Chris is a very restless, lively person. He sleeps three hours a day and the other twenty-one hours he is doing a million things. “I learned that if you don’t like something it’s better to change it. That is my philosophy.” He is seismologist, enologist, he’s been a professional cyclist and he had a lingerie shop in Madrid. Currently he has a language school, he is the community manager for Banco Santander and he has created Home Cake, which is a social project where they make organic, artisanal cakes. We talked to him about his last project and also about calle Conde Duque, which is a street where a small artisan community with big projects has settled.
You’ve studied seismology and enology. You’ve been a professional cyclist and you are a language teacher. Why did you start making cakes?
It all started thanks to Patricia from Toma Café. I am the youngest of five siblings. My mother always made cakes and she taught me how to make them since none of my brothers were interested in it. I love to cook and I know many cultures and types of foods since I’ve lived in many countries. When I got here I always made the cakes for my friends’ birthdays, like for Patri and Santi. When they opened Toma, they asked me to make cakes for their place. That’s how I started: making cakes in the morning when I didn’t have to teach classes.
Why did you decide to start a project with APAI foundation?
I loved The Engine Shed project in Edinburgh and I always wanted to develop a similar project here. About a year and a half ago, I met the people from the APAI foundation and I started teaching children twice a week how to make cakes.
How does the project with the foundation work?
The APAI foundation promotes the social and labor integration of children with intellectual disabilities. The first phase of the project was teaching them the process of artisanal cake making at the APAI headquarters in San Sebastián de los Reyes. The second phase, in which we are now, is to bring the kids to Madrid and set goals to motivate them. We just opened a workshop at the back of Quesería Conde Duque and I am looking for another one with an open storefront to make quality cakes and bread without gluten. My idea is to train them in San Sebastián de los Reyes. After they are trained, they will be able to come to Conde Duque and finally they will work at the shop directly selling to the customers. I think it can be a very motivating training program for them.
What’s your philosophy in cake making?
I have an in depth knowledge in nutrition from the years I was a professional cyclist. At that time I used to prepare cakes for other cyclists with less sugar, organic products and specific ingredients for them. I now apply this knowledge to make the cakes here at Home Cake as healthy as possible.
“If you work well and put your heart in what you make you’ll be successful.”
What is key in order to make a healthy cake?
Ingredients are key as well as to do a lot of research. I don’t use my mother’s recipes anymore since I’ve developed my own. We always use seasonal produce and top quality ingredients such as cheese and butter from Granja Cantagrullas and a high quality olive oil.
What kind of relationships do you have with your suppliers?
I work with organic products suppliers with whom I intend to establish long-term relationships with. For instance, I started selling cakes to Mama Campo, which is an organic store and restaurant, and they are now one of my suppliers. Nacho and David, the owners, are very nice people. I make cakes for their shop and their restaurant, and they give me produce in exchange. I look for these kinds of relationships. It’s great that they can say their cakes are made with their own ingredients.
You have your workshop at the back of Quesería Conde Duque and sell your cakes at Panic. What do these three artisanal projects of calle Conde Duque have in common?
There are many synergies between us. We all share the same philosophy. If you work well and put your heart in what you make you’ll be successful. Neither Ruben nor Javi nor myself have sought for success. We just passionately make things we love and we emit this passion to our clients.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your project?
The most rewarding part is definitely the people. I never say my cakes are good. That is subjective. You may like them or you may not. People are the most important thing to me. It’s very gratifying to get to the foundation and to see everyone excited, learning and improving. It’s beautiful doing something for them and seeing how much they appreciate it.
Where do you like to go out in Madrid?
I love this neighborhood. It is very special for me. I keep a single photograph of the first time I was in Madrid when I was a cyclist, and coincidentally it was taken here in calle Conde Duque. This street means a lot to me. I always go out around this area.
C/Conde Duque 15, 28015 Madrid
Their products can be found: