TAKING THE CAKE
WORDS Andrew Wood
Christchurch-born, raised in Fairlie and Timaru, and now in London where he worked on the most important wedding cake of the year, Izaak Adams (Ngāi Tahu) is clearly going places.
Long before Prince Harry met Meghan Markle, the 29-year-old baker originally wanted to work in a more traditional artistic medium and had studied at Ilam – University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts. “I went to art school because I loved art and loved creating,” he says. “I studied sculpture but dropped out at the beginning of my third year. I was doing a lot of photography after that, but I realised I wasn’t fully committed and that fizzled out.”
Baking was a fallback, something Izaak had always enjoyed but never really taken seriously.
“I realised I needed something to focus on,” he says, “and that turned out to be baking. My Nana is an amazing baker and fed me constantly. I knew I loved to eat baking from an early age but it wasn’t until I needed to make a living that baking seemed like the most interesting and creative job I could do. I still needed to do something creative after art school and I loved food and it just seemed right to combine the two.”
A job at Vic’s Cafe led to his first proper baking job at Strawberry Fare, and then to Christchurch company J’aime les Macarons through a friend.
“I loved that they had brought a refined and experimental touch to the Christchurch baking scene. My friend Katie Kerr told me they were looking for a baker to help them out. When I met Amanda and Bridget I really wanted to work for them because they were smart, fun, driven and just really talented. They were very encouraging, and I loved working for them. And they let me eat macarons every day.”
Katie encouraged Izaak to up sticks and move to London, which like so many talented young Kiwis he did.
“Once I moved here,” he says, “I worked in some cute cafes as a baker and even worked in a cooking school some evenings. I worked at a very playful bakery called Sweet Things in Primrose Hill where they let me do some really crazy and creative cake decorating. But I wanted to be more connected to the baking process and applied for a Job at Violet.”
Violet Cakes, owned by the legendary East London trendsetter of baking Claire Ptak, is the company that made Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake.
“Claire really was the first person to encourage me to taste food rather than just eat it,” says Izaak.
Of course, he’s not allowed to talk about it. “All I can say is that I was honoured to be a part of the team that made the cake.” As for the future? “I would love to have a cookbook but it just seems that everyone is making cookbooks. At the end of the day, I just want to bake and feed the people in my life.”