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Monet and Degas: an acquired taste or just plain tasty?

Confectioners Nastasia and Vitaly’s new range of cakes is all the rage in St. Petersburg and Tomsk. Customers are invited to chew over some great works of art, quite literally.
By Julia Rybina, Anastasiya Karagodina, RBTH
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The scrumptiously successful “Marfa” cakes were not meant to be a long-term venture. Nastasia and Vitaly worked together in a restaurant—she as a manager, he as a confectioner.
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“I was looking to do something completely different, something creative. We came up with a joint idea: Vitaly will bake cakes, and I’ll decorate them with berries and post pictures on Instagram,” Nastasia told RBTH.
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Nastasia and Vitaly’s first creations were decorated with flowers or fruit, and didn’t look like anything out of the ordinary. It soon dawned that they needed something with a bit more bite, so to speak. “Thanks to my art school training and passion for painting, I had the idea of drawing on the cakes,” says Nastasia.
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Nastasia’s first attempt was a drawing of irises on a bird-cherry cake that she and Vitaly made for the “Day of Apples” charity festival. That was the turning point: “We stopped using berries because people were demanding artwork.”
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The Marfa cakes were initially done in a minimalist style with a gray-purple color scheme. But St. Petersburgers wanted brighter colors, so the cakes began to depict flowers, mountains and even outer space.
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Customers began sending pictures and photos to Nastasia for her to put on the cakes. It wasn’t long before requests were made for paintings by famous artists.
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Nastasia says that canvases by Monet, van Gogh, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali are the most popular.
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Her cakes have also featured Valentin Serov’s masterpiece “Girl with Peaches”. Her own original works, including poppies, ducks and birds, are also in demand.
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As more and more orders flow in, Nastasia says that the duo needs to expand into a team.
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“For a long time I guarded my skills and secrets like a predator. But then I realized it was pointless being so greedy and possessive. Teaching others is also fun and worthwhile,” she admits. After the success of Marfa, Nastasia noticed that her drawings were being copied: "At first I was upset and angry when I saw copies of my trademark poppies and lighthouses everywhere," she says. "But then I calmed down. It's not really about the pictures anyway. It's better to help people learn how to draw than to be creative. Inspiring others is great. We need more of it. "
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The couple operate mostly in St. Petersburg, but send cakes to Moscow several times a month. “To be honest, I don’t really want to overstretch on deliveries. Every city has something valuable all of its own. Let us be part of St. Petersburg’s uniqueness,” says Nastasia.
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Over its 18-month lifespan, the Marfa project has had a few eyebrow-raising orders. Nastasia relates one such incident: “Someone wanted an edible Putin, but I never draw living people on my cakes. It’s a bit tasteless, if you’ll pardon the pun. All the more so if it’s the president—they’ll be carving up his face! I flatly refused.”

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