Dorking cake maker Emma Fuller on a decade in business
PUBLISHED: 06:51 30 December 2019
A former AA restaurant and hotel inspector-turned star baker, Emma Fuller of Dorking's Velvet Fig is celebrating 10 years of running her cake-making business
Hidden away in the thriving food and drink hub of Dorking is the charming Velvet Fig cake studio, where Emma Fuller bakes the most show-stopping creations. A passionate foodie, Emma's career included stints as a restaurant manager at Harrods and as an AA inspector of restaurants and hotels, before she launched her own business in 2009.
"Like so many people, the change of direction came about because I wanted a business of my own that I was passionate about and which would allow me to work around my family," says Emma. "I haven't looked back since. I rebranded as Velvet Fig in 2016 because things had grown so much from the kitchen table business I'd started. I was working with clients around the world and wanted a name that had a clear and strong identity."
Today, Emma's gorgeous creations are in popular demand for weddings, birthdays, garden parties, cake fairs and cookery demonstrations far and wide. "People often presume at this time of year that I'll be running around making Christmas cakes but the work for those has usually been done long before we reach the festive season," says Emma. "While I tend to focus on more traditional cakes using on-trend colours, I'm constantly amazed by the brilliant creations people come out with, inspired by programmes like Great British Bake Off and Extreme Cake Makers.
"This Christmas, I think we'll be seeing everything from drip cakes and gingerbread layer cakes to humorous designs with Santa's feet sticking out of them (seriously, they can look great!)."
In addition to running her own business, Emma remains busy with other projects, too. As well as being a freelance food consultant, she also provides her home economist expertise for masterclasses, workshops and photo shoots. This range of talents allows her to constantly be flexible with Velvet Fig.
"It's interesting how habits have changed since I first started the business," she says. "People used to always get in touch a few months in advance if they wanted a bespoke cake, but now I'll often get requests for the following week. I'm lucky that I can usually balance things and make that work, but there's definitely been a change in expectations."
Emma also offers bespoke workshops at her Dorking studio. Classes can range from those for skilled chefs looking to round off their baking skills to birthday celebrations with plenty of prosecco and children's parties. "It's so much fun and constantly keeps me on my toes," she laughs. "If I can help to create a unique and celebratory day for someone I'll always try to."
With Emma having formerly been an AA inspector, we can't help but wonder if there's anywhere in Dorking she would recommend for a celebratory evening out?
"I'm so lucky, as The Queen's Head pub is just around the corner and it has been completely transformed. I take all my friends there. Then, for a really special occasion, there's Sorrel, which has a well-deserved Michelin star. I'm hoping to get another chance to go back there soon."
And with that, Emma heads back into her studio to put the finishing touches to her latest masterpiece. This is one star baker who comes highly recommended.