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Sweet Talk: Interview with Sugar Tiers

Posted on 31 March 2010 by Mădălina

I had the privilege of interviewing some of the industry’s most talented cake decorators. Rosalind Chan, and Evalin Chong opened Sugar Tiers– their first Canadian baking and cake-decorating center.

Both these ladies have fascinating stories, entrenched with worldly experience, shown in their beautiful masterpieces.

Rosalind is a renowned cake-decorating instructor, who has more credentials than I can name. Her business partner, Evalin, is equally decorated– a match made in cake heaven.

Sugar Tiers sells a full range of pastries, cupcakes, and traditional French desserts, as well as offers training courses in cake decorating.

They have an in house bakery, cater customized wedding and celebration cakes, and an on-site, full retail centre for cake decorating supplies.

I can guarantee that you will be wowed. Here is how the interview went…

[Madalina]: You both share a passion for cake making. What sparked your interest?

[Rosalind]: From when I was young, I have always been involved in the baking. I always had an interest, and I used to help with the seasonal baking for the family. My mother started had an interest in cake making, and made cakes for the family and relatives. [She] introduced me to the Wilton line, and from then on I started to get into the field of cake decorating; I studied in England for eleven years. From there, it developed further. When I migrated [to Canada], my interest furthered as I met more celebrity artists and it evolved into more of a career. I started to be more aggressive, and started to pursue the baking part. I later became an instructor, inducted into the hall of fame, and became the Wilton Method International Instructor of the Year.

[Evalin]: For me, it was my babysitter. She was very good at Malaysian baking. When I was young, I would stand beside her, and watched her bake. I was her little helper. I came to Canada in 1995, and I earned a diploma in Food and Beverage management. I ended up working for Rogers Communications for a few years, so it was completely unrelated. In those few years, I still took cake-decorating classes and I learned French pastries, and cake design, and pursued Arts and Baking at George Brown.

At the time, I really wanted to go into cake decorating. I saw Rosalind on TV, and I thought that it would be great to learn from her. That is how I met Rosalind…she was my teacher.

[M]: Rosalind, you have three cake schools overseas, what persuaded you to establish a cake school in Markham?

[R]: I had to leave a mark here. It couldn’t just be in my native country. I also live here now—my family and my friends are here. I said to myself, “I have to do this… I have to develop something here.” I told my husband that you don’t die happy unless you achieve everything you want in life.

[M]: So this is THE dream?

[R]: My dream was pursued in many ways, especially with my schools overseas. This was about making my mark here. I wanted to develop something more powerful than before, moving away from being known as ‘just’ an instructor. This is a showcase of my work.

[M]: What is the time frame? … how long has this journey taken?

[R]: Do I have to disclose this?!? I’m joking. From the first time I started? Over twenty years.

[M]: Wow! Twenty years? It’s pretty unbelievable that you’re so passionate about making cakes after so many years.

[R]: I know! It came naturally. There was no time between working full time in an office in the daytime, and teaching cake decorating in the evenings. I was traveling more than my boss! So I said, “you know what? It has to stop”. I branched out, and opened the first of three schools in Malaysia. I noticed there was a niche in the market, and since the first school, everything took off.

[M]: How did you decide to open a business together?

[E]: While I was taking her classes, she asked me to go with her to a couple of exhibitions. I went with her every year, and then we thought we should do something together. We both loved baking and cake decorating, so we were thinking about it at the time.

[M]: Aside from selling cakes, you also offer a wide range of classes in edible arts. Do you have any advice for people who are interested in cake making?

[R]: First, I always tell my students the same thing: If you are going into the business to make the big bucks, this is not the career. This is a career that you need to love…you need the passion. The hours are long, it is tedious, and at times it is very frustrating.

You need to love what you are doing. If you don’t love what you are doing, after a while, this business will get to you. Second, you need to be creative—you can make the best elements, like sugar flowers, but if you lack creativity, the big picture just won’t look good.

[E]: You have to have patience… there are no shortcuts. You need to know the long way, and once you know the long way, you can figure out the easy way. Baking is different than cooking; you can seldom improvise. You need to be precise.

[M]: Sometimes, when I try a recipe, it doesn’t always quite work out. Does this ever happen to you?

[R]: MANY TIMES—trust me!

[E]: Of Course…I can’t say no.

[M]: Good! I’m not the only one.

[R]: Sometimes recipes from different countries don’t translate well. Flour densities and ingredients are different. If I try a recipe that works in England for example, it might not work here. Humidity and sea level play a big role; all these actually hinder baking. My mom has the best recipes that work in Malaysia, she comes to try them here, and even after 100 times, they still fail.

[E]: Sometimes you might want to change the recipe around a little bit, and it doesn’t work. Sometimes, you might have a pleasant surprise… it might just work. If it doesn’t work, you try to figure out what went wrong, and change it next time. Doesn’t matter if you are a professional, sometimes a recipe fails.

[M]: Your cakes are so delicate… have you ever had a mishap?

[R]: (again) Many times. That is why when I deliver cakes I always bring my toolbox—my emergency kit. It’s inevitable: there are bumps, you could trip over…many things can go wrong. There was one time when I actually set up a cake at a banquet hall, and the DJ, while setting up his equipment, swung a wire across, and took out the top tier of my cake.

[M]: OH NO!!

[R]: I nearly died.

[M]: That is what the emergency kit is for right? To help you bounce back from mishaps.

[R]: Exactly. You have to improvise—and always bring extra sugar flowers with you.

