A year ago I’ve discovered the multi-talented and dynamic Andrea on the internet. A first for me… painting on biscuits?! I started following her on social media, and saw her ‘Alice in wonderland’ collection. It literally took my breathe away! I’ve decided, we need to know more about The Red Kitchen. I ordered the ‘Rock a Roll’ Biscuits for my husband’s birthday and not only was it so beautiful, but also brilliantly delicious!!!!!
Andrea was kind enough to let me into her space to document her process. What an amazing experience. Thank you Andrea! Do yourself a favour and follow her on facebook. You will be simply loving it!!
Q: Where did it all began?
A: I started baking from a very early age- I have a sweet tooth and my mom wasn’t the greatest baker then so I took over. 6 years ago a friend of mine gave me 2 cookie cutters from England (teacup and a teapot) That was when I started baking cookies and teaching myself how to ice and decorate them.
Q: Who inspired you to create and follow your ambitions?
A: I first watched a YouTube tutorial by SweetAmbs and was hooked but her style is very elegant and I wanted something else, I then found a cookier also from America called Arty McGoo, she changed everything for me as she paints on cookies. When I discovered I could use my art background together with my Chef’s diploma, my cookie world suddenly seemed endless.
My mom, Vicki Thomas, is an award winning internationally known botanical artist and she gave me a book about Chinese brush painting techniques. This style works incredibly well for cookies as it’s all about simple brush strokes and water colours. My mom definitely inspired my early cookie designs. My designs now are influence predominantly from nature, artworks and textile design.
Q: What did you do before you started with ‘The Red Kitchen’?
A: I worked in the beauty industry as a rep for a cosmetic company.
Q: Tell us more about your chickens….?
A: Ah, my really silly pleasure! I got my first 3 bantam chickens last year (Poached, Scrambled and Fried. Scrambled turned out to be a rooster so he became Roast and was roasted for dinner one night ) I now have another very beautiful rooster, Roosten Bieber and bossy boots Cupcake as well as a new chick (who gets a name once we know gender) I love my chickens, they follow me round the garden and eat from my hand and don’t mind if I pick them up for a cuddle.
Q: Are you the first person,…or only, in Cape Town painting on biscuits?
A: No, there are a few others I know of- Roxanne Floquet was probably the first, then me and Nessie Peevie (the Cake Witch) and the owner of Creative Cakepops. But I have no facts to prove this, only what I have seen on social media. I am pretty sure that they only do it occasionally as accompaniments to their cake orders whereas I tend to do it more often and with a far greater variety.
Q: The most challenging request by a client?
A: 3 spring to mind… The first time I was asked to do the Blue Willow pattern made me really excited and rather terrified as Blue Willow is intricate, precise and iconic.
Another was a set for a client’s best friend’s 40’th birthday. I painted each family member and their pets on cookies as well as a vintage bike, handbag, etc. Portrait painting is tough but on a 6cm edible canvass…
The other was a set for a North African hip hop DJ- the brief was complex as the client wanted me to incorporate a lot of ideas into the set and I had to find ways to make it all work together. I used Vintage Hip Hop posters as inspiration to make the set become a cohesive design. I was thrilled with the end result.
Q: Your 2 most popular requests?
A: Blue Willow and Star Wars.
Q: What is your secret for for a good shortbread?
A: The trick with cookies and baking actually is to start with great ingredients, a good recipe and control to stick to the recipe. Once you have mastered the basic techniques then by all means experiment. Baking is a science. My sugar cookie dough is same quantities butter and sugar with double the quantity flour; it makes stiff pliable dough that doesn’t spread when baking.
Q: Are there any new things you would like to explore in the world of baking? Or any new ventures for ‘The Red Kitchen’ in the future?
A: I want to experiment more with 3D cookies and eventually move into 3d cookie sculptures. My dream is to open up a cookie boutique with facilities for teaching and parties. A how to Cookie decorating book for South Africans, is also something I want to embark on.
C is for cookie and cookie is for me – the cookie monster
There is only one real happiness in life, and that is the happiness of creating – Frederick Delius