You might have seen him walking carefully carrying a metre-tall cake across Eastern Avenue. Perhaps you saw him on the train from Redfern, tempting commuters with a giant Ferrero Rocher tower. Or maybe he was sitting in your lecture, casually handing out slices of cookie dough crumble. Wherever you see him, you’ll never forget the sight of Arkady de Jong and his giant, gorgeous baked goods.
Every Wednesday, Arkady bakes an oversized, delicious tower of cake. Every Thursday, he carefully shepherds his cake through the train, across campus, and into his classes, where he gives out slices to friends and strangers alike. Metre-tall fudge models of UTS, giant Ferrerro Rochers mounted in chocolate cake, and rainbow-layered, sprinkle-covered, violet-dripping Wear it Purple towers are all given away to anyone who asks.
Arkady’s been baking since he was a child, when he was given an a personalised apron “which I made sure to use as often as possible”. He had a knack for baking—despite some early setbacks—which eventually led to him bringing “some delicious treats to school every Friday, hoping to keep everyone well-fed and stress-free”. Although the baking started simple—slices, fudge and rocky road—Arkady’s HSC stress led to procrastibaking. To help him and his classmates deal with exam stress, he started bringing in “bigger and more ridiculous multi-layered cakes, sometimes three days a week and often to exams”.
Fears that the weekly bake would stop after high school were unfounded. Arkady’s baking habits have grown even more ambitious. “I take cakes to my tutorials and share them with friends or extra nice people I happen to meet.” The reaction is always positive, though “at the start of semester I get very confused reactions. A ridiculous amount of people wish me happy birthday.”
Although a few friends have ordered his cakes for parties, Arkady has no plans to make his habit into a business. The cake business is apparently a “scary, stressful world, and I don’t want to reach a point where it’s no longer fun”.
The easiest way to get your hands on Arkady’s delicious cake is to “just enrol in all my classes”. But if that’s not an option, wander around campus on a Thursday, and follow your nose. “If you smell sugar and chocolate, it’s probably me!” he says. Then do what I did—smile, introduce yourself, and ask for a slice of cake. He’s happy to share. After all, he’ll be back next week, with a new cake and some new friends.
[disclosure: the reporter met Arkady last week and accepted many pieces of cake in return for this story]