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Ask the Expert: Interview with Gary of O'Carroll's Cakes

Ask the Expert: Interview with Gary of O'Carroll's Cakes

Tell us a little bit about yourself Gary? 
I originally trained as a pastry chef nearly 30 years ago in the UK, which is when I met my wife, who is Irish. We have four children and after the very first time visiting Ireland when the children were quite small, we knew that we would eventually live here one day. So we finally made the decision to relocate from the UK and settle in Killarney.  

When did you establish O Carrolls Cakes and why?
 

I set up O Carrolls Cakes in October 2012, but the story started one day a few years earlier when we were visiting Killarney. While travelling round the Ring of Kerry, we stopped off at a little cafe that served the most delicious tea and cakes, I got talking to the owner and suddenly it just made sense to do what I really enjoy - make and design great tasting cakes, desserts and patisserie. I am determined to keep the business small and driven primarily by word of mouth recommendations. In 2013, I was increasingly asked about doing wedding cakes, so I moved into a small commercial kitchen unit on Muckross Road, which is a great location as I deliver celebration and wedding cakes free of charge to all local hotels and restaurants. As a result, quite a few of the hotels in Killarney are now recommending O Carrolls Cakes to their customers for both celebration and wedding cakes.     

What are your favourite types of wedding cakes to make/create?
 
Definitely not boring ones! My favourite one at the moment is a simple textured buttercream wedding cake with a few fresh roses - its simplicity makes it so stunning. But I get the most enjoyment out of working with a couple to develop a brand new design or flavour combination. Its a great feeling when neither the bride nor I know what we will do at the beginning of the conversation and then after a couple of hours working through different ideas, it all becomes clear.   

What has proved the most challenging and fun in recent times? 
Well I have had a wedding cake ordered with three days’ notice before - that was quite challenging. I also had a lady who was obviously organising every aspect of her wedding, so she wanted the wedding cake to be a total surprise on the day - that was challenging, fun, and a little bit stressful too - even the invoice just said 'wedding cake' as I couldn't describe it to her beforehand!

When booking someone to make your cake what advice do you have for a couple?
   

I think the first thing I would have to say is that, when you meet the wedding cake maker, it can always help to bring a friend or relative along with you, to give you some advice. And most of all don't settle on the final design and flavours until you are totally happy. 
If possible, find a wedding cake supplier that someone you know has used before, or if this isnt possible then at least have a look at examples of their work and feedback from previous customers. 
Always try to make sure you get some cake samples. I have so many couples that tell me about weddings they have been too when the cake might have looked nice, but it didnt taste that great. Also double check if there are any extra charges on top of the price quoted e.g. for delivery, set up, stand hire, different cake flavours etc. 

What trends are you seeing in the wedding cake industry as of late?
   
The naked wedding cake is still very popular and for a rustic themed wedding this style of wedding fits perfectly. The simple but effective textured buttercream cake also very popular, particularly when decorated with a few fresh flowers.  And wedding cakes decorated with edible lace always seem to be fashionable.
Other styles that seem to be becoming more popular are chalkboard cakes and coloured wedding cakes. I am also getting lots more requests for dessert tables as this style allows for lots of different flavours to choose from. 

Anything else you would like to add?
   

I am always keen to try new ideas for a couple, so I am currently working on some new designs and flavour combinations for 2016, which would be developed in more detail with each couple:
    

1) Designing the cake to fit with the couple's personality or inspired by a romantic story of how they met.  
2) Giving a modern twist to a nostalgic design. 
3) Non-traditional, bold, coloured cakes. 
4) Patisserie inspired wedding cakes. 
5) Smaller wedding cake with a selection of bitesize desserts. 
 

O Carrolls Cakes, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
Phone: 083 136 0996 
Website: www.ocarrollscakes.ie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OCarrollsCakes/
Twitter: @OCarrollsCakes

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