Here SO magazine discovers why so many traders in Tunbridge Wells got all fired up to be in with a chance of winning this fun competition which helped to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee…
Taste Wells of Royal Victoria Place shopping centre have beaten The Pantiles traders to scoop the inaugural Royal Tunbridge Wells Cake Off trophy for 2022.
Designed to support the town centre’s hospitality sector, while celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Royal Tunbridge Wells Cake Off is the concept of the RTW Together Business Improvement District.
It took place on Saturday June 4, from 11am-3pm, on The Pantiles, where members of the public had the chance to sample a variety of free ‘royal themed’ cakes – including three vegan varieties – and then vote for their favourite. Residents and visitors to the town turned up in their droves to savour a taste of the brilliant bake offs created by our talented traders.
After the votes had been counted Taste Wells were declared the cream of the crop – amazingly by just ONE VOTE, narrowly beating rivals The Zero Waste Company, located on The Pantiles, and their Pimm’s and orange entry.
The Cake Shed, also on The Pantiles, came in as a close third. Other Cake-Off contestants included Ruby’s of London, on Monson Road, The Plant Base and Il Vesuvio both on the Camden Road, and the newly opened Bubba & Me, on Mount Pleasant. The Tunbridge Wells Hotel, also located on The Pantiles were another of the entrants and also supported the event which was hosted by Alex West from local radio network KMFM.
The chosen cake was an ‘Elizabeth’ vanilla sponge which was layered with strawberry jam and rose water icing and decorated with edible rose petals and a white crown.
On winning the overall Cake-Off competition, Taste Wells founder, Sarah, who entered along with husband Derek and collaborating partner, Chef’s Pantry, said: “We’re really, really chuffed, I told the team and they were all really pleased, it’s been amazing.
“We’ve worked with Chef’s Pantry for 15 years now. It’s just been great to take part, alongside so many other businesses, it’s just brilliant – hopefully it’ll be something we can do on an annual basis, it’s good for the town, and for independent retailers. We’ll be displaying the trophy in our shop! As a top of town business, taking the title during an event on The Pantiles is the icing on the cake!”
And it was a double day of celebrations for Taste Wells, who also marked 18 years since they first opened on June 4 in 2004!
The inaugural Cake Off event also featured live music from vintage jazz band Miss Kiddy and the Cads, as well as music from KMFM. Other attractions included free face painting for children, with donations collected for local food bank charity, Nourish.
BID Director Sarah-Jane Adams, who was on hand to check who was whipping up the dessert of dreams, told SO magazine: “We’re so pleased at the response the Cake Off has had – we were overwhelmed with visitors and despite having such a large quantity, ran out of cake much quicker than anticipated!
“It was exciting to see so many people of all generations sampling cake from across the town centre and hearing about hospitality names they hadn’t been to before, and for families to enjoy the free face painting and live music – there was a lot of fun with our chefs on stilts! Will there be a Cake Off 2023? Watch this plate!”
Taste Wells were crowned on The Pantiles bandstand at 3pm, and received the official Cake Off glass trophy – which was specially commissioned by the BID who asked Glass by Claudia, based on Monson Road, to create the impressive piece.
In partnership with the Tunbridge Wells Hotel, the winning business also won an overnight stay for two in the venue’s honeymoon suite.
Owner of the Tunbridge Wells Hotel, Julian Leefe-Griffiths, said: “It’s great to have a Tunbridge Wells Cake Off. The months of May and June are always, I think, the most beautiful summer months!”
Fellow contestant Geff Stone, of the Plant Base, added: “It’s great to have been part of the Cake Off! We love these events that bring the town together – we were proud to have joined our fellow traders and enjoyed being part of such a friendly competition!”
RTW Together produced a ‘cakeumentary’ film in the run up to the competition, created by Camden Road resident Simon Cossons. The idea was to follow the participating businesses as they prepared for baking battle, and to also create a souvenir booklet showcasing not just those taking part, but other town centre coffee and cake stops, such as Fine Grind, Momentum, Crumbs and Treacle, Black Dog Café, Kumquat Café, Hotel Chocolat, The Pantiles Café, Hudsons Bistro and Emilio’s Coffee. A thousand copies were then given away at the Cake Off event in order to help promote each hospitality venue and create a sense of collaborative cohesion with the town’s many traders.
The promotional team also put on a taster event in Royal Victoria Place shopping centre on Friday June 3, 11-3pm, promoting the event and giving away free cherry and Maderia cake from Larratt & Co, Chapel Place.
The RTW Together Business Improvement District literally also flew the flag for the Platinum Jubilee weekend and the town’s local traders by supplying all the red, white and blue bunting that was put up along The Pantiles. All in all they ensured that The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations were a weekend to remember here in Tunbridge Wells…
All images © Royal Tunbridge Wells Together