Slice of life

Everyone from David Beckham to The Admirable Chrichton MD Johnny Roxburgh has requested a creation from the Little Venice Cake Company. Jeremy King spends a day discovering why it’s the preferred choice of the A-list

10.30am Nestled in the picturesque confines of Manchester Mews, only minutes from the hustle of Oxford Street, is the headquarters of the Little Venice Cake Company (LVCC). Today it is a hive of activity as owner Mich Turner and her team, who have been in since 8am, prepare for a very important party.

11.00am Tonight in the Library Room at Claridges, the LVCC is hosting a party to celebrate the launch of its first book, Spectacular Cakes, written by Turner. It is already a sell-out in Britain, and is now being printed in Italy, Canada and the United States. This evening many of the company's clients and industry figures will be sampling a selection of the delicacies.

11.30am Turner and her team of eight are working flat out to prepare the cakes, which includes creating chocolate sauce to encase strawberries and creating floral patterns for the multi-tiered cakes that will be showcased this evening. "When preparing the chocolate it is important to temper it," says Turner. "It needs to be melted and brought down to a certain temperature to ensure it sets perfectly. If the temperature goes too low you have to temper the chocolate again, which can be laborious."

12.00pm While helping her team paint hundreds of chocolate drops and make an apricot coulis, Turner reveals how LVCC takes delivery of the basic cakes every Monday and then transforms them into 25 to 30 variously decorated creations each week.

12.30pm Since the company's beginnings at Turner's flat in Little Venice in 1999, LVCC's unique designs have established it as a market leader, providing cakes for the likes of Elton John, David Beckham, Harrods, Selfridges and GMTV's Kate Garroway. "I don't use any other cake companies as inspiration," says Turner. "My creations are influenced by what is happening around me, be it film, wallpaper, clothes or fashion. A lot of it is trial and error, seeing what goes with what colour and how it all works together."

1.00pm Engrossed in her work, Turner suddenly realises she has only minutes to get to her hair appointment. As she rushes out the door I catch a glimpse of the company's new branded van, which will be making its maiden voyage today. Despite this new acquisition the company relies heavily on couriers to deliver its goods to venues that do not have parking or loading access.
However, Turner assures me that measures are in place to ensure the safety of the cakes is never compromised. "We do not design any cake that cannot travel safely," she explains. "If there is a worry then precautions are taken. When we did the wedding cake for Pierce Brosnan I took two versions of the six-tiered cake with me to Ireland, in case of accidents."

1.30pm Half of the team starts to load the van that will go to Claridges, while the other half begins the final preparations for the evening. Staff members also have to field innumerable calls from people wanting to get on the guestlist.

2.00pm With her hair beautifully styled, Turner gets straight back into the action and hands her team the company's new purple blouses. She tells me that the staff requested them, and stresses how important it is that they not only feel part of the team, but are also multi-skilled. Florist, design and architectural talents are a must.

2.30pm With the van ready to go, and the clutter disappearing, the company base starts to resemble an office once again. Turner reveals this is one of the reasons why she is looking for bigger premises. "Image and location is important so it has to be near here," she says. "It is expensive, but we are only minutes from the West End, and celebrities like our current location because they can drive right outside and avoid being hassled by members of the public and the press."

3.30pm Everything is delivered to the hotel in good time, yet Turner admits to having butterflies. But before she has time to think about it she notices that the events team at Claridges has not set the tables out in the way she requested. After a swift discussion with the manager, the hotel team quickly sets about rectifying the problem.

4.15pm While her team begins to unpack the cakes and rebuild them on the hotel's furniture, Turner has a discussion with florist Paul Thomas about her floral plans for decorating the grand old Library Room, where the event is being held.

5.00pm As the final touches are made to the cakes, Turner gives everything one final inspection with her team before heading off to get ready for the party, which starts at 6.30pm.

5.45pm Glamorously dressed, Turner has one more job to do before the doors swing open for the guests. She listens to the soundcheck from one of Sternberg Clarke's bands before testing the same PA system with a practice run of her own introductory speech. Happy that everything is in place, Turner is now ready to welcome the evening's first guests.


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