Article and Images by Rhy’s Cake Creations
In today’s world of cakes, nothing seems impossible. Bakers turned “artists” are taking what used to just be a cake with frosting and a little decoration, and are now turning these into creative masterpieces. This has grown into an industry worldwide where cakes take on a life of their own be it for weddings, birthdays, or special events. Art is being used to communicate something creative through cakes, using the cake layers as a basic framework and through creative imagination using various mediums such as cake, biscuits, chocolate, or rice crispy treats to produce an original piece. ‘Cake is an Art form’ in today’s society, as these creations become the focal point for many occasions.
It has taken Zimbabweans a long time to realize that we can do it just as well as the likes of ‘Cake Boss’ or ‘Charmed City’ cake makers from overseas by pushing boundaries or thinking outside the box. With abundant talent here in Zimbabwe, we are just as capable of achieving magnificent cake creations. We are proud to have a baker of note, here in Harare, renowned for consistently producing beautiful cake designs as well as ensuring that they taste as fabulous as they look. Charise of Rhys’ CakeCreations, is a talented bespoke cake designer. She is a wife and mother of four beautiful girls, who juggles family life with her love and passion to wow her clients. She truly turns the cake into an art form.
After having attended the Dominican Convent in Harare, she left Zimbabwe to expand her horizons. In 2002, Charise drew on from what used to be a childhood chore helping her mother bake, to now baking for herself with no formal training in this field except a UK Food Hygiene & Safety certification. She invested time and research into all things cake as she is self-taught. Jokingly, Charise will always say she has a PhD in ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’, as her passion to please her clients drives her to achieve the most amazing cake creations you can imagine.
When she returned to Zimbabwe, clients were very much set in their impression of what a cake should be but with her advice and enthusiasm, she managed to persuade them to think outside the box, imagining the unimaginable and this is when ‘creating lasting edible memories that would have a lifetime impression for the recipient’ became her drive to push boundaries and enhance her passion in this field.
Her repertoire covers designing, baking, sugar work, fondant, and figurine creation, as well as her latest desire to create amazing desserts for functions. As a teenager, she was always artistic and today will say that she loves playing with food simply because with an imaginative eye she can hand carve shapes of anything her clients ask without having to use expensive tins or moulds.
Children’s cakes were where she initially realized her love for this field. Seeing the impact her creations had on children when they first saw their cake, that sparkle in their eyes, and the magical feeling of joy. Let’s not forget, she tells us, the numerous mothers who would tear up when seeing them knowing that this cake for this milestone in their children’s lives will be remembered for many years to come.
What drives The Cake Queen?
Her response is JOY. The joy brings to know that every creation is a happy moment in someone’s life. Failure is not an option for her, as she knows just how much importance a cake has to any occasion. Never wanting to experience cake disappointment, she even made her own wedding cake! An emotional rollercoaster is what best describes her making her wedding cake, as ‘The Cake Queen’ the expectations of design had to be amazing. Charise decided to draw inspiration for the wedding cake from the venue she was getting married at ‘Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle’ therefore, the cake was regal and adorned with handmade floral sprays. The cake had to have sentimentality, as she is a traditionalist at heart, so she chose to have 7 tiers for 7 years of courtship before getting married. She laughs now at how at 11 am the morning of her wedding she was busy putting the finishing touches on it in between hair and makeup. Besides the cake, she also made individual monogrammed square cakes for each guest in acetate cubed boxes along with Greek sweets in another representing her husband’s heritage. This lady certainly loves all things cake so her guests were delighted by it all.
Looking at the creations over her cake career, she will say that her favourites were a life-sized crocodile, DJ Stavo’s chandelier wedding cake that then catapulted her into suspension cakes. Largest being 12 tiers and suspended off a central chandelier in the Meikles hotel. In 2019 with the expertise of a local production firm, Charise embarked on a new trend where she created an upside-down chandelier cake that could be moved upwards and downwards at the push of a button.
Novelty cakes have over the years have taken many forms from realistic flowers and vegetable boxes to pasta bowls, shoes and handbags, tanks to formula one cars, her desire to exceed her client’s expectations is paramount. As you will see from the numerous images here that span over a decade, she is a trailblazer in this field and very proud to be able to share her talent with those who trust in her abilities. She explains how the best cakes have always been when a client gives her full creative license after she gets to know them. Many of her clients have become friends or like family so that makes her work even more meaningful.
In a world where there is so much uncertainty for her, her superpower lies in this talent and more so the happiness it brings.
She believes ‘your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card and how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark’. Perseverance is her second name as she keeps striving to become better, to inspire budding cake designers locally by showing that we too are as good as our international counterparts.
Rhys’ CakeCreations is on Facebook & Instagram
Originally published in the 119th Ndeipi Issue