Rant-en-Dal’s pastry chef, Marcel Duvenhage, can work magic with cakes but he also has a love for writing and funky socks. We chat to him about his talents inside and outside the kitchen.
Marcel was drawn into this industry when he used to help his grandmother and his aunt bake and decorate cakes when he was only a child. He shared with us that their cakes were immaculate and always looked like they could be photographed and used in magazine articles.
‘I remember licking the beater when we were done. That’s something I won’t ever forget. I guess that’s what sparked my career as a pastry chef.’
Straight out of high school, he stepped into the kitchen to kick off his career as a chef, but he realised that same day that cooking wasn’t for him – baking is his real passion.
Without any formal training or qualifications, Marcel started A Taste of Heaven Cakery in 2016, not knowing it would be so successful that his creations would someday be
featured on TV.
‘I did a few short courses to learn the basics. I figured the rest out by myself. Running a business isn’t easy but if it’s what you really want to do, you make it work.’
He takes his career very seriously and all his hard work finally started paying off when his cakes were recently featured on Ster-Status, a reality TV show on Via … A couple of years ago, he joined forces with a local coffee shop owner who is now his partner in the business.
‘My favourite part of this job is decorating. I’m not very patient so I’m not a fan of the timely process of baking, and don’t get me started on the cleaning-up part … When I have decorated a cake and take a step back and look at the big picture, the waiting and the hard work that go into the little details are worth it.’
For Marcel, the most important aspect of a cake is how it tastes. His secret to creating memorable cakes is not only in the decorations but in the unique combinations that he uses to make the cake taste even better than it looks.
‘My mom always said you should not play with food, but when you are a pastry chef, you have to. I play with flavours and textures.’
I love what I do. I can create something that people will remember forever, plus I get to eat a lot of cake.
When Marcel isn’t busy with his fabulous creations, he does decor and flowers for functions – and he’s also in the process of writing two books.
‘I’m a very creative person. I’m busy with a very personal book about bullying and I’m also writing my own biographical cookbook. I’m very arty, so I always wear crazy, colourful socks to express that side of me.’
Marcel’s friends and family are very dear to him and they each play a different role in his life.
‘Some may call me passionate and career-driven, while others say I am their guardian angel and that I am a brave warrior. I take the lead and I’m not afraid of going for what I want or protecting what I have in both my career and my personal life.’
When his creative juices are flowing and he designs a cake, he decorates his masterpieces with ruffles, sugar roses and his beloved piping technique. Marcel says that it’s a very challenging industry to work in because trends change continuously, but he wouldn’t change it for anything.
‘I love what I do. I can create something that people will remember forever, plus I get to eat a lot of cake.’
Going forward, Marcel wants to teach adults and children the art of baking and decorating.
Details: 079 629 5183, [email protected] or follow him on Facebook, A Taste Of Heaven Cakery.
Quick facts about Marcel:
• What is your guilty pleasure? Milkshakes, chocolates, grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroons (I always make extra because I know I’ll steal a few).
• If you could be any animal, what would you be? Definitely a wolf — I’m a leader but I’m also fearless and brave and I can weather any storm. Like a wolf, I never give up.
• Which tool would you use for cake decoration if you had to use only one for the rest of your life? You can do a lot with a ball tool.
• Who do you want to bake a cake for? I have a vision of creating a beautiful cake full of roses for my grandmother, since she is my inspiration.
• What is the first thing on your bucket list? I want to be on a TV show like KykNET’s Koekedoor.
Text: JACO-MARI FUTCHER. Photographer: HILDA MANS PHOTOGRAPHY.