Could you imagine anything more decadent than the elegant teatime favourite that is the macaron? Yes, not macaroon as we started off saying a few years ago. The correct pronunciation is “macaron”, with one “o”, like the French say it… But I digress. How do you beat a macaron?
You take two macarons and put ice cream in the middle and you’ve created an all star summer, party, dessert winner. And this is exactly what Zakeeya Mitha, founder of Durban based Sugarlicious has accomplished. Her family run business has exploded onto the scene and garnered a dedicated following. Starting with the delicate macaron which is made with almond flour and naturally gluten free, Zakeeya added the delicious twist of handmade ice-cream and nestled it into stylish square paper cups lined with tissue paper. It’s a treat just to look at and even more so to taste when you consider the flavour combinations of Fererro, Raffaello, Nutella, Burfee, Coconut, Unicorn Tears, Cookies & cream, Bombay crush, and more…. I got to try them at the recent Cape Town Coffee and Chocolate expo and was totally enraptured by the Bombay Crush flavour, although the Coconut came a close second and then the Choc Mint and then Milo….. well, you get the picture.
I met Zakeeya on her recent trip to Cape Town. She is bubbly and down to earth and I had a great time getting to know her. I got to ask her a few questions about her product and how she balances work and life.
What inspired the creation of an ice cream macaron?
I had seen a picture online, and decided I had to try it and since there was no chance of an international trip at the time I had to make it myself.
Tell me about your product range, ingredients, flavours etc.
We are constantly adding flavours, in the chocolate ganache filled macarons I’ve done things like mocha, watermelon, pina colada . I use only the best ingredients and refuse to compromise on this. In the ice cream macarons we have done things like Earl grey, smoked mocha, cinnamon chocolate as well as some traditional flavours!
Please describe your food journey from how you started in the food industry to where you are now.
I started baking at a very young age, and and in the last 14 years went between baking cakes and day jobs of pushing paper, until I started my obsession with macarons in 2012. Then in 2013 I stepped out of my comfort zone and started trading at the markets with normal macarons, I then introduced ice cream macarons to my product range in 2015. I decided to get a diploma in patisserie and started working towards that in 2015 and Alhumdulillah that is now complete.
Tell me a little about your family and the challenges of balancing work and home life.
I am extremely blessed alhumdulillah, I have so much support from the people around me, and that makes all this possible! There are days when I don’t feel like going back into the kitchen and preparing supper, toasted cheese sandwiches to the rescue!
What is your favourite flavour of your own macaron?
This generally varies, as I introduce new flavours! Over all I would however say Earl grey.
What is the vision of your business?
To Insha Allah open a Pattiserie one day.
Who inspires you?
There’s quiet a few people each with their own strength, to name a few Karim Bourgi, Adriano Zumbo, Mellisa Coppel.
Any passions besides food?
Does desert count as a seperate passion? I enjoy reading and while I do have a huge collection of recipe books. I also read non fiction novels.
Where can people buy your Macarons?
At the Wondermarket in Umhlanga on the last Sunday of the month and we do pop up stores and events as well, and we are opening a small retail outlet in the very near future. Follow us on social media for updates.
Any advice for other developing small businesses?
Put your head down and get on with it, the time will pass anyway so you may as well do what you love. Always keep yourself grounded (pray pray pray!) and conduct your business in a way that Allah swt will be pleased with you always. Don’t be disheartened if things don’t go the way you expect them to, go back to the drawing board and try again!
Sugarlicious currently trades at the Durban markets and has plans to open an outlet early December. If you want to get your fix you’ll have to look out for them at the occasional markets they come to in Cape Town. There’s something planned for January and I will keep you posted as soon as I know more. Maybe if we ask nicely, Zakeeya will make a plan to have an outlet in Cape Town too, please, please, pretty please……