All hail the cake king: Andy Bowdy talks sugar haters, social media and what's next
The master cake maker has close to 40k followers on the social media platform, who rush to like his Willy Wonka-esque creations - cakes piled high with torched meringue, raspberries and cocoa nibs, gushing with chocolate mousse and vanilla cream and oozing dulce de leche, peanut butter or even baked cheesecake. Insane? Yes. Delicious? Undoubtedly.
Bowdy (real name Andrew Bowden) developed his signature OTT style while at Newtown eatery Hartsyard, where he was given free rein to create pretty much whatever he liked. His peanut butter and banana sundae gained him the kind of notoriety that quickly spins into mini-celebrity status, leading to him leaving Hartsyard to focus on the cakes that made him practically a household name. We chatted to the chef about his inspiration, diabetes fears and what he has in the works (hint: it's all your foodie dreams come true).
On how he started out:
"I'd always been a big Christine Tosi fan, from [New York bakery] Milk Bar, and I developed my own style from there - but instead of buttercream, I was more interested in transforming flavours and adding textures. It's easy to make a cake look impressive but at the end of the day, you've still got to eat it."
Related story: The top 5 Instagrammers turning baking into an art
On what he refuses to decorate a cake with:
"I'm not a massive fan of putting toppers on cakes or 'happy birthday' plaques - I say I won't do it. The top of my cakes are jam-packed already, it's just me being stubborn - I don't think it works aesthetically."
On how he chooses his flavour combinations:
"When I cook things, I don't look at the ingredients, I just think about incorporating things like salty and creamy elements and pairing flavours together - so if I put salted potato chips on top of a cake, I know they're just going to add salt and crunch, they're not going to change the flavour profile of the dish too dramatically. I like to work with nostalgic flavours - things you weren't allowed when you were younger. My mum wouldn't let me eat Fruit Loops - I could have Coco Pops, but not Fruit Loops - so now I'm obsessed with them."
On that time he said no to a customer request:
"Usually I do what other people ask for, but I've had some people ask for things that really don't go together, like Redskin ganache with Golden Gaytime flavours - I had to decline."
On the health risks of making cakes all day:
"I do my best to try stuff and then spit it out, otherwise I'd be obese. I'm already sporting a D-cup, especially now that I'm working out of Messina!"
Related story: Are you game? The 5 most insane #Freakshakes in the country
On what he has to say to the sugar-shaming crowd:
"Your life choices are your life choices, just don't put them onto anyone else. I've eaten sugar my whole life and I'm fine, I don't get where it's all come from all of a sudden."
On how social media has helped fuel his success:
"When I started I was completely against Instagram; my girlfriend told me to get it. But it really builds your profile and gets your stuff out there."
But isn't he afraid of copycats?
"It's going to happen. Some cakes are easier to replicate than others - mine have sauces, textures and creams going on, inside as well as on top, so they're a lot harder. So far I've only seen one person pull it off really well, to the point where I saw it and thought, I don't remember making that."
On his favourite dessert:
"My nan's chocolate mousse. She used to make it with Toblerone. I really like Toblerone so I try to stay away from it. Apart from that, I'm a massive dessert snob."
And what's in the works:
"I'd like to start my own space. I have an idea in mind to recreate something that brings back childhood memories, but I need a specific site. It will include savoury food as well... I can't say much more that that."
Buro 24/7 Selection