Known for his elaborate custom cakes, intriguing flavours, and rainbow-hued macarons, it’s fair to say Mark Tagulao is in demand these days.
Responsible for the ever-popular flavors behind Vancouver’s Cartems Donuterie as well as being a proud instructor with The Hungry Oven, a school dedicated to teaching children and young adults to cook and bake, he’s one busy guy who is definitely living the sweet life.
We recently caught up with Mark, who told us about what inspires him, what he loves most about his job, as well as his upcoming project Cake Love, an annual four day event with demos and classes open to the public, focused on the art of cake decorating.
What inspires you when you’re creating a new recipe?
For inspiration, I honestly think about where I’ve eaten, what I’ve eaten, favorites of my own, and try to adapt things I’ve seen… Honestly I’ll be just watching TV or doing yoga, on the bus or something, and an idea will come in my head sporadically. It’s really random.
When you’re not working, what’s something you love to make?
Dessert wise, I like Filipino desserts. Rice cake desserts and things like that. They’re quick and easy comfort food I guess. Or I’ll just head over to my parents house when I’m on a break.
Tell us about Cake Love.
I’m a member of the organizing committee of Cake Love. We are holding it this October, and we’re excited about the line-up of instructors we have. I actually have been looking through the classes that I want to take myself. This is the second year we’ve had it, and my part is the display cake. Satin Ice is our fondant provider, and we’re still working out details about who will be our sponsor this year. It’s really great to see how much it’s grown since last year.
Why is your work with The Hungry Oven so important to you?
One of the aspects of teaching at The Hungry Oven is that I get to teach. I’m sort of all over the place when it comes to what I do. I’m the type who gets bored easily, and I like to create. I find when I work on a project, and then it’s done, I can move on to something else. But with cake decorating, with teaching, recipe development – that’s what keeps me motivated and in tune with what I want to do. Just really having that diversity there. Just starting next week I’ll be starting food styling for an independent Vancouver based movie called John Apple Jack. I’ve just gone through the scripts and have filtered out what the aspects of the scenes will be.
Did you always see yourself in this career?
I was always in the kitchen with either my mother or my grandmother. Food has always been a passion of mine… but in terms of occupation, I’ve had a lot of jobs since then. It wasn’t my first and foremost dream that this would be my full-time, but now that it is I couldn’t really see what else I’d be doing. I think when you grow up in a family and you’re expected to be a professional, in terms of a dentist, or a doctor – something from the list. I don’t know, I think with some of the success that has come about with the work I’m doing now, my parents have sort of warmed up to what I’m doing now.
Do you ever get any weird project requests?
It’s always the erotic cakes. I don’t post them online, ‘cause I mean, they’re a little vulgar. If someone wants them though, I’ll put out the gallery. You get weird requests, but even better are the variety of people who order them. Some are like “I want this, I want it vulgar and disgusting,” and then you have others who can’t say the words. A stand out one was the Junk Food cake. The bride told me “I don’t care how much it costs, I want it.”
We heard you don’t actually eat your own desserts, is this true?
I eat, but small little bits. I like the childhood favorites. I grew up eating ice cream from four-liter buckets. Or those McCain Deep n’ Delicious cakes, those are my favorite guilty pleasures. I don’t necessarily make something if I have a craving. As long as I know it tastes good I’d rather have other people eat it, that’s the sense of accomplishment for me. I’d feel selfish eating it myself. So that’s why I’ll buy a four-liter bucket of ice cream instead (laughs).
What do you love about your job?
Creative direction. Having that feeling that whatever you’re doing, there is an audience for it. I mean, as small as it is, it’s great to see that finally I’m doing something that I love and people also reciprocate. It’s great to find something you love to do, and have it been sustainable. It’s really a blessing I’ve had a great family who have supported me when times where maybe a little iffy, and there’s still lots of work ahead for me, so I’m feeling a lot more comfortable and confident that new projects will come, and I’ll just take it from there.
Together since 2009, The Food Gays are two Vancouver men who love food. Join them every two weeks right here on GayVancouver.Net as they bring you something tasty.