Postscript: Chris Holmes aka 'Mr Cake'

How life-work balance is a piece of cake for dad

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There are few moments in life as sweet as quitting a job you’ve come to loathe. But as resignation letters go, Chris Holmes’ farewell note was sweeter than most. In April 2013, Mr Holmes, an immigration officer working for the Border Force at Stansted Airport, handed in his notice in a memorable fashion - by presenting his bosses with a resignation cake.

“Having recently become a father I now realise how precious life is and how important it is to spend my time doing something that makes me, and other people, happy,” the then 31-year-old Mr Holmes explained in carefully piped black script on a sheet of white icing.

He added that he intended to dedicate his time and effort to his family and to Mr Cake, the cake-making business he had recently set up. Armed with a mixing bowl and a set of scales, the pastry maestro, from Sawston, Cambridgeshire, embraced his new alias and threw himself into the venture. And it seems Mr Holmes, aka Mr Cake, has alighted upon a way to have his cake and eat it – he’s spending more time than ever with his son Ben, now two, and is enjoying a steady flow of orders from eager clients.

“Things are immeasurably better than before,” Mr Holmes says. “I’m a full-time dad from Monday to Wednesday, then, during the second half of the week, I do my work and my wife Emma is in charge of childcare duties.

Chris Holmes, aka Mr. Cake

“I’m possibly regarded as the kind of cake maker that would take on the unconventional. I’ve got a bit of a reputation for doing cartoon animals. People have spotted those on my website and are immediately drawn to them,” continues the baker, who specialises in wedding cakes.

“Some of the cakes I’ve got planned are very far out,” the 33-year-old adds.  He’s determined to keep the details of these projects under wraps but says one of his greatest accomplishments was catering for a pair of self-declared “chocaholics” who wanted something spectacular for their wedding day.

“They said: ‘We are chocaholics so interpret that as you want and come up with a design for us.’ I thought: ‘What would be the most extreme chocolatey scenario?’”

The answer was a chocolate “volcano” constructed out of Flake bars and featuring a basin of molten milk chocolate “lava” which bubbled away thanks to an air pump Mr Holmes had fitted underneath. Despite the creativity and satisfaction his new occupation affords him, there are some downsides, Mr Holmes says. “There are huge amounts of washing up during busy periods which makes me grumble. I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor as well as doing the more glamorous stuff.”

However, he insists, the positives far outweigh the negatives. “I might roll my eyes for a second but I’m not commuting 45 minutes to the airport or sitting in front of a row of furious passengers who’ve been waiting for two hours,” the cake maker says. “I’m doing what I want to be doing now.”

While clients have been quick to praise Mr Holmes’ prowess with a piping bag, the businessman says he has yet to win over his young son.

“Ben is not my most flattering critic,” Mr Holmes admits.

“He’s still getting to grips with language and unfortunately his pronunciation of cake comes out as ‘cack’. Invariably he will walk in as I’m putting finishing touches on a cake, say ‘cack’ and walk out again.”

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