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Let them buy cake

Kate Marinkovich opened her café Tomboy in Mt Victoria, Wellington last week, offering a mouth-watering selection of pretty cakes, amongst other culinary delights. 

“It has been a whirlwind… emotional and special,” says Marinkovich. “The locals have been very welcoming and supportive, which is really fantastic.”

Marinkovich’s signature fresh, natural cakes topped with edible flowers and freeze-dried fruit are on offer at Tomboy, along with biscuits, salads, bread, lollies and sandwiches.

“It (Tomboy) doesn’t have a genre, I just try and do food that Kiwis love and do it well,” she says.

Her products are sold from the shop, and also via an ecommerce operation powered by Shopify. An ingenious system has been set up on Facebook which allows customers to directly inquire about particular cakes without leaving the platform.

Tomboy, named after Marinkovich’s five-year old son, joins an impressive and growing list of popular cake shops , such as The Caker on K Road in Auckland, and Bluebells Cakery that now has three stores across Auckland.

The 28-year old can’t pinpoint why cakes are in vogue, but she says cakes in New Zealand have evolved from the Women’s Weekly staples of old.

“Now we can have cakes that are beautiful, fresh, organic, raw, sugar-free, dairy-free and basically everything covered in edible flowers and freeze-dried fruit and handmade chocolate,” she says.

A self-taught baker, Marinkovich began baking at a young age influenced by her Croatian and Kiwi grandmothers.

When Marinkovich was about seven years old, she came up with the idea of a banana café where everything was made out of bananas.

“I think perhaps I’ve been waiting for the day I opened my shop since I was a little girl and so it (my first day) was full on. Trying to get the right food up, understanding the flow of service, and talking to people,” she says.

Marinkovich worked in hospitality since she was 14 years old, and spent ten years working for Ruth Pretty Catering before going to work for celebrated Australian chef Neil Perry in Sydney.

Her first job in a kitchen was two years ago when she was offered the role of head baker at Prefab.

“That was basically the final stage for me in understanding every aspect of hospitality before embarking on my own venture,” she says.

She has always wanted to own her own business, expressing her love of food and giving back to the community. Marinkovich says she doesn’t want to get massively big, but make food that people love and get to know the locals of Mt Victoria.

Bluebells Cakery, founded by Karla Goodwin who learnt her craft at the internationally known Primrose Bakery in London, has three stores across Auckland.

The Caker on Auckland’s K Road, founded by Jordan Rondel, has also enjoyed huge success.

Her business began as a blog in 2010, and one of her first customers was Karen Walker who ordered some cakes to sell at the Department Store Café, and momentum grew from there. She now sells popular boxed cake mixes, and opened a new, larger premises earlier this year.

Talented, 22-year-old baker Niuafe Junior Malupo, has his own business, Niu Cakery in New Lynn, and he is booked months in advance.

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