Somewhere in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, there’s a pastry chef called Victorine. She is also known by the nickname « VKEE ». On a daily basis, her main job is to produce amazing creative cakes for her clients. We asked her 13 questions.
Starter Mag: Ms Victorine… You are a pastry chef. Others would call you a cake designer. What’s this job about?
Vkee: Basically, my job consists of making different types of cakes for special events.
Starter: Tell us the little story behind the name VKEE you choose for your business.
Vkee: My name is Victorine and short of Victorine is Vicky. But growing up, i used to spell it « Vkee ». So when i started my business i found it natural to call it Vkee’s Cakes.
Starter: Concretely, if you had to describe your main tasks during a typical week as the owner of a cake shop, what would they be?
Vkee: I supervise my staff, i take cake orders and i keep our social media pages up to date. I also provide my staff with necessary informations to be able to work, ice and decorate all fondant cakes. That’s how a week in my shoes looks like.
Starter: What led you to this job? Is it what you dreamed of when you were younger?
Vkee: I would say curiosity led me to this craft. I was curious as to how the beautiful cakes i saw online were made. After i took my 1st cake class, i never stopped till today. I literally fell in love with the craft.
Starter: What are the particular qualities or talents one needs to excel as a pastry chef?
Vkee: Lots of passion because that is what will keep you going through the back pain and other difficulties. Creativity, a steady hand, attention to detail and patience are all qualities needed to excel.
Starter: What makes you like your job this much?
Vkee: I love making cakes because my products make people happy. That’s my greatest satisfaction.
Starter: How much time do you need to bake a normal cake? And what are the different steps of the process?
Vkee: It takes averagely 6 hours to make a birthday cake. We start from baking, allowing to cool down, levelling and filling, crumb coating, covering with fondant, doing decorations and wrapping up the finished product. It could take more than 6 hours depending on the design.
Starter: Wow… That’s a lot of time! If you had something to change in the way you built your business, what would it be?
Vkee: I wish i was more daring. I missed a lot of opportunities because i was afraid to take risks.
Starter: And you get to combine work and private life?
Vkee: When I’m off work i try to spend time with family and friends. But to be honest, i give priority to Vkee’s Cakes because i cannot afford to fail a client.
Starter: Do you please your loved ones and family by baking them cakes for free?
Vkee: Ummm… NO. If you need a cake you pay for it. I have rents to pay, staff salaries, taxes to pay, etc., so NO FREE CAKES.
Starter: What do you respond to people who think 1) that your creative cakes are too expensive, 2) that creative cakes are good looking but not as tasty as random creamy cakes?
Vkee: Well, good cake is not cheap and cheap cake is not good. The time it takes and the ingredients we use are not cheap. Anyone who says creative cakes are not as nice as random cakes has never tasted our cakes. They have no match (lol).
Starter: How is the competition in this little industry in Cameroon?
Vkee: I think to a greater extent that there is positive/constructive competition amongst cake makers and i think the sky is big enough for everyone to fly.
Starter : A tip you would like to give to a youngster who wants to follow the same path?
Vkee: To an upcoming cake maker, i would say… You can make a living out of this. Get proper training, give your very best and let God do the rest.