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ARTISTS OF EXCELLENCE

Mich Turner

on 02 / 03 / 2017

Brief history of your business and how you got to where you are today?
I decorated my first wedding cake 30 years ago this year at the age of 17 when my A Level teacher asked me to make her wedding cake. I have made over 10,000 bespoke cakes since then. I studied Food Science at University; was sponsored by United Biscuits looking after Marks and Spencer Christmas Cakes and then worked as a Bakery and Patisserie Buyer at Harvey Nichols before founding Little Venice Cake Company in 1999. We have gone on to make wedding and special occasion cakes for celebrities including: Pierce Brosnan, Madonna, Gordon Ramsay and Queen Elizabeth. I have published 6 books internationally, won several awards including Harpers Bazaar and Chanel Entrepreneur of the Year and received a prestigious MBE medal from Her Majesty the Queen in 2010.

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I have had my work featured in the press, movies, TV and have worked with esteemed retailers such as Harrods and Fortnum and Mason.

I appear regularly on TV and was a judge on the hugely popular and successful TV series, Britain’s Best Bakery (nominated for Best Daytime in National Television Awards)

I host inspirational Masterclasses and regularly appear at live Cake Shows around the world.

I have a new range of cake making, baking and decorating tools in development and a new collection of Afternoon Tea Fine Bone China launching later this year.

I am an ambassador for Ideal World, Create and Craft and the Scottish Bakers’ Association and act as a consultant to major bakeries and cake manufacturers. In 2014 we granted our first overseas franchise in Kuwait.

How were you first introduced to Satin Ice?
I was introduced through the PR and marketing company responsible for promoting the product in the UK. They also looked after another brand that was a key sponsor of the Scottish Bakers’ Association – with whom I am an Ambassador, hosting and compering their annual conference and Awards’ Ceremony.  They arranged to send me a sample and I have to say it was love at first taste! 

(Mich along with Satin Ice CEO & Founder Kevin O'Reilly at the Cake Masters Awards - 2015)

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What is your signature style? 
Flawless, clean, breathtaking hand piping and hand painting.

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What is your favorite cake?
Can there really be just one cake as a favourite?  It’s very hard to choose – probably my OWN wedding cake. I took inspiration from my wedding gown and recreated the design as brush embroidery around the tiers. We are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year. I kept the top tier and served this at our elder son’s christening. 

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(Incidentally, there was another wedding in the same hotel on the same day as ours – and I made her wedding cake too!) Otherwise it would be cake for the movie Nanny McPhee! We have made lots of cakes for Emma Thompson since.  If you watch the movie credits – it does say right at the very bottom of the movie – with special thanks to Little Venice Cake Company – quite frankly I think we should be in the running for an Academy Award!!

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Is there one project that stands out through the years?
Having made over 10,000 bespoke cakes for some incredibly high profile clients – the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Wedding cake I took to Buckingham Palace was very special.  

FAOE-Mich-Queen-Anniversary.jpg#asset:15431I took inspiration from the detailing the Queen had on her wedding gown ad created this in hand piped detail. The tiers were separated with columns of hand crafted sugar roses studded with Swarovski crystals. The Queen took the top tier with her to Sandringham to enjoy over Christmas. 

Most challenging cake to date? 
OMG – I still say this is a scale replica of St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, London where the idea of the wedding cake originated.  Based on concentric octagonal structures with a huge steeple. I made royal iced panels and they had to be mathematically correct. I will try to find a photo but this was very early on in my career before we had cameras!

For sheer anguish it would be the cake I made to celebrate David Beckham’s 30th birthday that had to be made, decorated and transported to Madrid with 48 hours notice. Confidentiality agreements mean I am not permitted to reveal details, but it is the only time I have ever had to work through the night to complete a cake, and the beer I had when we arrived back at Madrid airport after safely delivering the cake – has NEVER tasted so good! 

(Seen below - Mich winning one of her first awards in her career.)

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(Seen below - Mich's first wedding cake!)

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What advice or tips can you offer to Satin Ice newcomers? 
Don’t be afraid of handling the product.  It likes to be worked to become malleable and cover beautifully.  Learn how to knead effectively with purpose and speed. 

Do not be tempted to use too much powdered sugar or cornstarch beneath the product until you are ready to roll out. 

Experiment with blending coloured Satin Ice to create new shades and always keep a note of the measurements. Steam the finished cake or decoration to create a beautiful shine.

Can you describe your cake decorating style in 3 words?
Precise, refined, elegant. 

