Eat, Pray, Love: The Art Of Cake Design, as Told by Mannix Peña
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Eat, Pray, Love: The Art Of Cake Design, as Told by Mannix Peña

Eat, Pray, Love: The Art Of Cake Design, as Told by Mannix Peña

Fashion | August 5, 2021
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#CakeBoss Mannix Peña shares the story of his success in designing cakes, curating an impressive art collection, and creating his personal style. Ain’t cakes grand?

When you’re looking for a cake that’s adorned with delicate fondant flowers, Mannix Peña‘s creations immediately come to mind. One of the most coveted bakers in the country, he is the go-to person for special occasions—especially weddings—because of his picturesque cakes. Browse through his Instagram under Cakes by Mannix and you’ll be treated to photos of breathtaking multi-layered works of art that happen to also be delicious.

From Canada to the Philippines

At only 48 years old, Mannix has been in the business for six years—fulfilling the dreams of cake lovers. “I’ve never really thought about making cakes as a career. I was a creative director for an ad agency while I was in Toronto. However, when I came back to the Philippines, I wanted to explore other things.”

“I started learning and developing my other skills while engaging in different kinds of enterprises. Nothing really piqued my interest, until I started taking some classes at Henny Sison,” he continues. “After finishing my first class, I just fell in love with the art of cake making so much—that I started joining other classes and learning from other mentors.”

While fondly reminiscing about his foray in baking, he adds, “When I started creating [these] cakes, I realized it brought a different sense of purpose in my life that I’ve never felt before. The pleasure of seeing my cakes being part of special moments in my clients’ lives brought [me] so much joy that it drove me to further improve on my craft and workmanship.”

Beauty in Art and Fashion

Aside from his creative skills in the baking department, Mannix has an amazing and vast collection of artworks displayed in his ultra-sleek home. When asked about his passion for museum-worthy pieces he says, “I love beautiful things. I’ve always appreciated the beauty in art. That’s where the appeal of collecting started.”

“The very first piece that started me on this journey was an 8×10 [work by] Sid Natividad of a boat on a ripple of water that I acquired at an auction. This piece was very special to me because it evoked a memory of my childhood—a simpler time [of] playing with paper boats on a sink filled with water. I also found it very elegant because it was painted so delicately almost lifelike,” he adds.

Aside from his tasteful art collection, Mannix also loves to shop. As I pick up my jaw off the floor, I view his extremely organized walk-in closet—filled with clothing and shoes that he treasures. I even had to remind myself that I was not in an upscale store in Paris. In fact, his superb taste in fashion was just so admirable that I had to ask him to share a few shopping tips:

  1. Buy what you can afford. It’s not about the brand, but how you carry and create your own style. Don’t buy fakes. 
  2. Learn to watch out for and invest in key pieces.
  3. When it looks good on photos, it does not necessarily mean that it looks good on you. So, always try things on.
  4. Buy quality items. It’s never about the quantity. Mediocre items do not match the impact of one good piece. 
  5. Find your own personal style. Don’t buy things just because everybody has them. Your individuality shines through your style.

Weddings Amid the Pandemic

The pandemic has changed all our lives, thus, big weddings have come to a halt. Parties have been postponed and some, even canceled. His business has certainly been affected dramatically, but his outlook on these unfortunate events brings about the light at the end of the tunnel.

“With every adversity comes learning. With so much loss that the pandemic brought, it really made me thankful for so many things. It made me understand that life can be so fragile and short. Learning to balance taking care of yourself and helping others especially during these times of need while living each day to the fullest,” he shares.

“Business was quite slow during the pandemic. However, the biggest concern for me was the welfare of my employees. I believe that money can always be earned back but life can’t.”

Of Lessons on Business and Life

With his positive views and aspirations, I asked Mannix about what lessons his parents have given in owning a business. He ponders for a while and even closes his eyes for a moment to remember his father who recently passed. “The most important advice that my parents gave me was to have strong principles. They also instilled in me the value of developing good work ethics and leadership. My father has always taught me to be a good leader—by not only looking out for myself or the company but also for the people behind the company.”

“Ten years from now, I would love to have the opportunity to share and to inspire more people with my work while giving back to the community,” he continues. “I would also love to be able to combine my passion for art, cakes, and fashion through mentorship and philanthropic endeavors. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to provide an avenue to engage more people to appreciate the beauty in arts.”

As we finish up the interview over a scrumptious strawberry shortcake that he himself baked, I leave his beautiful home filled with awe that someone so successful has remained so down to earth. I felt very fortunate to have been let into his world of fashion, sweets, and life lessons.

Photos by Ed Simon

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