Chris, 28, cake company owner, Tuck-Box
I met Chris through Thomas. Chris spends most of his time baking and making and decorating beautiful cakes, the kind that you see in story book pictures more often than real life. Just looking at them will make you completely forget about those pesky New Year’s resolutions!
What is your job, exactly? I have my own cake company, Tuck-Box. I design and make cakes and biscuits for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations. My signature cakes are my colourful wedding ones. I like to think they are modern and quirky but still pretty. I use unusual techniques too, from hand painting to airbrushing. I’ve also just started teaching classes in some of these techniques. Before this, I was a ‘biscuiteer’ decorating extravagant biscuits for mail orders tins. They were also sold in high end stores such as Fortnum & Mason and Harrod’s. And before that, I did night shifts baking cakes for a restaurant.
What did you study? I studied fine art painting at the University of Brighton. When I left I interned for a catering company that organised themed dinner parties. I also interned for a renowned wedding cake maker called Mich Turner. She made Madonna and Pierce Brosnan’s wedding cakes and received an MBE after making a birthday cake for the queen!
What did you want to be when you were a kid? When I was really young I wanted to be a puppy and people had to break it to me slowly that it wasn’t possible to change species. I was on Ready Steady Cook (Ed. note: a British TV cooking programme) when I was 14. Looking back, I think that was a pretty good indication that I wanted to get into the food business.
Is there anything you would have done differently, given the choice? I regretted having done my degree for a while, because it seemingly led to nothing and I started having to pay back my loan. However, there is no way I’d be doing what I’m doing now without that creative training, if only for the self motivation it taught me.
Did you ever have a mentor? Yes, I started my company through the Prince’s Trust and they give you a mentor as part of it. We don’t see each other much, but I like to catch up with her every few months, because each time we recap I realize just how far I’ve come.
Is there someone in particular whose career you admire? Peggy Porschen makes really classic, beautiful cakes that are nothing like mine, but I do admire her consistency and I really feel like she refreshed an otherwise quite stuffy industry. In the early days I used her books as a reference and she’s got a great way of writing. I feel like people are sometimes a bit apprehensive about comparing me to Duff Goldman of Ace Of Cakes (Ed. note: an American reality tv show focusing on Duff’s cake company). I have no qualms about saying he is an inspiration of mine, I love what he does but there are definitely differences between his work and mine.
Do you know what you want to do later? I’d really love to write and illustrate a recipe book.
Are you good friends with your coworkers? I don’t have any, it’s just me!
What is your work schedule? I work 24/7, that’s the problem with doing something you love, you can never switch off. If I’m not baking then I’m responding to emails, ordering stock, designing new cakes, cleaning out the fridge or writing a blog post!
What do you wear to work? Do you think it matters? When I’m in the kitchen it’s got to be whites. However, I often have to meet clients, I always try and look smart for occasions such as these but if I’m honest I don’t think I own a single item of clothing that doesn’t have icing on it somewhere!
Do you have any side projects? I’m working at rebuilding my social life after two years of not coming out of the kitchen.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at a job? I’ve worked on a £25,000 cake for another company, I’ve helped make a gingerbread village that was flown via private jet to a family in Switzerland, I’ve recreated famous oil paintings on biscuits, loads of stuff!
Who should I speak to next? My friend Hayley, she does set and shop window design (Ed. note: coming soon!).