I have never liked cake.
At my birthday parties, Mums knew to make me an ice cream cake. I simply couldn’t stomach the chocolate or vanilla sponge varieties that my siblings were treated to on their birthdays. I found all cake sickly sweet and..and…crumbly!
When I moved to George, I discovered this marvellous coffee shop, Beans About Coffee not far from where I live. They definitely serve the best coffee I have ever tasted. Their lattes are simply to die for!
While I was sipping a latte, my best friend, B, said to me through a mouthful of cake:
“I know you don’t like cake, but I defy you to turn your nose up at this carrot cake. Go on, give it a try.”
I gave a shudder as I placed the teeniest bit of carrot cake in my mouth. And then I stopped and really tasted it. It was quite simply ambrosial. I couldn’t suddenly be liking cake? Carrot cake! I disliked all vegetables, for goodness sakes!
I took another bigger bite of the carrot cake. It had a delicious taste. It was moist, fresh and I loved the decadent cream cheese icing. I simply adored this cake full of a vegetable I wasn’t particularly fond of.
How did carrot cake come into being, I pondered. I was utterly amazed to discover that carrots have been used as a sweetener in cakes ever since medieval times. The oldest known recipe for carrot cake dates from 1892, in a book on housekeeping from Switzerland.
In World War 2, the popularity of carrot cake was revived because of rationing. Carrot cake even helped the British stop the Blitz! In 1941, the British developed a unique radar system, to help the Royal Airforce spot Luftwaffe planes at night. As a means of keeping it secret, the British government ran a campaign stating that the citizens should eat more carrots. The totally fabricated reason given was that carrots made you see better at night. With the Luftwaffe being spotted time after time at night, the German command fell for the plot. It had to be because the Brits were seeing better because of carrots! As a result, the sale of carrots skyrocketed in both Germany and England! The making of carrot cake increased. The Blitz came to an end in May of that year!
I asked Stefan, the owner of Beans About Coffee who made his carrot cake.
“I get it from Tyrone,” he said handing me a card.
Prince of Tarts was printed on the front and on the back was Tyrone’s cell phone number. I phoned him instantly and we arranged to meet. Where? Beans About Coffee, naturally!
I was approached by this gentle looking man with eyes that danced.
“Gaynor?” I nodded, smiling, “I saw you scanning the restaurant and thought you were perhaps looking for me.”
We shook hands and made our way to a table.
“What are you having?” I asked, “I’m going to indulge in their gorgeous hot chocolate and have you tried their carrot cake? It is divine,” I said laughing.
“A cappuccino and may I share the carrot cake with you? I believe they do really big slices here!” he said, returning my laughter.
“How did it all begin,” I asked about to take my first blissful mouthful.
“I always loved good food and enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen from an early age.”
I ate his share of carrot cake and listened as he filled me in.
“Tyrone, I need you to do me a big favour,” his mother stared at him intently. “I would love to go away for four days but I feel terrible deserting my stall on Saturday.” His mother ran the Saturday morning pastry stall at Wild Oats Market in Sedgefield. “Do you think you could take over for me this Saturday?”
He knew exactly what to do. He had watched and helped his Mum get her pastries ready week after week.
“No problem,” he said, his big grin spreading.
What fun he had preparing the pastry stall that Saturday. Milk tarts, pecan nut pies, apple tarts and lemon curd tartlets were conjured up with surprising ease. (My carrot cake had not yet made it’s appearance in Tyrone’s life!) He actually ended up making more than his mother usually made that Friday evening. The next day at Sedgefield Market, he sold everything!
The bug had bit!!!
He started to regularly assist with the baking and selling of tarts at the Market. His mother, who had studied at hotel school, was against Tyrone making a career in the food industry. She knew what hard work it entailed. Tyrone thought differently.
He saw the potential of running his own business. About three and a half years ago, Tyrone decided to ‘confront the lion in it’s den’. He made beautiful samples of his offerings and took them to all the coffee shops, restaurants and hotels he knew. Time after time, the door was very politely yet firmly shut in his face. Tyrone would give his wonderful produce to the homeless on the streets. Their pleasure did something to salve his pride. Then it was often onto his surfboard where his outmanoeuvring of the waves restored something of his confidence. Back into the kitchen once again to make more of his edible delights. The following day, the whole process would begin once more.
People couldn’t keep on shutting out his creativity. Eventually Shell at Kraaibosch, The Blue Olive Restaurant in Wilderness and Double Shot Restaurant In Plettenberg Bay decided to give this man a chance. They stocked and displayed his products which sold immediately. And they ordered more.
Tyrone was in business!!!
Once he got his foot in the door, others suddenly woke up and took note. I want to break into that song from Cabaret: ‘And the money kept pouring in from every side…..’ The money didn’t suddenly start pouring in, but the clients did. They saw a good thing and wanted to be part of it. I love Tyrone’s attitude when he said: “The growth of my business happened organically. It came about when the time was right.”
It took a lot of feeding the homeless and surfing to get his business on the go!
Since April 2017, Tyrone has been the co-owner of a registered company, ‘Prince of Tarts’. At Sedgefield Market, his mother was known as the Queen of Tarts. When Tyrone began helping her he was called the Prince of Tarts. A perfect name for the new company!
Tyrone is an idealist at heart. Too much of our food is produced in a way that is harmful to both animals and humans. The thought of chickens spending their lives in those concentration camp cages caused him to shudder. He would like to own a farm where he could grow and produce fresh ingredients. It would be bliss for him to have chickens scuttling past his rows of freshly planted carrots.
“Carrots,” I exclaimed, “tell me about the most important thing – your carrot cake!”
“One and a half hours are spent grating fresh carrots per day,” he replied. “Recently I have taken to reducing the amount of sugar I use. It’s a far healthier option. We bake six days a week. Often we work until midnight, or we start baking at 2 am. Mum was right when she said the food business is a tough life. But I’m happy, I’ve found my niche.”
He is passionate about his work. What he would ultimately love to do is have a large bakery where people can meet, relax, pick and buy fresh produce, learn how to bake bread. He wants to uplift others lives. Food can bring great enjoyment to people. Smiles ripple out. Seeing pleasure on peoples faces gives him happiness.
“I see how you have enjoyed my carrot cake and it makes me smile, inside and out.”
And Tyrone has that effect on people. I left Beans About Coffee that day, my craving for carrot cake satisfied. Tyrone made me smile.
Inside and out!
Tyrone can be contacted on 082 850 7292 / 044 873 2843 / firstname.lastname@example.org
This carrot cake is definitely the best in the whole world!
Sounds great. Just as well I don’t live in George I would be putting on even more weight!
ah Gaynor, I so love your articles – this one in particular . What a lovely story … Tyrone is quite inspirational (as you are ) and loved learning about the origin of “seeing in the dark” myth – hahaha I was brought up on that, and in fact just last night my man and I were out at dinner and he didn’t eat his carrots and I told him he must, ‘cos it’ll make him see better in the dark 🙂 xxx
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