Celebrations are just never the same without dessert to give it that cumulative effect. Most celebrations in Kenya generally end with cake as dessert to make the end of the event. The Baking industry has come a long way over the years with more people wanting more unique pastries. Apart from bread, other baked and fried pastries have become a part of every Kenyan daily meal which we mostly accompany with tea or coffee. There are now all sorts of baked foods and pastries some of which were already part of Kenyan culture such as mandazi, samosa, cake and new ones such as croissants, pies, brioche, danish, tarts and many more.
The creativity in Kenya has also grown over the years especially in the cake baking space. With the numerous cooking shows on TV and online and the diversification in the retail space – various ingredients from all over the world have become locally available and hence encourage more Kenyans experimenting with their cooking techniques and their palates. Bakers are coming up with new cakes and experimenting with new techniques, so much so that the gourmet cake space is growing very rapidly. Events such as CAKE FESTIVAL and the SAMANTHAS BRIDAL FAIR have further helped bakers push creative ideas and get access to more customers and also educate Kenyans on what’s new in the baking scene. Kenyans are willing to spend more for creative cakes more than ever before so that their events/celebrations are always marked with iconic delicious masterpieces to further accentuate the memorable moments. Every celebration big or small is a reason to have cake.
About Stacey Monyoncho
I linked up with a friend of mine who I consider a star baker and not just in training but also for the passion of baking. Stacey Awuondo Monyoncho is a born again Christian born and raised in Nairobi Kenya. Stacey has always considered herself a creative with her main canvas being cake. She is the founder and owner of Sweet Spirit Bakery a home-based business specializing in delicious and elegantly decorated cakes that will leave a lasting impression on your palette. She makes all sorts of cakes but is actually skilled in baking pastry and confections. She has been a professional baker for close to three years now taking a break only when she went for further studies.
Related Post: 12 Women Who Show Us That Food is a Creative Venture
Stacey grew up watching Martha Steward on TV since she was 9 years old every time it was on TV. The different segments on the show intrigued her but she would always light up when there was a demonstration on baking pastries. Her mum also baked a lot and she would often be allowed to help out in the kitchen which further sparked her love for baking. She got into the habit of collecting recipes so she could study them and that further confirmed her desire to be a pastry chef.
In high school, she did the food and nutrition course which gave her more of a foundation on the ins and outs of a kitchen and food. She then got a bachelors degree of Hotel and Restaurant Management from USIU-A [United States International University –Africa] and after that did an Associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry management from Valencia College in Florida USA
Each day is generally different for Stacey depending on the orders she gets and when they are needed. Some days she can work through the night and other days a few hours.
On a typical day, she plans her week’s orders, works on ideas and sketches then buy ingredients and supplies and schedule deliveries in between the week. The planning has to be very effective since there are aspects of baking a cake that requires more time, for example, giving more time for the cake to rest so that it’s more manageable when frosting. That can take as much as twelve hours more or less. So if a cake is baked on a Tuesday, it may be ready for delivery on a Thursday. So generally it is best to order ahead of time because of those variables.
The Baking Business
Stacey is fully reliant on her business as her main source of income and some of her challenges as a new business is that she has to do all the tasks to keep her business running. This can be very overwhelming considering all the tasks that need to be done.
Stacey also feels that as a country Kenya is still very limited in understanding of baking and pastries as well as different flavor profiles and things like classic French pastry and design
Stacey’s main clients are the middle to upper class of Kenya because they are more appreciative of the artistry that accompanies the nature of her work. There is usually a misconception by the general public that bakers are just cooks and what they do can be easily replicated. And also that being a chef does not have any creative element to it and is a career that one settles for if they don’t do well in other things. She does however still strive to make her products as affordable as possible without compromising on the quality and still accessible to more people.
She gets most of her clients through referrals and some through social media. She strives to soon be able to have a physical bakery and grow it into a global brand. She would like to see her credibility and influence grow in the industry so she can also get into other baking related projects. She prefers to plan ahead on how she’ll run her business as she is a strong believer in the work-life balance. Sometimes the hours a baker can spend can get out of hand, though sometimes unavoidable, shouldn’t happen too often.
She would however highly encourage anyone who wants to get into the baking and pastry business as there is a lot to discover to expand the industry in Kenya and beyond.
Some of the pastry chef’s Stacey looks up to are, Chef Amaury Guichon from France, Chef Elena Gnut from Russia and Cake artist Binti Mohamed from Kenya. She looks up to them not only because of their talent but because they are masters if their craft and have a lot of influence in the industry.
Stacey’s final words to all reading this:
“It’s never that serious”
“Never do anything that will put your physical, emotional and mental health at risk. Many people today are striving for success, riches, and fame at the expense of their health but it’s not worth it. The true measure of success is how much value you add to people.”
Social Media Links
Lorna is a 2016 YALI Mandela Washington Fellow.