From fashion to flowers, photography and more, Natasja Sadi’s expert eye for colour, light and composition is matched only by her enviable skills as a baker and master sugar flower artist. An accomplished wedding dress designer turned cake baker and decorator based in Amsterdam, Natasja’s excuisite work has captured the hearts of thousands through her daily snapshots and musings via Instagram at @cakeatelieramsterdam.
Tell us about your background, Natasja, we understand you used to work in fashion?
I was born in Surinam (South America) and moved to the Netherlands at a very young age. When I was a little girl, small pieces of fabric were my favourite thing to play with. Fashion had always been my passion, but after designing bridal dresses for over twenty years, I made the change and followed my sweet passion, creating cakes and sugar flowers.
What sparked your passion for baking and cake decoration?
Baking cakes for my children’s birthdays was the start of where I am today. Entertaining and making things pretty have always been my love. Baking cakes and preparing dessert for my friends always felt like the ultimate gift for them. When I decided to go professional, they had no trouble helping me being judges when it came to flavour testing. All my cakes have been tried and tested. I never expected to find a new passion again. Fashion will always have my love but who can resist cake and flowers?!
Where do you begin to create your exquisite sugar flowers? They’re so lifelike, it’s difficult to imagine that they’re not real, let alone edible!
If there is a particular assignment, I always start with the client. I love making dreams come true. It is such an honour to be part of, for instance, a wedding day for a couple. Exchanging ideas is one of the most wonderful stages in the process. So far I have been given a lot of freedom. It helps, I think, for any artist to receive that level of trust from your customers. Flowers most of the time are our starting point. The flowers used by florists to create magic at the venue are the beginning of my process. It is wonderful that I get the chance to recreate the real flowers used in sugar. The botanical aspect is always important to me. I’ll sometimes dissect a flower to get a detailed reference to go on. Every stamen, petal, leaf or calyx is created by hand. Receiving attention one by one, one petal at a time. Luckily these wired sugar flowers are kept as keepsakes long after the wedding. Away from moisture and direct sunlight, they can be kept forever. Wired on a longer stem in a vase or under a glass dome. They become objects to enjoy forever, a wonderful reminder of a special day. Edible art for sure!
What do you love the most about what you do?
It is true what they say, “when you create, you feel most alive.” I feel so grateful I get to do this for a living. It never feels like work. Real flowers keeping me company for reference and sugar paste to sculpt, shape any leaf or petal I choose; and so many flowers I’d still like to explore. I don’t think it is possible to ever get bored with flowers. Every stage they have from bud, full bloom and decay, they always keep their beauty. Capturing them in sugar in their different stages is what I love most, and if they are then presented on a cake, or in a beautiful vase to be enjoyed at a wonderful celebratory moment… This truly gives me incredible joy.
We adore your fabulous floral designs,too. Tell us more about them.
Answering this question to one of the best in the industry makes me want to pause for a second and say thank you!
Our old Dutch Master paintings are a constant inspiration, and free for me to visit anytime at our stunning museums here in Holland. I’m a bit of an old-fashioned girl and classic floral arranging is my preference. Lots of roses, dancing foliage smaller blooms and buds; I always try and let different blooms be friends in any arrangement. You can never go wrong with nature. Picking the right flowers, it is always a “love at first sight affair’ for me. When choosing the blooms you love it will always work. I adore large arrangements. Most of the time I will have them in my large Delft Blue vases. I started collecting Delftware many years ago; big and small vessels. My large arrangements always accompanied with smaller vases and only a few blooms. These small arrangements are scattered throughout our home. My Saturday flower market visits are the highlight of my week. We are spoilt in Holland. With prices so low, it’s an affordable weekly affair.
Do you have a favourite flower?
It would be like asking me to choose a favourite child. I always try and enjoy the seasons. As much as I love peonies, I will only buy the real ones when they are in season. Living in Holland that makes me one of the luckiest girls in the world. So many flowers we get to choose from. It is a reason for me not to move to another country! Already I’m looking forward to our tulip season. “Keukenhof” only a short ride away from Amsterdam. I can’t wait for the bulbs to pop! Visiting friends and their gardens, lovely garden roses another thing I can swoon over for days! I’m not a flower snob and I never will be. Chrysantemum, dahlias, carnations… I just adore them all. So many new varieties. We have no reasons left to reject any anymore. New special varieties cultivated each new season. Someone once said, “flowers are like a religion in Holland.” I think this is true. No Dutch home is without fresh flowers. We always, always have (fresh) flowers!
What are you working on at the moment, what’s in store for the future?
Working together with some real pros in this business is something I’m very grateful for. I still can’t believe sometimes some of the people that are taking me with them on their journey. Gratitude ten times over! Prints from my work are much requested, so that is also something that will be up soon. I always keep an open mind to the future. Sometimes the universe gives us more than we ever could have hoped for.