By Mei Kuan
Bernice Lew, a 22-year-old Ipoh girl, graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in Manhattan in the beginning of 2017 after a 3-month intensive course majoring in cakes for all occasions where she learnt the basics.
The same year right after graduation, she landed her first job at BCakeNY in Brooklyn, an established cake studio with a celebrity clientele. On her 3-year experience at the specialty cake bakery as a cake designer then manager, she explained, “I learnt the most there from everyone coming from different backgrounds. The studio does custom cakes only and that environment led me to do different things that I have never done before. You learn to make use of what you have and be resourceful to make it happen.”
Perakeans are in for a sweet treat as she returned to Ipoh to embark on an online home-based business cum start-up, creating custom cakes of all kinds. Kicked off just a month ago via Instagram (bernice_customcakes) and Facebook (Bernice’s Custom Cakes), this new venture of hers is now her full time passion.
“When I worked in New York, their cakes were very sweet. When I came back, I had to change and adjust as locals prefer it to be less sweet. I do spongy moist cakes covered with fondant or buttercream,” she told Ipoh Echo.
Her cake journey began when she randomly spotted a wedding cake brimming with edible flowers online, created by trendsetting cake designer Ron Ben-Israel. The science-stream student was initially studying nutrition in Penang when she decided to make the switch and pursue what she loves in New York.
“The first order I took in Ipoh was a hotpot cake with ingredients on top which I never did before. I sketched it out complete with the details and colours. I usually obtain my inspirations online while I source most ingredients locally,” she recalled, adding that the response to her cakes, to date, has been positive with the hotpot cake becoming customers’ favourite. People got to know about her creations purely by word of mouth thanks to multiple satisfied reviews.
According to her, the time needed to complete a creation on average is 8 hours and above, “I have worked for 18 hours for a cake! The most time-consuming part would be baking and decorating. A lot of effort and time is invested into cakes like these.”
Starting out as a one-man show, she buys the ingredients, designs, bakes, decorates and delivers in person.
She took the effort to try out every single brand of ingredients and materials in order to find the best for her recipe. “The quality of ingredients and the method of making are what makes a good cake.”
Basing her start-up in Ipoh, she shared, “I was born in Ipoh and my family is here. I don’t really see a lot of custom cakes like that here so I thought maybe I could make a change and bring something new to this city.”
Ultimately, her biggest goal is to have a physical store one day. “It could be like a little cake studio where people can sit down for consultation and tastings before placing requests,” enthused the ever amiable Bernice who is also a fan of arts and craft.
What keeps her doing what she is doing? “My family is my biggest support. Making people happy is very satisfying. For instance, when I create something nice, it creates memorable moments for them,” she expressed.
Here’s her advice: “Be brave to do what you love. Don’t listen to what other people say. We have the freedom to be whoever we want to be—there is no template. When different people do different things, it will create more variety.”
Besides Perak, she also delivers to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Selangor. The price of a custom cake starts from RM200, depending on its size (inches) and design. One can opt for any of the 4 flavours available: vanilla, chocolate, matcha or coconut.
Open to collaboration, she also accepts corporate orders. Her cakes are Muslim-friendly. Besides her Facebook and Instagram, Bernice can be reached at 011-3303 9262 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comments from our Ipoh Echo Food Diva :
“I loved Bernice’s cake. Not only was it a feast for the senses but one for the palate as well. The chocolate cake was moist, with the butter cream topping adding to the smoothness of the mouthfeel. Every mouthful was a delight.”