoe cupcake. These had to travel far, so they had to be sturdy!

A simple but sexy corset cake for a bachelorette party.

This cake was made for a special client who has now passed away at 31 after a 2 year battle with cancer.
Here's to you, Janice Victor, Wife and Mother and Friend to many.

A cobalt blue wedding cake for a happy bride and groom!

Remember... YOUR boots are made for walking!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Follow That Caker: Maggie Visser of Memorable Occasions

In today's 'Follow That Caker!' interview, we will be taking a look at the life of Cake Decorator, Magdalena Visser of Memorable Occasions,  Bloemfontein, SA.
In her younger years, Maggie Visser enjoyed sketching and painting. It was her favourite hobby and she even recieved a few prizes in art shows. After marrying her now EX-husband, she was ‘ordered to stop painting’.
When her son had his first birthday party, she soon realised that baking cakes was a good way to release her imprisoned creative energy. This was how her love for decorating cakes was born.
After working as a head chef in 2 hotels, an old age home and getting a diploma in food technology, her selfish husband decided that the best way to make money at the time was for Maggie to open a Car valet service! A customer of the valet service noticed how her husband treated her and, being a lawyer decided to help Maggie to get a divorce. Which was nasty, to say the least.
Maggie went on to work at a Girls Hostel, to bring in extra cash. Once the divorce was finalised, Maggie moved away from her ex-husband and started work as a furniture sales person.
 While Maggie did a bit of ‘job-hopping', she was doing the cake decorating as a hobby, baking special cakes for friends and family only.  She had remarried and was much happier.
After having to decline a job offer, due to unsafe working environment, Maggie started baking more cakes and this spiralled into a small business, due to word-of-mouth.
Maggie's personal favourite - a wedding cake
inspired by Alan Dunn
Maggie draws inspiration from real life photos of flowers. Maggie says: “While I work my thoughts continuously go to God and how perfect everything is that He created for us. I am just a small human being, trying to create perfection, no wonder I struggle so much!”
She also finds Cake decorator, Alan Dunn very inspiring.

Maggie made her very first cake when she was 20. The cake was for a family member who is blind. Maggie was asked to use lots of artificial decorations on the cake so that her family member could look at the cake through touch. Maggie felt that this cake was good for its purpose, but she vowed never to use artificial décor on her cakes again.

Maggie's 'killer' cake was The Stargazer. Spending a total of 12 hours and 15 minutes on this cake was a daunting task, but Maggie says it was all worth it. Her client preferred not to have rice paper decor on the cake, so Maggie painstakingly cut and curled each and every triangle by hand out of gum paste.
When asked what her funniest moment was of her baking career, Maggie told me this story...

I received an email requesting a quotation for cupcakes for a bachelorette party . The client's photo was a bit small and unclear. I could determine negligee and what I thought was little figures on the cupcakes. I emailed my quote stating that I will be able to make the cupcakes with negligee on it. Seconds later, I received the confirmation order.
Two dozen with negligee and two dozen with a penis on each of them!
I almost fell off my chair! Shocked, I told my husband what I read. He did not understand. “Lollies,” I said , “men’s lollies!” He called my sons, laughing and told them what I had just received an order for.
Well I had already accepted the order and the full amount was paid into my bank account almost immediately. So I just had to do them.
That night I was tossing and turning until I eventually got out of bed to do a search on Google for adult cakes.  Wow! I thought that I was a relatively open minded 54 year old/ young woman. But goodness me, I was shocked! I could just imagine my late Granny coming to my kitchen tea and seeing one of those cakes. Bless her soul, she would have died right there on the spot! But at least it gave me the courage to fulfil my commitment.
The negligee was fun. I experimented with lace  and different  textures and really enjoyed doing them. Then I had to start on the male anatomy part. I told my two sons (34 years and 25 years old) to stay out of my room, closed the door and did my first model. I couldn’t help it, I tried not to...but I started laughing! I laughed so much that my two sons came into the room. They looked and started laughing too and proceeded to help form the correct shape!... Now I had a prototype. After much more laughter and jesting they left me to continue.
On the pickup day I needed to go out unexpectedly, so my poor, shy bachelor son had to hand over to the clients. He was more embarrassed than them!  
                                                                         *** ~~~~~ ***

Maggie believes that her difficult life has helped her in her business endeavours, but it keeps her humble.
It has taught her to appreciate her talent and to go ahead and live her dream. Although Maggie has had no formal training, a few of life's ups and downs have shown her that dedication is what gets the job done.
Maggie makes wonderfully realistic sugar flowers for wedding cakes and Christening cakes.

A beautiful wedding cake with handmade sugar sunflowers made by Maggie.
For a delicious recipe, tried and tested by Maggie, please visit Fudge's Favourite Foods.
Details for Memorable Occasions:  

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Sea Themed Cakes in a Nutshell by Chef Sam

I thought I would post a few sea themed cakes today. Some of them are old, but they are just so fun, I couldn't resist.
The first cake... The Nemo/Sebastian/Tintin cake was a real mix up of characters. I really struggled to get all the requested characters onto the cake, but in the end, they all came together nicely.
Take a look at some of the detailed shots of this cake.

The Nemo/ Sebastian/ Tintin cake

Then we have the tiny Little Mermaid cake.
The cake was 15cm diam. and the figurine was 8cm tall.

A 2D Finding Nemo cake

And finally some whale cupcakes

I hope you have a Whale of a time today! And remember... 'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...'