Interview #52: Vasilije Vasiljevic of Nasa Mala Zavrzlama

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1. Tell us a little about yourself, family, where do you live and what did you do for a living before making cakes if anything?

I’m living in Belgrade, Serbia, where I came 20 years ago as a high school graduate. My plan was to spend some time in Belgrade where I will stay for an internship, but with few repositioning’s I’ve decided to stay here in the pastry industry.
Five years ago, I decided to open cake studio with my friend and we named it “Nasa Mala Zavrzlama”. Zavrzlama is Serbian idiom, and if I would try to translate it in English, it will be “Our Little Tangled Store”

2. How or why did you get started in cake decorating… was it by accident or did you always have a passion for it?

As far as I can remember there was a lot of tasty food in my home because my mother is excellent cook. Thanks to her I have a good food addiction and sweet tooth. One day, she brought a new book in our home, and that was love on a first site! That book was about French pastries! Page by page, day by day, reading recipes and following them while I was preparing simple sweets, I realize that I’m good at it. Anyhow the most interesting part for me was about decoration, so I was in charge for all cake decorations prepared by my mother. At that time, when I was 10, while decorating my mother’s cakes, I couldn’t imagine that this will be my life profession.

3. Is there one tool you cannot live without and one you don’t have yet but really want?

Definitely I can’t imagine my day without my painting brushes. I use them on almost every cake that I make, and I’m trying to get my personal stamp on every peace that comes out from our studio. There is nothing that I particularly want because almost all tools that I’m using are custom made (silicone molds, laces, veiners, etc.) I’m trying to be unique, so most of the time, I’m not using anything from mass production….

4. Is there one technique or sugar skill that you have not tried yet but really would like to learn?

In the 90’s it was a trend in my country to decorate cakes with pulled sugar, but I haven’t had a chance to practice it, so, I would really like to learn that skill and to improve it.

5. What is your favorite cake flavor you like to make?

Chocolate! Most of our flavors are based on Chocolate…because I love chocolate so much, hahaha I love it in every combination with every possible mix….caramel, marzipan, fruits, nuts, almonds…

6.  I love your designs they are always so very creative and each one very uniquely different from the next. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Hmmm…I’m getting my inspiration in every detail that is surrounding me. I love art, painting, architecture, so my inspiration is exactly in this segments… also, in textile industry, fashion, my brain is in fifth gear all the time, and sometimes, even in smallest details I recognize inspiration for new, big project. Often, I’m inspired after meeting with my costumers. For example, when I meet future brides and grooms I asked them about their life, how they met, what they love, what they want, about their memories, important moments, and that information they give me is what I use to make them a unique novelty wedding cake. Creating that way their cake usually reminds me of a child’s picture book, with so many details … those cakes, usually cause excitements within guests.

7. For anyone just starting out what would be one piece of advice you would give them?

You have to be confident in yourself and your work! I really think that this is most important!
And…you have to be YOU, not a copy; you have to be unique and different from your colleagues.

8. What’s the best lesson you have learned while making cakes so far?

I learned that every experience, no matter if it’s good or bad is part of professional growth, make are character stronger and shape our future decisions

9. You tend to do a lot of painting in many of your designs do you have a background in the arts?

Yes, I’ve started with painting in my childhood, and I even won a school prizes a few times. Later, when I grew up, I started with private classes, and took part at local exhibitions. These days, unfortunately, since I’m too busy in cake industry, I do not have enough time for real painting on canvas, so I’m using every opportunity to paint on cakes. I hope that I will have more time for myself in the near future, and manage to finish all paintings that I started a long time ago, and never had enough time to finish them…

10. What part of making cakes do you like most and least?

I do enjoy in cake decorations, mostly in wedding cakes, since, after more than 20 years of making and baking different types of cakes and cookies, decoration is part of my job that I love mostly.

11. Tell us one thing about yourself that many of us might not know already.

I can’t claim that nobody doesn’t know that, some of my truly friends know…that I love to work with furniture, to paint and do restauration. I’m a huge fan of furniture made of natural wood, so I’m designing and making some pieces. For example all cake stands that you can find on my photos, are my design. I made a draft, and then I gave it to my woodworker who makes them in the shape that I want. Then, I paint them, give them a special touch, and modify them for my needs. Also, one more thing that I love so much and is not known already is my love for photography. Besides brushes I’m often using a camera. I’m addicted to taking photos, but I don’t like to be in front of the camera…so, it is hard to find myself in photos, haha

12. Some of us had one particular cake that was the cake that got us noticed in the industry do you remember what cake that was for you and if so which one was it?

