For Lillian Sibiya, the best thing about Christmas when she was growing up, was the chocolate cake her aunt baked every year and which was the centrepiece of the family’s festive table.

“It was the one thing I always looked forward to,” says Sibiya. ”My aunt was, and still is, such a great baker and she inspired me to want to be as good as her in the kitchen.

“When she left to go join the air force, I took over the reins and was put in charge of the Christmas chocolate cake and that’s how my love for cooking and baking really started.”

After matric, Sibiya went to university to study office management but didn’t enjoy the course at all.

“I just did it because I had to do something with my life,” she says. “I didn’t know much about culinary schools and we didn’t have access to the internet, so while I continued to bake for family and friends, I didn’t know that you could actually build a career from it.”

After leaving university and enduring a few jobs that did not excite or inspire her, Sibiya realised that what she wanted to do with her life was spend it in the kitchen creating delicious cakes and pastries.

“I started researching culinary schools and the minute I went onto the Capsicum Culinary Studio website I was enthralled. When I saw pictures of students in their chef whites, I not only knew I had found my school but that I had also finally found my calling.”

Sibiya enrolled at the school’s Johannesburg campus and in 2014 graduated with a Diploma in Patisserie.

“Studying at Capsicum was everything I had dreamed of and more. The lecturers were so knowledgeable and helpful and taught us so much, and I loved the fact that every Monday and Thursday I could take home some delicious treats and pastries for my family.”

After graduation Sibiya took up an internship at the One&Only in Cape Town where she spent six months in the pastry kitchen “working with the amazing Chef Rene Simatos”, before taking up a position as a commis chef for two years and then joining Nobu Restaurant as a Demi Chef de Partie where she stayed for five years, honing her craft.

“But opening my own business was always the ultimate dream for me, so when I found out I was pregnant, I decided to take the leap and quit my job to open a home-based cake business in my hometown of Polokwane. That way I could work and spend quality time with my daughter,” she says.

While Sibiya’s company – Beautiful Flower Cake – focuses mainly on bespoke cakes and pastries, she caters for parties, weddings, and business functions under the name The Belly Nice Chef. And, if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she also offers cake decorating classes.

When asked about future plans, Sibiya reveals that she recently collaborated with Konanai Spa to supply them with pastries and other baked treats for their guests and wants to grow that side of the business to the point where she can supply most, if not all, of the spas and hospitality businesses in Polokwane.

“On the cake-making side of things I want to be making more novelty cakes and I am planning on moving out of my mother’s kitchen and converting our garage into a cake studio, so I have more space to not only make cakes but also host cake baking and decorating classes.

“Finally, I want to give back to the community and be in a position where I can teach under-privileged children cake baking and decorating skills, and show them that there is a career in the culinary field.”

Sibiya can be contacted on 072 851 5650 or via her Facebook page and Instagram.

Lillian Sibiya’s 3 Ingredient Ice Cream

1 can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
300ml fresh whipping cream

Add vanilla essence to the cream and whip till soft peaks form.
Fold in condensed milk till well combined.
Freeze overnight and enjoy.

Chef’s note: You can make different flavours by adding other ingredients such as chocolate, mixed berries, crushed Oreos, caramel, honeycomb, etc.

Lillian Sibiya