”Written byAlice Viskat
“I always picture someone biting into one of my pastries and I want to give them the best possible first bite.”
If you haven’t taken a trip to the Garden Route and happened to stumble into the wonderland that is the Prince of Tarts, let me describe it to you… As you open the door, the warm scent of fresh pastries rushes out to greet you. You see intricately patterned tiles, stunning murals, hanging plants and smiles from the staff so warm you can see them through their masks. You’re met with a cornucopia of delicious food – from perfect, meticulous little tarts (some no bigger than the palm of your hand) in all different colours and flavours – blueberry cheesecake, caramel, coffee, pecan nut, dark chocolate; to warm and juicy roast vegetable quiches that break open perfectly as you indulge in that first bite to decadent bolognese pies oozing with flavour, and the list goes on and on.
Tyrone Schroder, the prince in question, was like most of us when we’re freshly out of high school: bewildered, confused and a little lost. He dabbled in this and that, always certain if he stumbled upon something good and put his heart and soul into it, he could build it into something great. Which is exactly what he did! He built his famous bakery café from the ground up, and by the ground, I mean the soft sawdust of the Wild Oats Farmers Market in Sedgefield.
“It’s very random how it started actually. So my mom sold tarts at the market and she also had another job so she was really busy and one day she woke me up in the morning – it’s very vivid, I don’t know why it’s still so clear in my mind – she said, “Tyrone, Tyrone, I need your help making tarts today!” And I said I’d try and she left me to do them completely by myself. She definitely thought I was more capable than I thought I was. I remember mixing with one hand, phone in the other, frantically asking her, “How should this look? What consistency should this be?” From there it became a once a week thing at the market and she saw it as her gap to focus on her other job.”
“I remember mixing with one hand, phone in the other, frantically asking her, “How should this look? What consistency should this be?”
So the Queen of Puddings became the Prince of Tarts and his passion for it slowly grew into an obsession with treating people to the best possible taste experience he could offer. For five years he manned the stall at the market and provided many a local and tourist with the most sought-after sweet treat in the area, content to surf and keep himself otherwise busy. It wasn’t until he went to Stellenbosch, however, that he realised the potential his business had and that there was a massive hole in the market of quality baked desserts and pastries.
“I know everyone loves food and I know how lekker it is to really enjoy something so at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to – making sure everyone else can have that same enjoyment. I always picture someone biting into one of my pastries and I want to give them the best possible first bite.”
He moved back to George, his ambition and determination renewed, and began grafting. He started taking samples of his famous pecan nut pies to coffee shops around the Garden Route and slowly became known for them. From there he became a regular supplier and soon he opened his own bakery. He still felt something was missing though, he wanted to create a space where people could get quality food as well as feeling warm and uplifted. Over the course of a few years, with loads of persistence and support from his family and friends, he managed to open up the Prince of Tarts bakery and café.
“I know everyone loves food and I know how lekker it is to really enjoy something so at the end of the day that’s what it comes down to – making sure everyone else can have that same enjoyment.”
“My favourite thing to make after all this time is the pecan nut pie. There’s just so much that goes into it. Every single component has to be the perfect temperature, the exact consistency and the exact amount. It all has to come together at the perfect time as well otherwise it’s a flop. I’ve made them for over 10 years now and every single time is a challenge. You have to be so focussed. Then the weather plays a huge role: if it’s Winter and the room temperature is lower, even by a degree, it changes everything. It constantly humbles you and keeps you on your toes. I always walk into the bakery and roll up my sleeves and say, “Hello old friend, we meet again.” And we kind of size each other up.”
He often takes a break from baking and running the business to sit amongst the customers and feel the atmosphere. “Perspective is everything.” He says, “I don’t think 18-year-old Tyrone could even imagine a place like this. You know, oftentimes we feel so confined to the roles we’re assigned to when we’re little and we pay too much attention to what society says we can and can’t do, we forget that we can actually do anything.”
His goal is to keep growing his business and spread the taste experience far and wide (as far as Cape Town, we hope). But in the meantime, if you’re in the Garden Route, make sure to visit the Prince of Tarts café. You may even run into Tyrone, excitedly whipping batter or frosting a cake in the bakery.
If you’re not in the Garden Route but your mouth is watering, pop over to Häzz in Newlands or Stellenbosch to try one of his delicious tarts.
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