Zim woman scoops cake making award in UK

Her cake won a silver medal at the prestigious Cake International in Birmingham, England, where Judge David Close gave her an overall 86/100 describing her cake as “a lovely piece of work with beautiful elements …great hand painting with a great use of color and texture.” 

Grace Kanengoni’s Flame Lily cake entered class D with a My Country Tiered Cake theme and did not disappoint as she shook professional competition from all over the world to earn the second spot behind Amanda Emery of the United Kingdom. Her cake is a true reflection of our country’s natural splendour depicting Kanengoni’s artistry prowess as an unrivalled cake maker.

Review and Mail reporter Phillipa Jaja (PJ) spoke to Grace Kanengoni (GK) in a wide ranging telephone interview in which she described her journey as a cake maker leading up to the global Cake International awards and her future plans.

PJ: Would you briefly give us  a brief background of your baking career

GK: I started baking 23 years ago as a hobby baker, but am now doing it as a business.

PJ:  What are some of the challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?

GK:  There are a lot of challenges in the cake making industry. Currently it is power cuts that are severely crippling our enterprise. The long hours without electricity have led to us finding alternative means to stay viable. These include investing in a gas oven or a generator. However, this is difficult as it is costly for some of our upcoming bakers who usually end up bowing out of business. Another challenge is that most of our ingredients are not produced locally. For example, some ingredients for Character themed cakes are sourced from South Africa.

PJ:  What motivated you into entering the Cake International Competition?

GK: I love to learn, kudzidza hakupere. I had visited Cake International in 2019 just to be inspired and learn. Competitors come from all over world to exhibit and showcase their cake art. I then decided to take a plunge.

The winning cake

PJ:  What were your prior expectations and how did you feel afterwards

GK: I did not expect to win, not at all. I merely wanted to be in the World’s biggest cake competition. I froze when I saw silver on my cake. I could not even hear my name called to the podium. I was ecstatic. I could not believe that I had won in international showcase that attracts competitors from all over the world. Mind you, there are probably more than 1500 entries with many different categories. A lot won gold in their different categories. One such was Tafadzwa Chigudu, a Zimbabwean who lives in the UK.

PJ: How do you feel about your achievement and what does it mean to you? 

GK: Am as happy as can be. It is like a dream come true. I have inspired a lot of other bakers not only from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has got talent, the sky is the limit.

PJ: Any future plans regarding this competition and others?

GK: Have already started planning on my next project, God willing. I believe that it is good to invest in training to upgrade yourself.

PJ: How has cake baking changed your life?

GK: I have made many friends from travelling for global showcases. Moreover, I also hold short classes which has resulted in me meeting many people. These short classes depend on what on a leaner’s requirements and have no fixed fee.

Grace is the owner of cakes by Gracia. Zimbabweans recently voted her for the Zim Cake Artists, Lifetime Achievement Award held in October. She was the overall winner at the Zimbabwe Cake Expo 2021. She is also the owner of Enchanted Gardens in Ruwa, Harare.

Meanwhile, Cake International is the original and biggest cake show competition in the world. The competition receives over 1 500 entries each year and attracts thousands of baking enthusiasts, cake artists, chocolatiers and pastry chefs from around the world.

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