Posted on

Baker by trial and error


Baker by trial and error

Social Share

SABRINA MARTINDALE knows about taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

After graduating from the Barbados Community College’s Hospitality Institute, the owner of Kreative Cakes by Sabrina, said she wanted to work as a receptionist in the hospitality sector to give guests and other customers “a wow experience”.

She applied for that position at a local hotel after her internship but there were no vacancies. Instead, they offered her a position as a cook.

“I said, okay, because I had done all four years in the hotel so it wouldn’t be a problem until a receptionist job came along. I got into the kitchen and was placed in the pastry shop, initially on the cold side. I started to do desserts and was really fascinated by how decorative and creative they were,” she told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.

“It seemed so simple at the time and I was fascinated and wanted to come home and do them for my mum and family. One day, I baked a cake and it flopped; it sank in the middle, [and] was all crusty at the top. I told myself that I did everything the same way that I did at work and [wondered] why it didn’t come out.”

Martindale returned to work where she checked to make sure the process was the same and tried again. That cake flopped as well as the others that followed, so she became a “closet baker”.

“I would hide it in the oven, hide it here, hide it there, hide it all over so no one at home could see,” she recalled.

After all those trials that ended with failures, she enrolled in cake making classes to improve her skills which she later used to successfully bake her five-tier wedding cake “with all the works”.

“When people saw the cake, they were in shock, they couldn’t believe that I actually did it. I incorporated my husband Ryan as well, teaching him how to make the flowers. Everyone was really amazed because it was a disastrous start, but it came out really nice and we were really proud,” she said with a smile.

Despite her success, the businesswoman was still optimistic about working on the frontline in the hospitality sector.

“I was really interested in customer service ‘cause I never had a good customer service experience in Barbados and I wanted to be one of the persons to change that. I was more focussed on customer service back then and only about three years ago my cakes [sales] started to pick up by word of mouth. On a weekly basis, I would have four to five cakes plus cupcakes.

“My husband said we could do it full time . . . but some months are not as busy as others, so I still keep the full-time job and would bake when I came home or before I left, depending on the shift I was working. Then, I would be up [at] two or three o’clock in the morning, get two hours sleep and be back out for a seven o’clock shift in the morning.

“I made the decision from January this year to try it full-time. It has been busy, although March has been a very slow month, it usually is. I have a lot of repeat customers and most of my business is through word of mouth and the website,” Martindale said.

Starting out was not hard as she already had equipment which she had bought over the years. She used the money earned from the busy Christmas period to buy large quantities of ingredients.

She wants to be “one of the number one” bakers for celebratory, birthday and other special occasion cakes.

“In my opinion, I’m offering something a little bit different than what the others are offering at the moment. I’m hoping that others will be able to see that and I can get my share of the market.”

She wants to make her customers happy but she would like them to try new things.

“I try to encourage my customers to be as adventurous as possible and not stick to the basic flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry but I find the clients and the populace in Barbados are not that adventurous.

“When someone calls and ask what cakes I do, I try to push pineapple or a combination of flavours such as a cherry filling and different ganaches (whipped filling of chocolate and cream) but they stick to the basics,” the baker said. (Green Bananas Media)