FILMED in Charly's Bakery's fabulously decorative pink and white premises in Cape Town, the first episode of season one of documentary-cum-reality cakery series Charly's Cake Angels premiered in the UK on The Good Food Channel on Wednesday night.
The 13-part series, which stars bakery owner Jacqui Beiss, her daughters Alex and Daniella, and two of their colleagues, Roche and Francis, was filmed over 10 months last year by Justin Bonello and Peter Gird's company, Cooked in Africa. It was first shown on SABC3 in September, then in Italy, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Each episode documents the behind-the-scenes trials, tribulations and triumphs of the five women (and their team of more than 40) as they meet various confectionery challenges.
They create a five-tier cake to celebrate the opening of Cape Town's Design Indaba and put together a colourful and edible masterpiece for children with partial vision, which includes biscuits with Braille icing. In the Valentine's Day episode, they bake a cake for the Red Cross Children's Hospital, which has an anatomically correct heart as the cherry on top.
"Filming the series was great fun," says Daniella. "We've had amazing response. It's due to be broadcast in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Dubai shortly too, which will mean the show will eventually reach audiences on four continents. Series one will also be shown on the Food Network Channel and so can be watched in South Africa again on DStv later this year and we're busy filming series two."
The spin-off, she says, has been exciting. An Italian couple who saw the show travelled to Cape Town to commemorate their 25th wedding anniversary - just so they could have one of Charly's famous chocolate cakes.
"After the show was broadcast on SABC, we had an influx of local tourists. It was a great boost. And we've had several New Zealanders in the shop who've come by as a result of seeing the show in their country."
The Charly of Charly's Bakery was Jacqui's husband and Alex and Daniella's father, Charly, who died in May after a long illness. The first rendition of Charly's was a coffee shop in Thibault Square. It later moved to the V&A Waterfront before reinventing itself as the "crazy cake bakery" a stone's throw from Parliament in Roeland Street, where it first appeared in its now famous guise of pink and white candy-stripes with dancing cupcakes.
The intention was to operate a wholesale business but, after pleas from people who worked in the area (who were tormented by the delicious smells), Charly and Jacqui opened their doors to the public. They haven't looked back.
Three years ago, Charly's Bakery relocated again.
These days, you'll find it in District Six near The Fugard Theatre and the District Six Museum in the old Beinkinstadt Bookshop building, which was built in 1903. Or you can catch the Charly's Cake Angels on a TV near you soon.