Pershore Patty meets Pia Cato, founder and owner at The Vanilla Pod Bakery, Cheltenham to ask a few questions and for a general nose.
Tell me a little bit about how you came to own or work in your business.
I started my business back in 2009 after winning a university business planning competition. I had to submit a business plan and then pitch Dragon’s Den style to a panel of local influential business owners and leaders. It was super scary and the most amazing experience.
What achievements, awards or accolades are you proud of?
I am very proud of winning the business planning competition which kick started Vanilla Pod Bakery off. It was such an achievement to know that people believed in me and my ability to start a business. In 2017 we won best wedding cake maker in the The Wedding Awards which was amazing and then in 2019, 10 years after I started we won the wedding supplier of the year at the SoGlos Lifestyle Awards.
What makes your business unique?
I always find this a hard question to answer. We create beautiful and elegant cakes, but other wonderful cake businesses can say that. We make delicious tasting cakes, again lots of talented bakers do too. We like to go above and beyond, but again so do other businesses. So maybe what makes us different in the combination of all the above, our special and unique Vanilla Pod Bakery way of doing things.
Favourite restaurant to visit if you get a night off?
I do love 131 and pretty much all of the Lucky Onion restaurants. I would say they are my go to for a
delicious and tasty meal. But I do love finding new restaurants as well. I just love eating out!
Last thing you watched on TV?
Belgravia. I love a period drama and I have really got into this new ITV series.
Which person in your life do you most admire and why?
I admire the Queen. I think she is fantastic. She is so calm and collected, a constant figure to guide and reassure. It would be my dream to meet her.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
I gave a homemade chocolate brownie to my friend for her birthday.
What’s your favourite smell in the whole world?
I love Bergamot. All my favourite candles have this in. But I also love the smell of hyacinth’s, jasmine and camomile.
What’s your favourite kind of sandwich?
Anything with roast beef or salmon…though not in the same sandwich!
Who would you want to cook your last meal on earth, and why?
Oh gosh, I have know idea! There are too many amazing people to choose from!
What is the most annoying habit that other people have?
I am a bit weird but I really can’t stand the sound of crunching!
If you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
What’s your claim to fame?
I appeared as an extra in Busted’s Year 3000 video!
Which food & drink business (other than your own) do you wish you had created?
Fortnum and Mason. I love the luxury and the elegance. It’s my favourite shop.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Enjoy the journey. I can’t remember where I heard it from but when I start getting overwhelmed with life and business, I think back to this and ask myself how can I enjoy the journey.
If you could be anywhere else right now, where would it be?
Relaxing somewhere in the sunshine, with a cocktail in hand, delicious seafood and the sea stretching out in front of me.
What’s the best thing that happened to you last week?
I got to bake desserts at home! We are currently in lockdown in the midst of the coronavirus and I actually don’t bake that much at home. It is all done at work in our studio. So it was nice to slow down and discover the joy of baking in my home kitchen again.
Name a product or service you love so much that you’d happily be that company’s spokesperson.
I love my Kenwood chef mixer, fondly called Ken. I have had him for 7 years and he is a workhorse. He was given to me as gift by one of my most amazing clients ever. I am still so touched to this day that someone could do that. A very special lady. I think everyone should have a Kenwood mixer!
As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
I wanted to be a fashion designer! I used to spend my time sketching designs, particular wedding dresses!
What is the perfect combination of pizza toppings?
I love to keep it plain and simple. Good old tomato’s, mozzarella, Parma ham and rocket.
What was the worst job you ever held and why?
I did a bit of event stewarding while at uni. Normally it was quite entertaining but there was this one time I had to direct traffic in the back car park of Cheltenham Racecourse. I was by myself, it was a horrid cold and wet evening. Needless to say that was not enjoyable.
I don’t have one.
What was the last thing you ate?
Cornflakes and skimmed milk
Favourite cut of steak?
All steak! I just love beef!
What website do you visit most often?
Amazon! I am always ordering stuff from it! Whether it is for work or home.
What is the most impressive thing you know how to do?
Create show stopping cakes
What do you hope never changes?
My love and passion for running The Vanilla Pod Bakery.
The Foodie Card offer – Free postal tasting box for The Foodie Card cardholders who book their special occasion cake with the Vanilla Pod Bakery. *Please note a non refundable deposit of £250 must be paid before box can be delivered.