[E]: For wedding cakes, I’ve never had a mishap. Knock on wood. Sometimes, you end up with cracks in the cake, or other imperfections. We try to patch these mistakes, and beautify them.

[M]: You are around desserts all day… do you ever indulge?

[R]: We seldom eat what we bake. When you cook something for a long time, you tend to keep away from eating it. We always taste it, but that’s it! We have to taste everything we sell.

[M]: If you weren’t a cake artist, what would you be?

[R]: I think I would be an interior designer. Every business venture so far, I have been the primary decorator. When someone asks, “Rosalind, who is your interior designer?” I say, “You’re looking at her!” I think I have a knack for it—it goes hand in hand with being creative.

[E]: I would still want to be a cake artist, even if I wasn’t one. I would still really want to do this. I really love doing this…it wasn’t always easy, but I would still choose to do this.

———–

If you are in the area, make a point to stop by their little shop. For more information on their store, bakery, and classes, here are the details:

Sugar Tiers

735 Markland Street, Unit 4

Markham, Ontario, L6C 0G6

905.888.9880

www.sugartiers.ca

I told the ladies that they would be seeing me in the future—I need to learn how to make those flowers. Who knows… maybe this time I won’t fail cake-decorating classes. Wait… did I tell you guys that story? The one where I flunked? No? …maybe next time.

Comments:

10 Comments For This Post

  1. cookies and cups Says:

    Wow! Great interview and they are some talented ladies!
    Absolutely beautiful!

  2. Jessica Says:

    i am very impressed by your interview. it is very professional done!what a multi-talent person you are!congratulations!
    congratulations and good luck to the ladies!good job!

  3. Sugartiers Says:

    To clarify the above situation raised by the bride we at Sugartiers sincerely apologize
    For the genuine human error in my partner’s side due to
    Personal emergency situation. We did offer her our regular
    Cupcakes free on top of her refund for her tasting cupcakes
    But was declined. Our retail staff had to verify the refund with
    The manager who was not in at that time as she did not have
    Her receipt on her thus the reason fr the delay. Since opening Sugartiers
    Have not missed an order and for this we already extended her a public apology.
    We have regular customers at our store then who can
    Attest to the situation. We thank her fr her feedback and can only extend our
    Apologies fr any inconvenience caused at her end.

  4. Miranda Says:

    Hello,

    I first heard of Sugartiers when they just opened in Richmond Hill. After test tasting their cupcakes, I was in loves.

    Rosalind personally made a beautiful cake for my mom and dad’s 25th anniversary. All the guests were impressed and raved about the taste and the flavor!

    I ordered cupcakes from Sugartiers a month later and they were absolutely amazing, thank you soooooo much for making my girls night a blast! I love the custom colours and the flavors. I’m definitely coming back here for more (and hopefully for the wedding of my friends too)

    I just read the review from a pissed off bride to be. I’ve never received treatment like that from Sugartiers. They are always professional, courteous and really sweet!

  5. Mabel C Says:

    This is interesting. I just saw TOWedding’s comments on another blog. It would appear that TOWedding is quite motivated to discredit Sugartiers. Quite odd if I may say so.

    In any event, I would like to say that this was a very thoughtful writeup, so well done, Madalina. I patronize Sugartiers almost every once in two weeks, for their cupcakes and maccaroons – definitely top class. I usually also stick around to speak with the very pleasant lady who works there too. Therefore my experience is very positive.

    On TOWedding’s comments, I’ll repeat my comment here: I actually wonder if TOWedding is a competitor to Sugartiers. I’ve heard a lot of stories of competitors intentionally sabotaging the hardwork of successful entrepreneurs but never thought it would happen to Sugartiers. I don’t think this is the right forum for anyone (including TOWedding) to smear the work of others with bad intentions – especially if it’s true that TOWedding is a competitor.

    Just my humble opinion.

  6. Mădălina Says:

    original comment has been removed– While we are sympathetic to bad experience, we feel the reaction was not appropriate on this forum. We will not tolerate slanderous messages on this forum.

    Sugar Tiers still stands as a reputable bakery in Markham, with numerous positive reviews and credited for their artistry and delicious pastries.

  7. Veronika Says:

    Just wanted to share my LOOOOVEEEEEE for this shop! At this point SugarTiers has become a go-to place for EVERYTHING sweet for us. Particularly, Rosalind made my beauuutiful wedding cake, and later my husband’s 30th birthday cake, plus i have taken a decorating class with Rosalind – best girls’ night activity ever, and on top of that, whenever an occasion calls for something sweet, it’s a no-brainer – Sugar Tiers is the place to go! The best thing is that there is always something new there. Rosalind and her team keep working on coming up with new ways to tempt me into a “cheat”-day. Plus, the team is so accomodating – they will bring your vision to life whatever it may be! And they will do it with so much finesse – my wedding cake for instance was embellished with gorgeous peonies made entirely from sugar – naturally i had to have a taste of the petals, and they were awesome! and just to add to the decadent flavour of the cake, there were fresh strawberries in between each layer – hey i enjoy some antioxidants with my buttercream, anybody else ;) ? Try this place, you won’t be disappointed! Thank you, SugarTiers!

  8. Jean Marie Says:

    I’ve been going to Sugar Tiers for a year now and they’ve always provided me with excellent customer service. Not only do they have the best cake in town, they also go above and beyond to fulfill my orders. I always order our cakes and cupcakes for our birthdays and company events from Evalin.
    They get two thumbs up from me. Highly recommended!

  9. John Says:

    Maaaaaaaaan Thats awesome

  10. Cake and Candy Decorating Says:

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