My ever radiant bakers and cake lovers, Happy Eid holidays to you. I hope this time affords us the opportunity to find all that we seek in time and space. There are a lot of programmes organised by bakers across the country during this holiday. I advice you young and up-coming bakers to make out time and attend as much as you can. In this industry, no knowledge is a waste.
“Take advantage of any training opportunities that come your way to add to what you know, be true to yourself and to your clients. Find a mentor who will propel you positively and you will get to your desired destination of achievement God willing” Those were the very words by Mrs Ndirika Udoyeh, Creative Director of Bakers Options, who is our guest on today’s segment on Naija Bakers’ Diary. She is an outstanding Naija baker who has gone through the thick and thin of the industry and still standing top. Let’s listen to her as she gives us more advice through her journey as a baker…
May we know your name and Business name and where you are based?
My name is Ndirika Udoyeh, Creative Director of Bakers Options and we are based in G.R.A. Ikeja Lagos.
When (the year) did you start this Cake Biz?
I started baking from the age of 9, had a mum that was a nutritionist and was always playing with recipes, doing all sorts to argument the family income. Bakers Options was conceived in my kitchen like 15years ago.
What are the things that prompted you to start up your Cake Biz as in How your love for cake decorating started?
My love for baking was born through the efforts of my mum. I was a restless young girl, and she use to keep me busy by assigning me to make home-made bread for the family every 2-3days, just to keep me busy at home, what started as a disciplinary strategy eventually became a passion for me and now the rest is history.
What was the first official job you remembered making as a Cake designer and how did you feel then?
The first official job I did was with Lady Kay Foods, my mums catering outfit. In 1994 she was asked to do a cake for NNPC, it was their Christmas party. Then she was still doing royal icing decorations, I remember not feeling very equipped to handle such job, sort the help of an Aunt, Mrs Dolly Onwubuya to supervise me to be able to deliver and that outing was the beginning of so many other jobs for Lady Kay.
Can you tell us your greatest challenges in the Cake Biz or the ups and downs you have faced as a Cake designer?
The greatest challenge for me as a cake designer is human capital. It’s a highly skilled job and employees that do it well don’t come easy. You train and at the point you want to settle the person moves on. You cannot bond labour, you just have to keep improving on your strategies.
What’s your greatest cake decorating triumph?
Every elaborate celebration cake comes with its own milestone, and once you deliver, it leaves you with this triumphant feeling.
How would you describe your decorating style?
My personality reflects on my cake decorating style, keep it very simple and classy.
What favourite Cakes do you enjoy baking and decorating and also the favourite colours you love working with?
My favorite is the sponge coconut, maybe because is our fastest selling brand.
What are the benefits (gains) you have reaped as a Cake designer or your greatest achievements?
Being a cake designer gave me time for my children when they were very young and needed my attention. It gave me flexible working hours. I have six children and being there for them for me is the greatest benefit.
A lot of people shy off cakes for health reasons and avoiding sugar. Are there options for these classes of people?
Cake making has evolved. For people who shy away from cakes for health reasons, there are varieties of healthy cake ranges available now that are wheat based, fat free, gluten free, healthy sweeteners like honey, dates etc. are used depending on individual’s needs.
What would you say is one of the biggest lessons you have learnt in your career as a cake designer?
Do I have a biggest lesson learnt? I will say the lesson is on-going because of the nature of the job. You meet different people every day and they come in with their different values.
What’s your most treasured piece of cake decorating tool or kit?
My paint brushes are my most treasured piece of tool, I guide them jealousy and my large off set angular pallet knife
What’s your advice to upcoming cake designers in the Nigerian Cake Industry?
My advice to upcoming cake designers is to remain focused, take advantage of any training opportunities that come your way to add to what you know, be true to yourself and to your clients. Find a mentor who will propel you positively and you will get to your desired destination of achievement God willing.