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If you weren't decorating cakes, what would you be doing? 
I would be a professional triathlete by day and secret ballroom and Latin starlet by night.

What is a 'regular' cake decorating day like for you? 
The one thing I have discovered since I have been running Little Venice Cake Company is no two days are ever the same! Neither have I ever clock-watched!

Kuwait is 2 hours ahead of us, so my day starts early connecting with them via Skype, Whatsapp and email.  I have many roles overseeing the brand in the UK and then liaise with East Coast USA (5 hours behind) and West Coast (8 hours behind) so my day is stretched at both ends.  I am a very organized person, which I enjoy.  I run my home, family and business all with the same, no-nonsense non-procrastination approach – and look forward to every day.

What is your creative process for making cakes?
Inspiration is constant.  I never top thinking about ideas. Designs for the new Little Venice Cake Company collection start with me planting the seed of an idea in my head and then challenging every element of it through a scientific process. This may take a couple of days. I ask a lot of “what if” before I put the design down on paper.  This can then change again before I am ready to go into production. I consider colors, shapes, number of tiers, separations, flowers, other decorations, the overall and then actual detailed design, ribbon textures and colours. 

I then move into production – and quite often designs are a process of evolution right through until the design is completed.

What is your favorite part about making/designing cakes? 
I think seeing the finished cake in all its splendour that started as a seed of an idea that then becomes an iconic and classic design in our collection.

What is your favorite cake flavor to make? 
Oh Golly – that’s like asking me to choose between my children.  Currently it is my Carrot cake (or I should say Pierce Brosnan’s carrot cake – as I made it for his wedding) that is in my new book – it is dairy-free, baked with sultanas, coconut and walnuts.  I decorate it with orange cream cheese frosting and caramelized roasted walnuts. 

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That, and my totally indulgent gluten free chocolate drip cake made with ground almonds, melted chocolate and the most indulgent dark chocolate ganache (the same I made for Gordon Ramsay’s birthday cake)

What is inspiring you this very moment? 
Fashion – always!!  The catwalk shows are always wonderful – to see such refined opulence, pink pink pink, ruffles, lace, opulence and some wonderful striking colors from the likes of Balenciaga, Dior and Chanel.

I would then go to Russia and spend the day immersed in Mirror Glazed cake!

Who would you love to learn from in the industry? 
Ron Ben Israel makes the most incredible sugar flowers. I would love to spend a day with him – he’s a true giggle yet so professional. I am looking forward to seeing him again at CakeFair this year.

(Mich Turner meeting fellow Artist of Excellence Ron Ben-Israel for the first time in NYC!)

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What are the big trends you are seeing right now in cakes? 
Mirror Glaze finishes on patisserie cakes and explosive super deep buttercreamed, drip cakes with a whole manner of delicious sweet explosions on the top from marshmallows to macarons, brittle to truffles. I think there is also a trend – at the other end of the scale for cakes that people can enjoy that are more nutritious and delicious. Offering lower fat, lower sugar, dairy free, gluten free alternatives that are easier to bake and more nutritious to enjoy for everyday baking.

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What do you aspire to accomplish with your cakes?
A feast for the eyes and a memory for the palate; a memory for the eyes and a feast for the palate! Essentially a cake that tastes as good as it looks as good as it smells! 

If you could create a cake for anyone in history (past or present): Who would it be and why?
Cinderella! It would be the most romantic, gorgeous, embellished, refined, opulent, totally indulgent wedding cake befitting of the fairytale.

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Finally what is the next big thing for you? 

  • NEW book – “Have Your Cake and Eat It” publishing 7th March 2017
  • NEW Afternoon Tea Fine Bone China
  • NEW baking and decorating tools with Create and Craft and Ideal World NEW Cake Fair in Orlando in October

(Mich on stage at Cake Fair 2015 in Orlando)

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NameMich Turner MBE

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LocationLondon/Kuwait

Education/TrainingBachelor of Science Honours Degree in Food Science and Nutrition, 30 years’ experience, Founder Little Venice Cake Company.

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Business name: Little Venice Cake Company, London/Kuwait

FacebookLittleVeniceCakeCompany

Cake Philosophy/words to live byThere’s no fast track to experience. Always aim to be that little bit better today than you were yesterday. Keep moving forward. 

(Cake done for Cake International 2015)

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To learn more about Mich and her elegant cake decorating style - be sure to also check out her Artist of Excellence profile page.

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