As a shy, insecure 16-year-old, Raveena Oberoi turned to baking as a way to cope with life as a teen growing up in Abbotsford.
The culinary arts have apparently helped Oberoi find confidence over the past decade, because today she operates a cake shop in Surrey, has shown her baking skills on national TV and will demo her talents at this week’s Vancouver Fall Home Show.
Oberoi’s Just Cakes team was recently featured on Food Network Canada’s The Big Bake show, in a Halloween-themed “Trick or Treat” episode.
“We filmed it in Toronto over the summer, and it premiered on Monday (Oct. 14),” Oberoi explained.
“We made a five-foot-tall haunted mansion for a cake, with liquid nitrogen and music – kind of a creepy-cake mansion,” she added. “We beat two other teams. It was fun.”
As the show credits rolled, Oberoi had this to say: “I hope the team and I really showcased today that we have the creative vision, we have the skill, we have the technique, all bundled into one cute little package.”
As a business enterprise, Just Cakes was born in 2010 while Oberoi was still in high school. She set out to create cakes for friends and family, and even made some for school projects.
“For me it was kind of therapy, and I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I was making cakes all the time, after school and in my spare time, and I watched TV shows about it, taught myself watching Youtube videos.”
She began taking photos of her cakes and posting them online, and gained traction with social media.
After receiving her a degree at UBC, Oberoi travelled to Paris to learn the art of pastry from French chefs, and upon her return set out to open Just Cakes Bakeshop, located in Newton near the corner of Scott Road and 75A Avenue.
“I was so inspired by my time (in France), so I wanted to open a bakeshop within a year of coming home, and it was only 11 months after,” Oberoi said.
This Friday afternoon (Oct. 25), Oberoi will share her baking advice at the Vancouver Fall Home Show, in a session called “How to Create a Delicious Apple Caramel Mousse” on the Lilydale Cooking Stage, starting at 4 p.m. The event takes place at Vancouver Convention Centre West from Thursday to Sunday (Oct. 24-27), and details are posted to vancouverfallhomeshow.com.
“It’ll be my first time at the Home Show,” Oberoi said, “but I’ve done a few demonstrations at events before, including Surrey Fusion Festival.”
During her first year at UBC, Oberoi lived in a dorm without a kitchen, so she couldn’t bake.
“That drove me nuts,” she recalled with a laugh. “I later moved to an apartment and could make cakes there, and I was 19 at the time. That gave me a sense of running my own business, and it started from there. I was making cakes for events around campus, and by the time I graduated in 2015, I had to make a decision of what career I wanted. Making cakes is something I’d done for a long time.”
In 2016, Oberoi was named among Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 award winners at a Surrey Board of Trade event, and a year later won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the organization’s Business Excellence Awards.
Her cake shop was opened in Surrey to capitalize on the South Asian wedding market, Oberoi said.
“A lot of that is in Surrey,” she said. “I still live in Abbotsford, but I’m getting married next year and will move to Vancouver, where my fiancé lives, but I’ll be here in Surrey a lot of the time.”