Almost every celebration is marked by a cake, whether it’s a graduation, birthday or even weddings. Some believe that a cake is a symbol of bringing people together which means that a cake is a representation of unity.
A young Zimbabwean entrepreneur, Mikail Machiridza’s journey in the cake baking industry began as a passion for cooking and now he has established his own baking business.
His friends, family, and clients refer to him as Zimbabwe’s Cake Boss and this publication found out more about the Cake Baking industry through the exclusive interview below:
TR: Briefly can you tell us about yourself who you are?
MM: I am a 25-year-old guy who is passionate about Confectionery. I grew up in Bulawayo (Luveve) and conducted my studies there. I am that one guy who is not socially intelligent but prides himself in being self-motivated, disciplined, and highly versatile in baking skills. This is evidenced by the quality of work that I produce, even though I’m a self-trained pastry chef.
I’m also passionate about weddings! Wedding planning is part of the big plan and also sees me as an owner of the biggest coffee or juice bar centered on Confectionery given enough opportunity and financial resources.
TR: When one takes a look at the CV of your journey when you started it doesn’t indicate that you attended any confectionery school?
MM: Oh, yes I have not gone to any school for confectionery-related studies. Growing up, I always had a passion for cooking and I believe that is where it branched off. It all started when I was intrigued by a simple sponge cake recipe I had seen in a secondary school cookbook.
I gathered the little money that I needed to get the ingredients and I bake the sponge. My then neighbor tasted it and later asked if, she could buy ingredients and I bake a birthday cake for her daughter, believe me that was the off-set.
After I gained a bit of confidence I then made a cake which I remember specifically selling for US$10. It was around the same time that I started making slices and going door by door selling until people started knowing about me and my products.
However, I was only using my mother’s pots as the baking tins. One day I met a man called Solomon Ngwenya from Beitbridge and it was because of him that I got into Baking groups then started meeting some prominent bakers around Bulawayo.
TR: Zimbabwe, just like any other country is facing economic problems and many businesses are affected therefore how is your business able to survive the economic challenges in the country?
MM: Well it is just surviving, but not doing as good as it should be mostly owing to insistent advertising on social media and good referrals. The other thing that is keeping me, afloat however is that I make edible flowers for cake decorating as well, so it means that even if I’m not baking cakes others are and I’m making these flowers and selling to them. Only a few have mastered the skill.
TR: On an average day how many cakes do you bake?
MM: Well, I haven’t made waves yet. I do not bake every day even under normal circumstances-at least for now. I have made up to 12 cakes per week on my busiest days.
TR: When your clients come for a consultation with the theme of any cake, what type of tips do you provide to them before you begin designing or baking the cake?
MM: I always emphasize handling and storing. Some cakes have delicate or fragile decorations, some need a lot of support and hence it’s the same as being on the same page on how it will be transported and held.
It is always necessary again to give rational advice to clients in terms of coordination of colors and themes because when the cake gets delivered people won’t be interested in who had placed the order but the baker for instance I will never make a pink frozen themed cake as I have seen others do because for me, a cake is an art and you want to bring what people love into life through a cake and so it has to make sense and gets coordinate with whatever you’re given a theme.
TR: For a wedding cake how long does it take for you to bake the cake?
MM: I bake my wedding cakes at least two or three months before the wedding. Longer periods are recommended however for it to mature even more but a cake baked two months prior and matured will last longer than one year.
TR: What’s your favorite motto?
MM: “Never say die” I adopted this motto from my father because I am one person who doesn’t give up. I fall to the lowest but I always find my way back no matter what.
TR: When makes one as successful as a cake boss?
MM: I cannot say that being successful yet but one thing for sure is that I’m not where I was a few years ago. I’m still on the road to success and am still learning myself. However there are two major things I’ve learned that is the most important for me which are consistency and time management, these will get me far in any trade. Another thing is to kill procrastination-its a death sentence to dreams.
TR: What are the main rules that are in your kitchen?
MM: My main rules include
- ·Clean as you go- there is nothing as frustrating as having to clean up after a long baking day. Everything is just upside down and all over
- I don’t leave unfinished work to attend to something else.
- No phone in the kitchen. I easily get distracted and slow doing my work if my phone is closed. Hence when I am working I place it in another room.
TR: What has been the most difficult project that you have worked on as a baker and how did you manage to solve it?
MM: For now I can safely say I haven’t had anything that put me far out of my comfort, I look forward to such projects, however.
TR: As we wrap up the interview, my favorite cake is chocolate cake can you teach me how to bake one?
MM: Would be glad to do so because I actually do lessons but it’s been one on one lesson lately because of the whole Covid-19 pandemic.
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