Meet Cheryl Gerds

Chysil Creativ

Helderkruin, Gauteng

South Africa

 

See more of Cheryl's cakes at

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“As a sugar artist I love the quality of Bakels Pettinice which has helped me create edible art for more than two decades. Sharing my love for sugar art is my passion and Pettinice gives me cakes that look as good as they taste.”

Cheryl Gerd runs a small bespoke cakery called Chysil Creativ, a family business with a love for all things caking and creative.

Cheryl has won a few professional cake awards in taste and design. Her drive for her cake business has always been "More than just cake!" She believes cakes should not just be beautiful to look at, but should have flavour that leaves a lasting impression. Cheryl has spent years sharing her caking skills, training and hosting workshops at large venues like the Rand Easter Show and the Cake and Bake Show. Her cakes have graced some SABC TV Shows like Isidingo and Makiti as well as events like Jozi’s Finest Festival, the Pick n Pay Trade Show and the Wedding Expo. 

We had an opportunity to ask Cheryl a few questions about her cake journey.  This is what she had to say:

 

What is the very first cake you remember making?

First cake I think was probably the worst hedgehog you’ve ever seen, about 35 years ago. It was a chocolate cake with white chocolate buttons on top. Cake baking started with my twin daughters who are now 37 years old.

What was the defining moment you realized you would do this as a business? OR, Why/how did you become a cake decorator?

Chysil Creativ started with character sculpting with Fimo Clay more than 3 decades ago. Once I discovered fondant the more elaborate cakes just happened between cakes for various family members and then developed into wedding cakes. One of my twin daughters married a very clever guy who designed websites, he did one for me, I left the corporate world and began Chysil Creativ, a name combined by the obsession of “sculpting” little clay creatures out of Fimo and the combination of the name Chris (my husband) and Cheryl. So Chysil Creativ became a family business combined out of various talented family members.

What has been the most challenging cake you have made to date?

“Elizabeth”, a 7 tier wedding cake designed for a cake competition at the wedding expo. The theme was pattern play with a touch of metallic. I used pleated accents that depicted the classic notched lapels on the groom suit for the first tier. The floral leaf pattern was used in 3 different ways, with a painted leaf, plain white leaf and pink inlay in the leaf. The double tier in the centre was decorated with lace flowers, hand piped lace links and pearl dragee’s and was backed with a pleated bow to depict a lacy bridal dress. A copper metallic was used in various accents on the cake and sugar flowers. The cake won Best Tasting Cake and 2nd place in design at the expo and the real challenge came when two clients ordered the cake for their wedding. Making a cake dummy design is one thing, recreating the design in cake is another challenge. 

What was the last cake that made you cry? (from joy even!)

A carnival cake design for a 9 year old girl named Jenna. My eyes filled with tears when Jenna gave Chris and myself a huge hug and said, “I love you Aunty Cheryl, you’re going to make my birthday cakes forever”! Those are the cake moments I live for. This Carnival cake was recreated by Chysil Creativ, and sponsored by Bakels as a donation cake for the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital fund raiser. The cake was baked in Johannesburg, packaged and flown to Cape Town, decorated at another baking friend from Cake Matters bakery in Cape Town and then transported to the venue for the cake auction. 

What cake do you wish someone would order?

Definitely my steampunk wedding cake. I love its combination of brown, rose gold and red, that its just something different from a conventional white wedding cake but still has the elegance of wedding lace and beautiful red sugar roses. 

What is your favourite part / step of the cake decorating process?

I would say the sugar art, sitting peacefully at my counter creating cute sugar creatures for a birthday cake or beautiful flowers for a wedding cake and adding unexpected little details to those special cakes.

What do you listen to while you are decorating?

Meghan Trainor or an old movie that I’ve seen a dozen times because I can listen to the story but not watch it to know whats going to happen.

What is your favourite Pettinice colour?

Red, its a perfect red. Add a touch of pink pettinice and you have a pretty salmon pink, add a tiny touch of purple for a deeper red rose or a light airbrush on the tips of the flowers. Its awesome.

Do you make your own birthday cake?

Never. My daughter Marlene and Hubby Chris created the cutest elephant cake for my 50th.

What’s your favourite cake delivery story?

I would say the first wedding cake we had to deliver “long distance”. I think it was only about 80km one way, but what the client didn’t tell us was that the last 6km of road was a 4x4 track, literally. I nearly fainted. With a four tier cake, stack 2-2 tiers together with a 2 sided decor and the curtain down the side in sugar icing i was sure it was going to break apart. I gritted my teeth all the way. The cake was fine, set up perfectly with cupcakes to match the superhero, star wars two sided theme and the guest came to catch a peek. We left with compliments and a sigh of relief.

What’s something you wish people would know about your business?

How much time and effort a perfect sugar art cake actually takes. There is no magic fairy dust. That it takes the best ingredients and the best quality fondant like Pettinice, to make that perfect, and delicious cake, hence the price.

What’s the next decorating challenge that you want to learn to do?

Definitely pulled sugar roses, I am dying to work with pulled sugar creations and my dream would be a Cake and Fondant Training School for young and old, semi skilled and unskilled. Working with fondant is so much fun and so rewarding, everyone who loves to be creative should give it a try.

See Cheryl's cake tutorials here: