Kingsley: How did you get into baking?
Gloria Lee: It has been my hobby since I was really young. My mum is really good at baking. I started baking when I was ten. I tried a lot of times but failed.
I was seventeen when I started cooking officially.
Kingsley: Oh wow.
Gloria Lee: I found one of my friends called Mandy and she is really good at cooking as well. We used to attend the same class. She is from Taiwan and so we got to know each other and we found out that we have similar interests and she happened to live quite close to me.
Kingsley: Oh wow look at that
Gloria Lee: So that’s how it started. She actually mentioned about wanting to start a business in what I’m interested in. The thing is it took about one year until we were finally established.
Kingsley: Wait what’s the name of your friend?
Gloria Lee: Mandy
Gloria Lee: Mandy- m-a-n-d-y
Kingsley: Oh (I roll my eyes and grin) and the two of you, you met her in your class?
Gloria Lee: Erm, yeah, we knew each other in the first year.
Kingsley: Oh right.
Gloria Lee: Because I took a gap year before, so she’s graduated now.
Kingsley: Oh right, okay. So what are you studying at the time?
Gloria Lee: Marketing. She studied international business.
Kingsley: You said that when you were younger you used to bake stuff with your mum. Did you pick it up really quickly or was it just gradually?
Gloria Lee: Erm, I would say quite quick, watching her doing things and when I did it myself it was quite easy to me.
Kingsley: (I laugh) so inborn then?
Gloria Lee: (laughs) yeah…and I find it interesting as a hobby. I never thought to do it as a business, not until recently. I’m also planning to go to Paris after graduation le cordon bleu in France and have branches all over the world. It’s a cookery school.
Kingsley: Ooooo (the penny drops for me).
Gloria Lee: My friend is the one that introduced me to it.
(I ask her to spell this and it takes a while but I get there in the end).
Gloria Lee: I think it means cook in French.
Kingsley: So it’s a cooking school?
Gloria Lee: Yeah cooking and things like that.
Kingsley: So who came up with the idea of making it big?
Gloria Lee: Well we we’re both baking so I was like, “why don’t we just do it big?” and she was like “okay.” So once we designed our logo and then we did the copyright and also the trademark.
Gloria Lee: The trademark
Gloria Lee: I didn’t know students were allowed to apply for a trademark here.
Kingsley: How easy was it to get the copyright?
Gloria Lee: It was quite easy. Just submit your logo and subscription.
Kingsley: So what types of things did you bake? Did you have a particular set of people or demographic that you bake for?
Gloria Lee: Erm, just friends and family at the moment. Word of mouth yeah basically just them. We’re still doing the website.
Kingsley: Oh, okay so it’s still very much in construction.
Gloria Lee: Yeahh. Were thinking to make it really big even though it’s going to be successful in the future, were not going to…. We normally make the things ourselves. We make everything and that’s how we…customers. Everything is homemade, not using any artificial colourings or ingredients
Kingsley: Well that’s always a good thing anyway.
Gloria Lee: Yeah.
I fumble with the brown bag she brought, we laugh. I get the bag open and two small boxes are there.
Kingsley: Do you make the boxes?
Gloria Lee: Oh, no. I order it online. It’s so expensive to get boxes here, so I’m thinking of ordering them from china.
We (her and Mandy) were both from Taiwan bit I moved to Beijing when I was 9 so yeah, I know a lot about china.
Kingsley: So you moved to Taiwan?
Gloria Lee: My nationality is from Taiwan but I moved to Beijing.
Kingsley: Oh right (nods).
Gloria Lee: Do you want to get a fork or something?
Kingsley: Do you know what, I will, I will.
I rush off like an excited child and return with a fork a moment later. This is going to be a tasty experience. I open up the box and see the most beautiful tart.
Oh wow that’s so pretty
Gloria Lee: It’s the newest product available. This is my own design, I wrote the recipe.
Kingsley: Amazing. That is really cool. Okay I’m going to take some pictures.
(We both laugh)
Kingsley: Is there a particular name for this?
