~ The secret ingredients are love & understanding ~

The first thing you notice when you enter the little cake shop on Bush Road is the aroma. The sweet smell gently greets you, encircles you, welcomes you into the world of Kurt West. This chef and master baker loves what he is doing and knows how to turn that passion into a business.

How to describe the items for sale at Cakes & Bakes? Simply stated in just two words: Delicious and beautiful. For functions, celebrations or just for a sweet midday snack, stop by Cakes & Bakes between 9:00am and 6:00pm Tuesday through Saturday and get to know this talented baker while savoring the products of his labors. The Grand Opening is planned for the end of March, but the store is open for business just this week, and so far, clients are coming in, curious, hungry, and hopeful for how he can help them with upcoming events.

Kurt is originally from Trinidad and trained under Theresa Sealy at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute. While he was there he received awards for best baker, best event planning, and most outstanding student. After completing his studies at the institute, he opened his own business catering events in Trinidad.

Soon after that he was given the opportunity to relocate to Toronto, Canada, to work with the acclaimed celebrity chef Mark McEwen. This began Kurt’s whirlwind career where he moved with McEwan from project to project. He worked at the famed North44 Restaurant, the ByMark Restaurant and on various large scale catering assignments, “Whenever Mark moved to a new restaurant he would take me with him,” said Kurt. During those years he also worked with Executive Chef Harold Sena-Akoto. Eventually Kurt opened his own business for cake decorating in Toronto.

During this time he was also helping to mentor unfortunate youth. “For about 15 years I helped with the Children’s Aid Society, doing foster care and teaching the older youths how to cook, budget, shop for themselves and keep up with appointments, schoolwork, etc. “At 16 years old, if they should reach a certain level of maturity they would come to me and I would then help them get ready for independent life, because by 18 they had to live on their own, so it’s important they get some assistance. These are kids from troubled homes, so they needed to be given that extra help.”

Kurt fell in love with St. Maarten as a teen when he would visit his father who lived here. Throughout his life he always came back to the island for visits and when his father fell seriously ill in 2000 he came more often, and eventually moved here. Though his father did pass on, Kurt is here to stay, and hoping to contribute to the community, starting with this cake and pastry shop, and later offering lessons for others to learn the skills.

A typical day in the life of Kurt West starts early. He is in the shop by 6:30 getting things ready, “I do things the way I like it myself, I like to change things up all the time, and I always add in a lot of love and understanding.” Kurt says he is not at all competitive, “I love dealing with people, so I will eventually get back into catering, but I am so happy with the cakes, I have a lot of patience for the details in the big cakes, I make all the flowers by hand from icing, you can eat them or save them. They will last. I enjoy the creativity, I get in a zone and the hours fly by!”

Kurt offers a selection of local pastries such as currant rolls, coconut tarts or different kinds of cakes sold by the slice. “I plan to set up a patio area where there will be some nice tea or coffee selections, so it will be local pastries presented gourmet style.” The ebb and flow of life’s tides have taken Kurt from the Caribbean and back again, but always there is the passion for creating beautiful cakes, beautiful and delicious!

Stop by Cakes & Bakes at #46 Bush Road, right next to the Daily Herald, to see and smell and taste for yourself. Kurt is the man when it comes to celebration cakes big or small! Currently open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9:00am – 6:00pm. Longer hours coming soon. Phone 526-9735 or email cakesnbakessxm@gmail.com to arrange your cake creation!

Source: Daily Herald