• Eye Candy

    Food & Wine |
  • Clifford Luu, also known as Cliff, is literally the icing on the cake. We catch up with Australia’s up-and-coming cake decorator to learn how he went from project administrator to darling of the celebrity set in just a few short months.

    Few of us can say our 15 minutes of fame came courtesy of a bandaged star featured in a tabloid newspaper.

    But that’s what happened to Sydney’s self-taught baker and cake decorator, Clifford Luu. Cliff’s cake business was propelled to stardom thanks to PR impresario Roxy Jacenko appearing on the Daily Mail after having had surgery, holding one of his cakes. It was the start of a whirlwind ride. He only launched Cakes by Cliff in March this year but since then Cliff has garnered an impressive following among celebrities and regular clients.



    Much of the profile he has been able to achieve has been thanks to a savvy social media strategy he started working on as soon as he launched the business. He began by promoting his cakes on Instagram, which has a thriving community of cake makers, supported of course by the many people who love amazing cakes.

    Then, he started offering cakes to some of the top food bloggers on Instagram, to help build his profile. It was this strategy that introduced him to Roxy Jacenko: one of her staff members at her PR firm Sweaty Betty is also a respected food blogger and she introduced Cliff’s cakes to the team who organized a surprised birthday cake for Roxy.

    Cliff subsequently created an eponymous cake for her, The Roxy cake, and he’s made cakes for other celebrities, for instance Anna Heinrich from TV show The Bachelor. He’s also collaborated with a bakery in Sydney’s Newtown, MakMak that makes macarons for him in exchange for joint promotion on Instagram.

    Cliff says his idol is popular Instagram school-teacher-turned-cake-maker Katherine Sabbath, who has a 179,000-plus following on the social media platform.



    Although Cliff has no formal training as a cake decorator, he’s always made cakes for friends and family. His partner, Tim, who also loves cooking, but focuses on savoury dishes, also inspires him.

    It’s fair to say people who are lucky enough to be invited to a dinner party at Cliff and Tim’s are wowed by the creations that emerge from their kitchen.

    Cliff’s background in architecture sets his work apart. Cliff currently works full time as a project administrator, and they are supportive of his after-hours work as a cake decorator.

    He approaches each cake, which come in choc fudge, vanilla butter, red velvet and caramel mud, with an architectural mindset.

    When he receives a complex brief such as wedding cakes, he initially sketches his design and then seeks approval from the client. Then he uses architectural tools of the trade such as a laser cutter for custom cake toppers, set squares and plaster scrapers when he’s putting together his creations.

    Cliff currently makes about 20 cakes a month. Each cake takes between four and six hours to make and he says 30th birthday cakes are one of his biggest markets. Kids’ cakes for indulgent parents are also an important part of the business.



    Right now, he’s gearing up for his first wedding season and has been scouring the ‘net for designs and inspiration. He’s already totally booked out for October.

    Given how successful he’s been in such a short time, he does have plans to move into cake creating full time. His vision is to start out by partnering with a fellow baker, who would take over responsibility for baking, allowing Cliff to focus more on design and decoration.

    While his human fans are critical to his success, Cliff says his biggest supporter is his French bulldog Howard, who doubles as the business’s mascot. Given the incredible cakes that emerge from Cliff’s oven, Howard is one of the luckiest dogs in the country.

     

    View more of Cliff’s cake designs.