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Charlie and the chocolate factory; JENNY'S CAKES GET ROYAL APPROVAL.

Byline: By Zoe Chamberlain, Lifestyle Editor

LIFE'S sweet for Jenny Hudson because everyone loves her cakes - including Prince Charles and Camilla.

Jenny, from Warwick, sent the Royals one of her luxury creations to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

And the couple were so delighted that the future King posted a personal letter of thanks.

Now her company, Sweet As, is booming as people turn their backs on traditional fruit cakes in favour of her yummy chocky delights.

Jenny, 26, was on honeymoon in Australia with husband Wayne, 30, when she had her first taste of success.

"The chocolate cakes in Australia were amazing," says the professional chef who used to work at Claridges in London.

"When we returned home I knew making chocolate cakes was something I really wanted to do."

Jenny took the plunge while on maternity leave with baby son Cian two years ago.

"I decided it was now or never," she said. "I knew about catering but hadn't got a clue about business, so I went on a four-day business course which really helped.

"They suggested I approached the Prince's Trust for a business loan. I didn't know they supported people like me, but they gave me a pounds 2,500 loan and a pounds 250 marketing grant.

"That gave me a lot of confidence as I spent the money on producing leaflets, business cards and a website.

"It didn't cost a lot to set up as I hire the oven at my local church to bake the cakes, then decorate them at home. Otherwise I'd have had to apply for my kitchen to be licensed which would have been more complicated.

"I took things slowly to start with and wanted to build up a good base of customers before moving into my own unit. Now I've done that, I'm hoping to move into my unit soon."

Jenny took her first batches of alternative chocolate Christmas cakes to local farm shops and delis to seek orders.

"The response was amazing and I had a really busy first Christmas, making over 100 cakes," says Jenny - a fan of ALL chocolate, including Cadbury's.

"It was a lot, but living on adrenaline is one of the tools of the catering trade!"

Jenny sent Charles and Camilla the gourmet chocolate cake in April to celebrate their first anniversary and to say thank you for the Prince's Trust support.

She sent it to Clarence House in London and it was flown up to the couple in Balmoral that evening.

"Charles sent a lovely letter back saying how much they'd enjoyed it," said Jenny. "Interest in my company really grew after that."

Bespoke wedding and birthday cakes made with luxury Belgian chocolate are Jenny's main line of business.

But she also makes brownies and chocolate biscuit cakes which she sells to local farm shops and delis.

Her brownies recently won a gold award at the Guild of Fine Food Retailers Awards.

"I was shaking when I got the news. I was so pleased," she said.

Sweet As cakes start at around pounds 40 for an eight-inch birthday cake and pounds 350 upwards for wedding cakes.

"Chocolate wedding cakes are becoming very popular," said Jenny. "Nowadays it's often only granny who likes fruit cake! I make a lot of three-tier chocolate wedding cakes that the couple serve instead of dessert."

Jenny splits her time between baking, decorating and delivering cakes and playing with Cian.

"It's been a massive lifestyle change," said Jenny.

"Sometimes I wake up and think 'how am I going to do everything I need to do today?'.

"But I have created the perfect job for myself. And, when you've got a passion for what you do, it's not like work at all."

Jenny is running a Chocolate Experience weekend at Bubbenhall House Hotel, Coventry, on November 18, involving everything from tastings and workshops to chocolate cocktails and breakfasts!

For more information visit www.sweet-as.co.uk or call on 07958 550154.

LETTER PROM PRINCE CHARLES

Dear Jenny,

I CANNOT tell you how absolutely delighted my wife and I were to receive your marvellous cake to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.

It was the most beautiful creation and it tastes just as good as it looks!

Your touching gift was made all the more special by the fact that you were set up in your luxury Belgian chocolate cake-making business by my Trust.

I am so delighted that your company is such a success and, if I might say so having tasted one of your products, I'm not in the least bit surprised!

This comes with my warmest good wishes and heartfelt thanks,

Yours most sincerely, Charles

CAPTION(S):

TASTE OF HEAVEN: Jenny Hudson adds the finishing touches to one of her cakes in a range enjoyed by Prince Charles and Camilla, above
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:801
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