It's been a tough year for everybody – with the outbreak causing necessary social distancing and protective face mask-wearing – and the food and beverage industry is no different. Restaurants, bars, cafes, food courts, snack stalls and cake shops have all been hit hard, making it almost impossible for some of them to bounce back.
But not this Hong Kong bakery studio, who have used their creativity to make a comeback with illusion cakes. These are cakes that look like everyday objects: a TV remote, a banana, or even a pair of slippers, except it's actually cake inside!
The founders of Dear Harley Cake Studio, Alison Chan and Cony Lam, came up with the idea when they made an illusion cake for Alison's banana-loving nephew. Using yellow fondant atop a dark chocolate cake filled with Italian meringue butter cream, the cake looked realistic enough to fool some people on social media. The popular post brought in a new surge of interest and customers which eventually lead them to change up the business into one for special order cakes, as well as workshops for those wanting to make illusion cakes themselves.
Today, the duo make custom cakes for customers modelled on anything from designer handbags, watches, dim sum, sushi, a cup of tea, the list goes on. "We get inspiration in everyday life for our new projects so viewers can easily relate," says Alison. The illusion cakes are priced from $1,500, with some going for as much as $12,000, but are bound to look impressively realistic.
Alison adds, "we started making illusion cakes since May, but in just a few months we have been getting a lot of media attention locally and even internationally. And there is a lot more traffic in our physical workshop and online shop. It definitely elevated our business to another level.” From only three to four weekly orders during March and April, the cake studio is now receiving upwards of 15 orders a week.
On how she feels other businesses can overcome the current challenges too, Alison tells Time Out Hong Kong that “I’d recommend others to do something unique. [Otherwise] you will just be another shop selling similar things if your products don’t stand out. Be creative and different!"