Shoes that are actually cake? A sanitizer bottle being cut to reveal layers of cake inside? A ball of wool that’s not a ball of wool but a cake? One of the top viral videos of 2020 with millions of views worldwide showed these stunning life-like sculptures being cut to reveal their edible truth inside. Remarkably, after 15 years of designing artistic cakes, it took a pandemic for their creator Tuba Geçkil to achieve ‘overnight’ worldwide fame.
Tuba, a 43-year-old award-winning and record-breaking cake artist and educator from Istanbul, started cooking when she was 12 years old. Born and raised in the city of Eskisehir in Turkey, she grew up in a family of foodies and artists, and enjoyed being in the kitchen. Though she never received training as a pastry chef, she began preparing delicious cakes early on.
Tuba was also an exceptional artist in her youth, adept at oil painting and watercolor, and had many art exhibitions to her credit. As she grew older, her love for painting and baking came together seamlessly. “I really enjoy decorating cakes,” Tuba tells eShe. “I learnt to use sugar paste and combined it with food dyes.”
After marriage, Tuba moved to Istanbul, where she now lives with her husband and two sons, ages 20 and 13. Her first artistic cake was made for her son’s birthday 15 years ago. “I wanted to give him a nice surprise and make the exact same Disney McQueen toy car, which he loved very much. I remember telling myself that the size of the cake should not have a limit; I should be able to do anything I wanted with the cake,” she narrates.
The guests at her son’s birthday party were astonished at her lovingly created work of art, and began placing orders for their own parties. Soon she had a large and growing customer base. For several years, Tuba’s husband was her only supporter, helping her bake intricate and delicious creations.
Then, gradually, as the number of orders grew, she got herself a team, including a photographer. Her husband continues to help and manage Tuba’s cake art enterprise Red Rose Cake.
Her range of designs began growing over the years along with the orders. Each life-like cake she makes is different from the other. “I can make a cake that looks like a realistic apple in about two hours. But a cake that looks like a computer or other detailed objects can take up to four hours,” she says.
Tuba, whose own personal favourite cake flavour is caramel and chocolate, soon became famous in Turkey, even among artists and celebrities, who would place orders for exotic designs for special occasions. Her cakes range from $100 to $1,000.
“I make many types of cakes such as bust cake, 3D cake, gravity cake, simulation and life-sized cakes,” says Tuba, who is the chief of the National Team Cooks Federation of Turkey, and participates in the pastry category in culinary competitions held around the world.
She has won dozens of gold medals in major international competitions, including for a bust cake of German chancellor Angela Merkel that she made four years ago at the prestigious IKA Olympics, the oldest, largest and most diverse international culinary arts competition in the world.
“I made four bust cakes of four different people, and won medals for them all. I broke a record,” she says.
She not only simulates politicians but also famous artists, scientists and statesmen in her life-like cakes and also conducts workshops across Europe in the art of realistic cake-making.
“I am proud of myself in this regard because I work very hard,” says Tuba with the conviction of a woman who has achieved success after sleepless nights of grind and labour.
“I would work all night until morning, not going on vacations or even having a weekend break. But I never complained because I hoped that, one day, I would get my due,” she shares.
The Covid epidemic badly affected Tuba’s cake business just like it took a toll on businesses worldwide. With people staying home during the quarantine, her cake orders dwindled. But Tuba wasn’t one to sit by idly.
“I spent this time doing the work I wanted to do in the past. I made Crocs slippers as a cake. Later, I made funny Covid-themed works. I also made cake replicas of everyday household supplies such as detergent, toilet paper, soap and disinfectants. I started uploading the videos online and they reached millions of people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It just went viral. I couldn’t believe how suddenly it all happened. I am extremely happy that my cakes are being talked about all over the world,” she beams.
With fame in the past few years and especially now after the pandemic and her viral videos, Tuba has become an extremely busy woman, and only focuses on what she wants to do and loves to make. Every day has a sweet ending if your profession and passion are one.