WHILE Marco Meyer, 34, is not your average looking baker, beneath the tattoos, piercings and stubble more often associated with bikers, he too has a soft centre and it is reflected in his cupcakes.
Born and bred in PE, he picked up his love for baking while working as a cleaner in a supermarket bakery 18 years ago. He was studying art at Russell Road College at the time and needed the extra cash to get by.
“I took a lot of interest in what the baker was doing and I assisted him every now and then.
“But I only realised it was my passion when he was booked off sick one day and I was forced to step in,” Meyer said this week.
Meyer made such a success of the business that he was promoted to take over the confectionery section, a job he enjoyed for the next three years.
Everything he has learnt is self-taught.
Meyer chatted to Weekend Post while sitting around his farm-style kitchen table this week.
The kitchen smelt of chocolate and freshly baked bread – two of his favourite things although he insists he does not have a sweet tooth.
“I never lick my fingers. I have never enjoyed sweets, but I love to watch other people eat my desserts.”
He likes to keep his baking wholesome and only uses fresh ingredients. “A red velvet cupcake must be made with fresh beetroot. I can’t stand it when people use red food colouring. It’s cheating,” he quipped.
For the next decade he gained experience at various bakeries around the city. Then, in 2010, he launched his own business, Cupcake Friday.
“Clients are taken aback when they see me,” he laughed. “I know I am not what one would imagine a baker to look like but I think it makes me stand out more and hopefully people remember me.”
Meyer, an avid sportsman, was just 15 when he got his first tattoo of his idol, Kurt Cobain. Now, at age 34, he has a total of 11 tattoos, including one of Elvis Presley.
While Cupcake Friday specialises in wedding and birthday cakes, Meyer has found a niche market in divorce cakes.
“A client once ordered a heart-shaped cake for his girlfriend for their anniversary but they broke up the night before. He asked if I could split the cake in half and send one half to his ex-girlfriend. That’s when the idea about divorce cakes came to me,” he said.
Meyer said he often made cakes for bachelor or bachelorette parties, christenings or anniversaries, but nowadays divorces seemed to be more frequent.
“The most popular cakes at the moment are definitely my 3D cakes.
“The young girls love the 3D Hello Kitty cake.
“My favourite was when I made a pool table for a client. The pool balls were made out of truffles and the pool cues were made out of chopsticks.”
He said while chocolate would always be a firm favourite, red velvet cakes and cupcakes had taken off in Port Elizabeth.
“Because kids often buy a cupcake to simply lick the icing off, I pipe chocolate into the centre. That way they eat the whole thing.”
Meyer came up with the name “Cupcake Friday” because he received the majority of his cupcake orders on a Friday.
While Meyer currently works from his Mount Pleasant home, he said his ultimate goal was to occupy separate premises.