SA elephant baker wins 'Cake Oscar'

2017-11-08 13:30 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Elephant cake by Dot Klerck. (Photo: Supplied)

Cape Town - South African master baker Dot Klerck is flying the flag high for South African wildlife conservation after winning the Best Showpiece award at the international 2017 Cake Master Awards for her life-size elephant and calf cake.

The Awards, also known as the 'Cake Oscars', took place in Birmingham in the UK on 4 November this year, where Klerck's ultra-realistic elephant mother and calf, complete with tusks outshone the likes of Alice in Wonderland, a 3-meter-high Statue of Liberty cake as well as a replica of a real-life wedding gown.

According to Klerck, the aim of her Elephant and Calf project was to raise awareness of the ongoing brutal killing of elephants, and to give people the opportunity to get a feeling of how majestic the animals are. "Not too many people can gaze on an elephant in their lives," she says. "The life-size sculpture was an opportunity for them to see their beauty up close."

SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: 'Elephant poaching is on the rise'

Klerck collaborated with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and The Elephant Project SA in constructing her masterpiece.

According to Elda Thomas, founder of The Elephant Project SA, Klerck’s achievement is creating a massive global hype for conservation. "It's not merely a cake, it creates a connection in international media to the big conservation issues at hand “ Thomas says.

For the Life-size Elephant Cake, Klerck used 1200 eggs, 120kg chocolate, and 160kg of edible fondant. It took 14 days to construct and weighed a whopping 1.2 tonnes when it was unveiled for the first time at the Good Food & Wine Show in Cape Town 2 June 2017.

Building an elephant is similar to running an ultra-marathon, Klerck says. It takes a lot of stamina and, as all mammoth tasks go, "you have to take it one bite at a time".

SEE: Captive elephant industry fails to ride wave of change

She says the award is a motivation to continue using her craft as a way to raise awareness and has already teamed up with conservation activist group BloodLions in a project that will continue to shed light on the canned lion hunting industry.

Her 2018 project will include a life-size cake depicting  a pride of lions, including a lioness, lion and cubs.

South Africans are often "blind to what's happening in our own country,” Klerck says. “And many international visitors are also ignorant about the impact of canned lion hunting on conservation of lionsand the environment. Until we make the world aware, it will go on."

"In the end, it just tarnishes South Africa’s image," she says.  

“What a unique way to spread awareness about lions as well as the brutality they are subjected to through South Africa’s predator breeding and canned hunting industries. This event will allow the message to reach an audience we may otherwise have never reached. It’s a great idea and we are thrilled to be the focus of Dots next initiative.“ says Ian Michler of Bloodlions.

In 2016, Klerck was also nominated in Cake Master Awards' Best Showpiece category for her life size rhino cake. 

(Source: Conservation Action Trust)

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