My business journey

I’ve had many of my students asked about how I started my business from scratch. To answer that, I’ve written the longer version of my story below. I never had an investor and took out a loan, but started with a few SA Rands in my pocket. Here is how it all started…

Together with fellow managers, Louis and Jack.

Together with fellow managers, Louis and Jack.

I grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. When I finished my studies in 2000, it took some determination to work fulltime in the food industry. What I wanted to do for a living needed a lot more experience which I knew will only come with age. What I was really interested in though, was the studies of Food science, Nutrition and Microbiology. Even more so, why people had different food choices and ideas around eating. I loved speaking to my fellow colleagues and later on my students about their remembrances of food while growing up.

I worked a few years for companies such as Unifoods and Hudson and Knight as Brand Development Consultant. We looked after our Brand by visiting stores, identifying training needs and came up with solutions. Also as Foodservice Manager at a Conference centre and another year or so in a Hospital. When the retail group, Woolworths appointed me in 2005, I became a Store Admin Manager, looking after the training aspect of the business as well. This got me up and out of bed in the morning. I planned training sessions for my staff about Health and Safety in the workplace. How to treat food in their cooked and raw state and lots more. I knew then what I enjoyed most about the Food Industry.... Training!

My kitchen studio 2012 - 2014

My kitchen studio 2012 - 2014


In 2010 my Husband and myself decided to move to Cape Town. I didn’t apply at any companies at that stage and felt it would be an ideal time to start my own Company. At first with selling wedding cakes. La Petite Patisserie was founded that same year. I only had R400 on me to start something, so advertised on free websites, used Facebook as marketplace and bought at secondhand shops most of my equipment.

While working in the wedding cake industry I enjoyed the Pastry section of industry more. It’s creative, innovative and I get to mingle with people which I enjoyed so much. In 2012, I was chosen by The Discovery Channel, TLC to participate as a contestant on the “Who is the Cake Boss” show. It was held in Cape Town, and I was 28 weeks pregnant might I add :). I was approached to do training and presented a few demos on DSTV as well.


It was during this time, that I discovered that I need to create a space for others to come and learn the art of Cake Decorating and Baking. At first we made space in our small home. When our baby started growing up, and the day when a supplier truck delivering goods could not fit in our drive way, was when I saw the need to rent a kitchen.

For two years we were based in Table View, Cape Town inside a small test kitchen. The Academy grew to full capacity and again I was looking for a space to teach. We moved and opened up in Montague Gardens, Cape Town.

I loved my kitchen space and classroom. During the last five years it was a space where we got to meet people from all over the world. Per month, we had 50% International Student enrollments and 2 visitors or so from other provinces. They brought different views and cultural history to our class, I learned a lot!

For two years we were based in Table View, Cape Town inside a small test kitchen. The Academy grew to full capacity and again I was looking for a space to teach. We moved and opened up in Montague Gardens, Cape Town.

Lennie and myself with my little boy Josh.

Lennie and myself with my little boy Josh.

I loved my kitchen space and classroom. During the last five years it was a space where we got to meet people from all over the world. Per month, we had 50% International Student enrollments and 2 visitors or so from other provinces. They brought different views and cultural history to our class, I learned a lot!

I wrote courses in Bread Baking, French Pastries, Meringues, Cake Decorating and Cake baking which was presented to around 1050 students in just under 8 years. Most of them now own their own home bakeries, work in the industry or contribute to the baking field. Courses were accredited by FoodBev SETA and we had training memberships with SACA, South African Chefs Association.

Together with my head baker, Lennie, lecturers Charleen, Michelle, Liezl, Kayla and Dessy we all built up a beautiful business and I am so grateful for everyone’s contribution.

La Petite Patisserie classroom 2014 - 2018

La Petite Patisserie classroom 2014 - 2018

Students at work

Students at work

Our venue in Cape Town

Our venue in Cape Town

2018 Students

2018 Students

Creativity wise, I enjoy creating beautiful wedding cakes and some even got published in The Wedding Inspirations Magazine, Fair Lady Bride and online Bridal blogs. Since 2013 there were 19 different media publications for wedding cakes, breakfast ideas, desserts and canapés done. It gave me a space to really express myself, also create awareness for our Food Academy and was also a lovely way to spend time with other Cape Town wedding suppliers and creatives.

Photo credit: Debbie Lourens.

Photo credit: Debbie Lourens.

We recently moved to The Netherlands, whereby this website will act as a “base” for all our recipes, ideas and training. In 2019, we plan to have online classes available in which I can assist with learning.

In the meantime, please contact me for private training sessions at your premises, order one of my books or keep subscribed to the the blog for some cooking and baking ideas.

As a food consultant I also teach cooking and baking techniques anywhere in Europe. My services includes food photography and styling, recipe calculations, kitchen and menu planning. I find myself once again at the beginning of a new journey from 2019 onwards!

I cannot stress how important it is for me to educate the public in the fundamentals of baking, healthy eating habits and safety in the workplace. Now everyone would be able to read a recipe, understand how baking works and be able to create their own recipes.

LEARN | CREATE | ENJOY!

Nicolette van Niekerk

Lastly remember that people have dreams, but God has a vision for you. Without vision, we would perish, not being able to ever understand what is expected of us here on earth. (Prov. 29:18) Find your purpose in life, live your dream and pray that God will also open the heavens to you with blessings on your life.