When COVID-19 hit in March of this year and the entire hospitality industry shuttered its doors, Bangkok-born, Melbourne-based chef Patchanida Chimkire was out of work. As daunting as her predicament was, Patti threw herself into an idea she had been percolating for a while: her own cake business.
Over the last few months, Patti has invested all her time, energy and cooking equipment into Mali Bakes. She makes the kind of candy-coloured cakes and iced piped dreams that only exist in your wildest dreams as a kid, inspired by both her childhood in Bangkok, and the creativity that surrounds her now in Melbourne. With flavours like brown butter cake, Thai tea soak, pink peppercorn pear with caramelised white chocolate buttercream and coconut cake, strawberry compote filled with toasted coconut buttercream, finish with lemon buttercream, rest assured they taste just as good as they look!
Read on for our interview with Patti about this new venture: a gorgeous culinary delight!
Hey Patti! Tell us a little bit about your background. When and why did you move to Australia, and what has been your creative/career journey so far?
I was born and raised in Bangkok. Bangkok is the most fun and vibrant place to grow up, and our culture revolves around eating. During the summer we would stay at my grandparents’ farm just out of the city. My grandfather was the cook in my family. He was amazing with food and as a kid I loved being in the kitchen with him.
I got my first job working for a catering company in Bangkok, where I did a bit of everything from admin, sales to food photography and decoration. This place inspired me to study culinary arts, so I packed my things and moved to Melbourne in 2015. I studied at William Angliss Institute and have been working as a chef in Melbourne since.
I have worked mainly in café and bakery settings as I love the casual environment and the sense of community. I’ve been so lucky to be surrounded by many artists since I’ve been here in Melbourne. All the creativity around me has influenced me to find my own expression through food.
How and when did Mali Bakes begin? What made you want to start baking these beautiful cakes?
Mali Bakes started from a conversation I had with a good friend of mine who was finding it hard to find the perfect cake for her daughter. So, during isolation, I put my energy into experimenting with recipes and decorations. I wanted to create a cake that is fun to look at, delicious inside and out.
We LOVE how strong the colourful, creative vision is for your cakes and your photography! Do you have any creative references or inspirations?
Illustrations from retro cookbooks and adverts really influence my colour palette, design and photography. I am going for a stripped back classic retro cake style, with vibrant colours. When I first started, I took inspiration from lots of different artist for colour reference which has lead me to find my own approach. I love Yayoi Kusama and Hilma af Klint. I like to imagine my cakes sitting in a scene from a Wes Anderson film.
When ordering the cake, customers have the option to choose their own colour combination from a list I put together. It’s been so much fun to work within those chosen combinations. I have also been fortunate to work with friend and amazing graphic designer Ryan Scott (A Little Colour) who designed the Mali Bakes branding.
How has 2020 changed your approach to your work?
Despite many difficulties, 2020 has been a blessing. Having to adapt to the situation has allowed me to find something I love doing along the way. Building a creative food practice has been a grounding force for me amongst all the uncertainty of this year. It’s been so nice to see all the happy smiles Mali Bakes has brought to my friends and customers so far.
Check out Mali Bakes for more of Patti’s incredible cakes!
Patti decorating one of her beautiful cakes from Mali Bakes! Photo – Abigail Javier and Ryan Scott.
The colours of each cake are completely customisable. Photo – Mali Bakes.
One of Patti’s creations in lemon, pink and peach colourway. Photo – Mali Bakes.
Patti carefully decorating one of her Mali Bakes cakes. Photo – Abigail Javier and Ryan Scott.
Could there be a more perfect celebratory cake? Photo – Mali Bakes.
Detail of a Mali Bakes birthday cake. Photo – Mali Bakes.
Mali Bakes cakes in the sunshine! Photo – Abigail Javier and Ryan Scott.
Patchanida Chimkire, founder of Mali Bakes. Photo – Abigail Javier and Ryan Scott.