Misfit of the Month July 2018
This month we're licking our lips at the deliciously dark work of Conjurer's Kitchen. Scroll on if you want to see some jaw-dropping wedding cakes and magnificently macabre munchables as we probe the mind of their creator...
Can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Annabel de Vetten (aka Annabel Lecter) and I run the Conjurer's Kitchen, where all sorts of magical and mysterious edibles are created. I specialise in all things alternative, mostly with a touch of 'darkness'…
How long have you been doing this, where did it all begin?
I've been doing this for about 7 years now. It all started when I made our own wedding cake. We had a DIY wedding on a budget and I'd always liked to bake, so I figured I'd give it a go! As my husband and I are both magicians (he's professional, I'm the hobbyist) our wedding cake theme was magic.
Turns out I was quite good at the whole cake decorating thing and soon orders started coming in from friends. Looking at it now it's my least impressive cake; however, it's the most important. Without that one I wouldn't be doing what I do today.
I eventually quit my job (I was a fine art painter) and took up cakes full time. My personality and interests soon started reflecting in my cakes and to my delight people loved (and bought) my unusual and bizarre cakes. I know there's a few weird cake makers now, but at the time there weren't too many, especially not one that mainly focussed on the darker themes.
Things soon started escalating in to the more weird, creepy, and macabre. As my style started becoming established, my customer base and their requests became weirder and creepier. I was delighted! Now, there really isn't anything too weird for me. I draw the line at crass, coarse and nasty themes.
I always add an element of beauty, no matter what the subject. Even my anatomical cakes can be appreciated by people who usually aren't in to that kind of thing. I'm very proud of that and feel it's opened up my 'audience' and people feel less scared to commission something out of the ordinary. I love my customers.
What sort of items can people buy from Conjurer’s Kitchen?
All sorts. Cakes for all occasions, unusually shaped chocolates, biscuits, marshmallows, popcorn, bread sculptures. The list goes on. I'm always up for trying something new.
What inspires you and your work?
I get my inspiration from all manner of things. It's really hard to put down in an answer. Of course art and film inspires me, but also completely random things like a vintage plate or something. I often see something and think "I must cake that". I love collaborating with other artists, making edible versions of their work. Same goes for my anatomical creations, I go to a medical museum and my head explodes with ideas. Memento More sculptures and jewellery also features heavily in my work.
Which of your creations are most popular at the moment?
Skulls. People love skulls. And rightly so! Haha! I never have a single thing that's popular at one particular time, which I quite like. So I never have to repeat the exact same creation.
Unless it's for the PR jobs I do, then I often have to make a a lot of the same pieces which are then sent to the media.
I also host events at cinemas which I call Movie TasteAlongs. Basically, I screen a film of my choice and create a few tasters which are my edible interpretations of several scenes in the film. We pause the film at those scenes and serve the taster treats. They are very creative interpretations, if there is food in the film I'd never just recreate that. For instance, the film Se7en. I created all the sins in food. We add a bit of theatre to the whole event too. These events are really popular, I usually sell out. I've done them in cinemas in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Los Angeles. And in a cemetery in Bristol. I love doing them!
Do you have a favourite style/material/design? (Both to make and to look at!)
Marzipan. I love marzipan, to eat and everything I can do with it. It's the best.
Are there any subcultures or wedding themes you feel your work is particularly suited to?
To be honest, I'd like to think I can create things for most themes that are of an alternative style. I probably struggle a bit with the cute Kawaii style, lots of sugar flowers etc but I have cakey colleagues I can recommend if I feel I won't do it as well as them.
Without giving away your secrets, can you tell us a bit about your work process?
I really don't use anything different that other cake makers use. Same with the skills. They're not unusual. It's just what I do with them that makes my work very much my own. I do feel I might work a little slower than some. I usually say that most cakes take me about three days. But very long days, often 12 hours +. Of course some of the decorations can be started well in advance, like the chocolate skulls, they take ages. But the problem with cakes is that they have a shelf life and you have to work as close to the deadline as possible.
Do you take custom orders? If so, what sort of customisations can be requested?
I do. Like I said before, I accept most commissions, but I draw the line at crass cakes (like genitals and ones with unpleasant messages). I do love getting commissions that are very personal to the customer, this allows me to create something I would never have thought of myself!
What is the weirdest, or most interesting/unusual, project you have worked on?
Most of them! Usually the last cake I did. This is pretty much the hardest question to answer.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Being able to express myself, my interests and having people who want them!
What can customers expect from you and your work?
Good customer service, quality products and an enjoyable experience from the moment they place the order to the final product.
My customers and I often become friends and it's not unusual that I'm invited to whatever function they're having the cake for! It's fantastic!
Do you have any tips or advice for brides/couples planning an alternative wedding?
Be yourself. Don't let your 'normal' relatives and friends influence your choices. By all means, don't give your grandma a chocolate skull or an edible bleeding anatomical heart if that's not what she's into, but there's always a way to accommodate those relatives. And don't be weird for weird's sake. If you love bunnies but also skeletons, find a way to incorporate both. That's what makes your day unique.
Amazing work! Thanks Annabel!
If all of that has made you peckish, you can pick up some macabre snacks from the Conjurer's Kitchen shop
Also take a look at our blog on Annabel's Horror Inspired Tattooed Wedding Cake
And, in case you're wondering where the white wedding cakes are.... Conjurer's Kitchen have been known to make the odd white cake too!
But we'll leave you with a bit more weirdness! :)