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Zimbabwean Trades Bitter Pills for Sweet Dishes

Interview with Cake Baker Tendai Mashonga

“Whoever you are, age, race or where you find yourself. Keep dreaming, do something about it and keep moving.”

Pharmacists are normally associated with stern injections, bandages and an assortment of bitter tablets or drugs, which are at times sugar-coated to make them a bit friendly to the mouth.

This is no longer the case for Zimbabwean assistant pharmacist, Tendai Mashonga, who has moved from the dispensary to handling all kinds of sweet ingredients. She is now curving a niche for herself in the baking industry where, instead of distributing bitter pills and other life-saving items, she is producing mouth-watering cakes and related sweet dishes.

This passion for baking has made her a rising star in the confectionary business.

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Mashonga, 33, is a professional dispensing/pharmacy assistant, who relocated to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2012. Trained at the University of Zimbabwe as a dispensing assistant, passion for baking resulted in her becoming a proud owner of a cake bakery, Glam Tavoletta, in 2014.

“That has always been an inspiration in my previous career as a dispensing/pharmacy assistant back in Zimbabwe.

strawberry and cream cake baked by Tendai Mashonga
strawberry and cream cake baked by Tendai Mashonga

The relocation to South Africa gave her more time to explore the artist in her. “After moving to South Africa I had more time and the artist in me was revived.”

Mashonga has been invited to various Expos like the East Rand Wedding Expo 2015 that was held at the prestigious hotel, The Emperors Palace, in Johannesburg. This is an annual event with attendance of over 140 of South Africa’s leading wedding specialists and bridal fashion gurus.

She had the opportunity to meet with soon to be tutor, renowned South African baker, Red Velvetier, and Paul, who has worked as a student with Cake Boss, a famous American television series.

“Currently I am catering mainly for individuals and celebration events for doctors, end of year parties, baby showers and church events and the likes.

“I will also be working with Girl with a Cake, a non-governmental organisation, which belongs to a South African lady to assist the under privileged."

Soccer ball cake baked by Tendai Mashonga
Soccer ball cake baked by Tendai Mashonga

Her son's allergies have largedly influenced the choice of cake ingredients as she has ventured into the gluten, dairy, nut and egg free cake range. She wants to boost her cake products.

“I'm pushing the boundaries, keen to learn more and grow my business into a legacy today those smiles come from the cakes I bake. I'm working to grow by brand known as Glam Tavoletta. Italian for glamorous, fun cakes. They include gluten free, dairy free and all sorts of health benefit ones. My son inspired the diversity.”

On her spare time, Mashonga synchronizes some of her artistic aspirations alongside with painting,

“This could be the attention that goes into it or just how tasty it is. Cake always seems to make someone's day. I also dabble in other aspects of art. I paint, be it on canvas, wood or clothing.”

She encourages the youth to always keep up the zeal and focus. “Whoever you are, age, race or where you find yourself. Keep dreaming, do something about it and keep moving.”

Layered cake baked by Tendai Mashonga
Layered cake baked by Tendai Mashonga

Mashonga worked for a long time at St. Anne's Hospital, a leading health institution in Zimbabwe where she was attached to the chemotherapy dispensary and theatre, then moved to Baines Theatre Pharmacy, before leaving for Avenues Clinic in Harare.

Assistant Pharmacist Turns Into Professional Cake Dough Mixer
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