A former couture designer turned luxury cake maker has revealed how she makes her fortune creating custom bakes for some of the world’s most pampered children.
British mother-of-three Debbie Wingham, 36, launched her baking career creating the world’s most expensive cake – a diamond-covered showstopper – for £48.5million and now caters for the rich and famous – and their offspring.
Her previous customers include the pop singer Drake – for whom she made a dark chocolate cake in the shape of a Rolex watch – and the teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber.
Around 20 percent of her business, though, is children’s birthday cakes and christening cakes. When it comes to the former, she has discovered that age is no barrier to strong ideas and says they’re some of her most demanding customers.
Cake maker to the stars! Debbie Wingham launched her career by make the world’s most expensive cake which was valued at £48.5m and covered in diamonds
Debbie created a cake for Justin Bieber which included a working microphone that played music as well as replicas of his favourite items of clothing
Rapper Drake opeted for a dark chocolate cake which featured a Rolex watch and his favourite letterman jacket
This is part of the eye-poppingly extravagant world into which we are afforded a fascinating insight courtesy of Channel 5 documentary Billionaire Babies: 24 Carat Kids.
A world where baby showers and children’s birthday parties – or the cake alone – costs the same price as the average new car, and where little princesses sleep in designer beds complete with gold leaf murals.
The new series gives a glimpse into the exceptionally privileged lifestyles of some of Britain’s wealthiest youngsters, as the cameras follow some of the people who cater to their every whim.
In the documentary Debbie is commissioned to make a cake for the fourth birthday party of a little girl – to be held at a splendid five star hotel in Cumbria – who has provided her own drawings and mood board.
The overall feel is not dissimilar to an explosion in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
‘It was basically candy loony land,’ says Debbie. ‘In the end the cake stood taller than she was.’
In the new Channel 5 series in which she stars, Debbie is commissioned to make a cake by a four-year-old who wants it to have a working sweet dispenser
The cake, which is inspired by Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, ends up standing taller than the four-year-old
Then again Debbie, originally a coal miner’s daughter from Yorkshire, is used to the ante being endlessly upped whatever her client’s age.
‘A lot of my clients are quite competitive,’ she acknowledges.
‘A good percentage of them are wealthy and when it comes to cakes they’re going bigger, better, more bonkers, more special effects. I don’t think they even know if they’re being competitive, but they are.’
That means coming up with something new – not always the easiest thing when something not only has to look good but taste good too.
But then Debbie – who also, alas, will not be drawn on budgets, other than to say her cakes ‘cost a couple of quid to say the least’ – is nothing if not determined.
For the four year old’s cake she managed to incorporate a working sweet dispenser within what proved to be a ten tier confection.
Debbie models a wearable handbag cake that she made that comes complete with a leather strap to hold it up as it is so heavy
‘There is always a hold your breath moment when you wonder if it is actually going to work, although thankfully it did,’ she says.
For one demanding client Debbie baked a christening cake for their newborn baby daughter in the shape of a rotating Faberge egg which, when opened, revealed a pink diamond christening bracelet inside.
For another client, she provided a series of cakes in the form of mini versions of her mum’s designer handbags (including a Birkin Hermes) to mark her six year old daughter’s birthday.
The mother-of-three was a former couture designer who has also made the world’s most expensive dress and shoes
‘At that party security was so tight that they had the equivalent of an airport security conveyer belt in order to get in,’ she says.
‘The bags were so realistic that they wanted to put them through.’
Innovate innovate, that’s Debbie’s motto: she travels the world sourcing the rarest, finest ingredients to gave her cakes a bit of extra oomph.
‘I recently stumbled across Gold Sal, gold-leaf coated fleur de sel which is the world’s most expensive salt,’ she confides.
‘It’s £200 a jar but it has a complex flavour and makes for a more delicate salty flavour which has proved popular with my clients. They can say they have the world’s most expensive salted caramel as frosting in the cake.’
Some might say the proverb ‘a fool and his money’ springs to mind. Certainly, where there is money to be spent there are no shortage of places to help you spend it.
At the Savoy, its flagship £6,500 a night suite is frequently booked out by families, and head butler says in the documentary it considers it a privilege to serve the tinier residents.
‘We love children in this hotel – we’re not a typical English hotel where we hide children away,’ he says.
‘The last family we had in the suite I had tents set up for them, I had computer games ready for them, special menus for the children on arrival and bathrobes and slippers. They usually have a entourage with nannies and so forth but it is our responsibility to ensure they feel welcome and that they are seen and heard.’
In this world, of course, there seems to be little danger of that. The more pressing question, indeed, may be what on earth will the little scions expect next?
‘You do sometimes think that if the parents are doing this for a fourth birthday then what on earth will they do for the eighteenth,’ says Debbie.
‘They’re certainly very lucky kids.’
Billionaire Babies: 24 carat kids is on Channel 5 tonight at 8pm