My work was spotted when I made “Paris wedding cake” with Eifel tower dominate on cake, bride and groom riding a Vespa on Paris avenues. That cake was notified by Cake Masters Magazine editors, so they invited me to be a part in magazine and I made tutorial for Tuscan Illusion Cake.

13. Do you have a bucket list and if so what might one or two of those be and it does not have to be cake related?

Of course I have…right now I would like to visit Morocco, have more free time, and I would like to build a small cottage somewhere in the middle of the woods (no need to say that I already have a blueprints for that house)!

14. What would you say has been your biggest cake challenge to date and if you could have a do-over of that cake would you want too and what about it would you change?

From the first day of my carrier, I’ve faced many obstacles, and as you can see, I’ve manage to overpass them. Something that is moving me up are challenges. I love new creations, new techniques…I’m expecting that I will continuously have challenges in my life, and that I will manage to go beyond them…that is how I will make progress.

15. Do you sketch your cakes or just wing it?

I never sketch my cakes in advance. I always have a sketch of the cake in my mind, and that is what I use when I start making the cake. During the process, I usually modify my first idea, since I realize that something little bit different could be nicer, that maybe I could use some other technique, so, I really do not have a clue where will I stop with my ideas, and what will be the final result. You know, if you are working like that, you have to be trained to recognize a moment where you have to stop with ideas, and finish decorating the cake.

16. Do you have one significant cake that you can call your favorite so far in your career?

Actually, no! All cakes that are made in our studio have my personal touch, since I’ve made them…so I can’t separate neither one as my personal favorite. My memories for cakes are directly connected with my customers, their stories, so I can tell you the story about all of my cakes… usually, if you combine that story with anecdote…this is how I can easily remember my cakes.

17. And one crazy one just for fun…If you could have any animal in the world as a pet what animal would you choose and why?

Black Panther…it is enough just to have eye to eye contact, hehehe

Tags: interview nasa mala zavrzlama vasilije vasiljevic

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Jacqueline ...

great interwieuw awesome artist

José Pablo Vega ...

My friend you are an amazing artist. All the best for 2017 and so far

Sweet Dreams by Heba ...

Vasilije, you know that I’m such a HHUUUUGGGEE fan of your work and every cake you produce makes me fall in love all over again. It is so nice to finally see your face!!! You’re definitely a superstar in my eyes and thanks for a really fun and lovely interview. Hugs.

Elli Warren ...

Congratulations!!! absolutely stunning cakes, I love your work so much!! Huge fan here too!! :-) x

Nasa Mala Zavrzlama ...

Jacqueline, thank you so much! :-)

Nasa Mala Zavrzlama ...

Thank you Jose, all the best, too! :-)

Nasa Mala Zavrzlama ...

Thank you so much Heba, it means a lot of to me and I appreciate your huge support all the time! :-)

Nasa Mala Zavrzlama ...

Thank you so much Elli,
I’m glad you like my work, it means a lot of to me! :-)

Heavenlycreations ...

Dear Vasilije, this interview just proves once again how big your name and your artistic work are in the cake world. Everything you touch turns to gold. You are an amazing artist , artist extraordinaire! Your masterpieces speak their own stories and reflect your personality! Your style is so unique and fascinating! Every your new piece is my new favorite one! I am very proud that we both come from the same background and speak the same mother language! Thank you for existing!

Calli Creations ...

Thank you so much Vasilije for sharing you story with us . I’m a big fan of your incredible artistic creations!!! Your artwork and painting skills are superb!! I chucked at your unfinished paintings, I have three still waiting to complete for a long time now.
I look forwards to seeing more of your fabulous creations

Nasa Mala Zavrzlama ...

Heavenlycreations, thank you for this words and thanks for support, I’m glad you like my work! :-)

Nasa Mala Zavrzlama ...

Calli, thank you so much, it means a lot when one big artist like you follow my work! :-)

Michal Bulla ...

I always thought that you are a woman…it’s good to know more about you finally :).

Your cakes are amazing, Thanks for the Interview!

Mila - Pure Cakes by Mila ...

I love your work, it always puts a smile on my face. Nice to read more about you!

Jennassignaturebakes ...

Love your work!