Many food lovers equate a vegan diet with deprivation believing that recipes prepared without butter, eggs or other animal products are bound to be tasteless and boring.
The award-winning Mellissa Morgan - also known as the delightfully flamboyant Ms Cupcake - is determined to change this thanks to her delicious vegan and vegetarian cupcakes which have earned her an international reputation.
She will be in South Africa later this year when she makes an appearing at the Durban Good Food & Wine Show which runs from August 8 to 11.
And Ms Cupcake, like contestants in the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, is happy to show that she can hold her own against bakers of traditional high-end cakes.
The winner of Cupcake Wars was baker Chloe Coscarelli. It is important to note that she didn’t rely on health benefits or sympathy for animals to promote the virtues of vegan food. Instead, the vegan cupcakes just tasted better.
This will be Ms Cupcake’s first trip to South Africa and she cannot wait to show people that they don’t have to deprive themselves if deciding to go vegan: “My cupcakes are very special as I don’t use eggs or dairy products and yet I produce decadent and exciting cupcakes which taste exactly like you would expect them to taste and you cannot even notice that all those things are missing!”
Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and the Glee star Lea Michele have embraced vegan eating while the book “Skinny Bitch,” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin became a best seller.
Ms Cupcake is a former school teacher who has turned a hobby into a lucrative business. She is a Canadian who now lives and works in England, operating from a colourful shop in Brixton. Her first cookbook was recently launched and is something she is clearly very proud of.
Her first foray was selling her products from a market stall in Greenwich.
She had no start-up grant, no bank loans and no experience of the catering industry when she decided to launch her business.
She was determined that everyone would be able to eat cake, regardless of allergies: "Everybody deserves great cake. It is my job to create indulgent and decadent cakes for them regardless of what they can, and cannot eat. I want to bring ‘free from’ cake to the masses. My team and I do this through baking incredible cakes, raising the profile of a vegan diet and educating people on how they can create ‘free from’ cakes for themselves.
Mellissa is one of the attractions at this year’s Durban Good Food & Wine Show at the Durban Exhibition Centre from August 8 to August 11. Other celebrity chefs appearing at the show are TV personality James Martin who is a regular face on South African television; Vivek Singh of London’s Cinnamon Club who has transformed the face of Indian cooking and Anjali Pathak, an exciting talent in the Indian food and spice arena and part of the famous Patak spice family.