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It was no piece of cake

If you could have a fresh start at the age of 30, would you change anything in your professional career? Christiane Carvalho Hedlund, a Brazilian from Sao Paulo, was given the opportunity and decided to follow her dream of baking cakes for a living. Today, at the age of 37, she is the artist behind the renowned Berliosca Cake Boutique.
In a mouth-watering chat, Hedlund shared her story: a young woman who once made cakes for fun and didn’t want to leave Sao Paulo and how she turned into the successful business woman she is today. Her cakes are known worldwide and surprise people with their meticulous details. Hedlund had to work hard to achieve a subconscious dream that laid dormant for nearly three decades.
Brazilian VibeA A How was your life in Brazil? Did you always make cakes?
Christiane Carvalho HedlundA A I have an undergraduate and a graduate degree in marketing and events. I never worked as a baker in Brazil. I used to make cakes for friends and family. I have always liked deserts, but it had to be a pretty desert. I didn’t want a simple flan, it had to be an embellished flan.
BVA –A Why did you decide to give up your career and start a cake business?
CCHA –A I first came to Canada in 2004 to study English and that’s when I met my ex-husband. He is Canadian, but we got married in Brazil and lived there for a while. When we decided to move to Canada I was given the opportunity to start from scratch.
It’s easy to know what you don’t like, but to find what you like is much more complicated. Everybody knows what they want to do, but often it’s in your subconscious.
My mother showed me several books and videos of Ana Maria Braga that had everything to do with what I do today, but it was in my subconscious and I couldn’t remember. That’s when I realized that making cakes for a living was possible.
BVA A How was your adaptation to Canada?A
CCHA It was a shock when I first moved to Canada. None of my recipes would work. I couldn’t find ingredients and the flour was different. I thought, my god, I will never be able to bake a cake in this land.
I started making cakes for family and friends and I also gave away a lot of cakes as presents. They were small and simple. I didn’t have many friends here, only my ex-husband’s family.
After several frustrated attempts at making cakes, I decided to get a job at a pastry shop to learn how people make cakes here, learn local recipes and taste. At first it was a big shock, you know, for someone who used to work in an office in Sao Paulo it was a big change.
BVA –A Where does the name Berliosca come from?
CCHA –A Berliosca is not a word that can be easily pronounced. Neither is it a Brazilian name. I chose this name from a book I read when I was only nine years old at school. It is not a famous book, but it certainly had an impact in my life.
One of the characters was Madame Berliosca, an old lady that smelled like vanilla. I have an image of her in my head. She was a chubby old lady and had a pastry shop that sold cake and pies. Somehow, because of this book, I thought I had to be an old lady to be a cake maker.
BVA –A What was the first cake you ever sold in Canada?A
CCHA –A It was a cake for one of my ex-husband’s cousins. I only charged her $35 to make a cake shaped like a zebra. At that time I had no idea how much work that was, and because I didn’t realize the difficulty and how many things could go wrong, I wasn’t afraid of making it. If I were to make the same cake again with the experience I have today I wouldn’t do it for less than $600. I didn’t know about pricing at the time, it was even before I worked at the pastry place.
BVA –A What was the most challenging cake you ever made?
CCHA –A It’s hard to choose one because they are all different, my last cake is always the hardest. But if I had to choose one in terms of how challenging it was, not its technicality, I would say the cake shaped like a piano.
I am a perfectionist; a piano has 88 keys and so did this cake. I am very proud of it. And when the customer came to pick up the cake he was just standing still, not saying anything. I was so scared. But then he said: “I didn’t imagine it would be so perfect,“ It was a great relief.
Photo by: Lucas Socio

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