Like many fashion models, Kristel van Valkenhoef has an appreciation for aesthetics. While she’s not hanging up her heels just yet, the catwalk regular is dipping her toes into to the world of confectionery. Van Valkenhoef recently launched Botanic Bakery to pursue her passion for making delectable treats. Albeit, this isn’t just your regular offering of eclairs, cream puffs, and tarts.
Inspired by the skills she learnt in her mother’s kitchen, the Communications and Multimedia Design grad is elevating the craft of baking into a true art form. “Baking has always been an important part of my life. It was a way to relax together, and still is. When I started traveling for my modeling career, the love for baking always traveled with me,” van Valkenhoef told Lonely Planet.
Inspired by her lifelong affinity for crystals, von Valkenhoef has been busy perfecting her signature agate and geode slices. “When I was younger I was very much into crystals and their healing powers so I have collected many. I absolutely love the colors, textures, and shine. My mom would always call me a magpie because my eye always went to everything that was shiny. The inspiration actually came from the crystal coasters in Anthropology - I thought- hold on, that looks delicious...let’s make it!” And make it she did. Her agate slices, with their sumptuous, glassy finish and gold-leaf casing, caught the attention of major brands like Viktor and Rolf and Dom Perignon who tapped van Valkenhoef to create custom confectionery.
A career high for sure, one that van Valkenhoef likens to the rush she got while walking the runway for the likes of Céline and Dolce & Gabbana. “Botanic Bakery started as a passion project for me, and I got lucky to be able to do some amazing projects for friends and brands. To be honest, I’m still surprised how well my concept has been received by many different people from editors to clients. My recent feature on Vogue was a little coronation of all my hard work. I am in a very happy place right now, I’m not sure where all this is going to take me,” she said.
The Dutch native, who confesses she doesn’t have a sweet tooth herself but has a weakness for a complex flavor pairing, is currently operating out of the East Village confectionery studio Brooklyn Floral Delight. But that’s not to say she doesn’t have big dreams for her fledgling business and she isn’t afraid of the undertaking it will require to get there.
“Growing up into doing something you really really love, and accepting that it is ok to follow that path. Working night after night fueled by passion without feeling fatigue because you know you are doing exactly what you want to do. My dream to have whimsical stores in places like SoHo or Place Vendome where people can discover my imaginary candy world,” she mused.
It seems like Willy Wonka has met his fashionable match - watch this space.