updated 27 Sep 2010, 00:39
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Mon, Jul 19, 2010
The Business Times
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Let them eat cake
by Melissa Lwee

FOO Mei-Zee might have had Marie Antoinette in mind when she named her dessert business after the queen's famous - but unverified - response when told that the poverty-stricken French had no bread to eat, but her rationale is completely the opposite. This talented baker really wants you to eat her cakes, and it would take more than a strong will to refuse.

Foo, an ex-writer, first started by supplying cakes to a cafe. But frustrated by poor margins and little recognition for her painstaking creations, she decided to start Let Them Eat Cake six months ago, after observing 'a demand for cakes, cupcakes and desserts for parties'.

Instead of going the conventional cake business route, she wanted to go a step further when she found that 'customers were buying the cakes and cupcakes for takeaways ... especially for parties'.

Let Them Eat Cake specialises in customising desserts (and dessert spreads) for specific occasions where Foo offers anything from simple cookies, cupcakes and profiteroles to even sherry trifle served in an elegant tall glass goblet and full-sized wedding cakes covered in fondant, all of which can be put together in a variety of ways for different events.

This mix and match mentality works well for Foo, who unlike conventional caterers, doesn't like to charge per head - 'because it encourages wastage', she asserts - preferring instead to sell each item in the buffet individually so that her customers don't over order.

'For example, one pudding, one cake and a handful of cupcakes and profiteroles doesn't sound like a lot but in reality, it is enough to feed 20 people,' says Foo who charges roughly $100 for a large cake or pudding and between $3.50 to $4 per cupcake.

'I love dessert, and a dessert bar always looks gorgeous but to be honest, people tend not to eat that much sweet stuff.'

There is a real homemade quality to Foo's sweets perhaps due in part to her lack of professional training - 'The stuff I make is not super sophisticated. I just love cake that is simple and tastes home-made,' she says - but she has an impeccable eye for elegance which serves her well when she is tasked with setting up and decorating dessert bars for her customers, an extra service that she charges upwards of $150 for.

A spread for a garden tea party for instance, could come in the form of cakes in wicker baskets complete with flower arrangements and perhaps even floral cupcake toppers to suit the theme. One week's notice is usually required; Foo usually only takes on one to three buffet clients a week.

Despite its short existence, Let Them Eat Cake has already garnered a healthy amount of interest particularly among parents looking to throw parties for their kids which makes up about 50 per cent of her business.

'It's basically a case of adults looking for a reason to throw a party,' she observes with a laugh. 'Although in all seriousness, I am finding lots of interest in dessert catering. I would say that more than half of the people who have called me up to do desserts are calling me up first before they try to organise the rest of the food for the party. It's like desserts come first, we'll deal with the rest later!'


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