Gloria Lee: Erm, there is no name for it just yet; I’m calling a mint tart at the moment.
We go through the super secret ingredients which I actually can’t mention for confidentiality reasons. Even though the cafe we are in is so noisy there is a silence that is thickly cloaked with anticipation: the moment of truth, is this tart going to taste nice?
Gloria Lee: Do you like it?
Kingsley: It’s really nice
It’s really nice
I sound, a tad robotic but I actually can’t think of what else to say, my senses are being lulled into a reverie by this food.
Kingsley: So how much would you sell this for?
Gloria Lee: Since I just made it yesterday, I haven’t thought up a price yet.
Kingsley: Okay what about the other one?
I point to the cake.
Gloria Lee: 1.75p for a small one. We usually suggest for people to order a big one.
The prices she mentions varied from 18 pounds to 30 pounds but they were definitely worth it.
Gloria Lee: Mandy at the moment is abroad which means Ting has to deal with any orders, doing all the baking herself. I asked her if there is a clear differentiation between the two when they bake the things.
Kingsley: If you both made this cake would they taste exactly the same?
Gloria Lee: Not really. It’s really weird because even though we use the same recipes, different people make different tastes.
Kingsley: Yeah (nods).
Gloria Lee: I think mine is worse than hers!
I taste it.
Kingsley: It’s really nice!
Gloria Lee: Thank you. Which one do you like best?
Kingsley: Ooooo (it’s a very hard question).
I pick the tart.
Kingsley: Its very balanced … can’t really describe it.
(We both laugh)
Thank you, glad you like it.
Kingsley: There are certain events in the uni, would you be aiming to sell some of your delicacies there?
I’d prefer to use the website. One of my teachers said I just need to set up a table here and sell but I said, “what if it’s not sold out?” and she said “you can sell it for a lower price,” I wouldn’t want to make a loss. I prefer to take orders in advance. It just doesn’t work that way.
Kingsley: Yeah, there must’ve been a lot of cake?! (Laughing)
Gloria Lee: Yeaaaah! That’s how we put on weight!
Kingsley: Well you look alright, you haven’t eaten too much!
Gloria Lee: I need to control myself! (Laughing)
Kingsley: So at home, your fridges must be full with cake!?
Gloria Lee: Yes! My fridges would be empty without cake!
Kingsley: This is really nice! (Eating)
Gloria Lee: You’re the first one to taste this, this is the newest one.
Kingsley: Yay! (Punches the air) yeah this is my favourite one. Oh yeah, it doesn’t have a name yet does it?
Gloria Lee: No but you can give it a name.
Kingsley: Oh! Er?!
Gloria Lee: You should be good at this!
Kingsley: I should be!
Kingsley: I should be vain and call it the ‘Kingsley tart’ but no! (laughs) erm. Oh dear this is taking up more brainpower than I thought.
I run through the ingredients with her again trying to fish for an inspiring title.
Kingsley: (After what felt like forever I speak) the marvelous mint tart? (Laughter) it was pretty marvelous.
She writes down the name in Chinese.
Kingsley: Wow that’s the cookbook! So that’s like top secret!
Gloria Lee: Yeah it is! (Laughs)
She talks about how they make new recipes based on circumstance and general baking sessions. She says the mint tart she made for me was born out of the need to do something with her mint plant at home, which was overgrowing, so in a stroke of genius used it to cook. And what a result it was!
Gloria Lee: My mint was growing too much and I didn’t know what to do with it –
Kingsley: And that came out of it? (Points at the tart) So you made this like-yesterday?
Gloria Lee: Especially for you (laughing)
Kingsley: Ah! Look at that! Yay! Awesome!
I find myself saying “this is really good,” yet again. She humbly says “thank you.”In all honesty the tart and cake does taste that good. I tell her I’m going to keep the bag and the boxes in which the cakes came too just to show off to my friends when I do see their hungry faces. The packaging and presentation is second to none and adds to the experience. “My friends are going be like what’s this?” and I’ll say, “Its cake, you need to get some!”
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