Creating pretty desserts for brands, weddings, and birthdays is what Caroline Khoo does. All while pushing creative boundaries, cook book writing, and producing a stunning Instagram feed.
We’ve long lusted after nectar and stone’s beautiful desserts. Layering candy floss, metallic sprinkles, and pastel petals, nectar and stone’s Caroline Khoo creates whimsical desserts with a pretty twist. We chatted with Caroline about dessert trends, publishing a sold-out book, kitchen disasters, and ice cream collaborations.
OccasionLab As a self-coined ‘dessert designer’ your work looks impeccable by the time the world sees it, but surely there are hiccups during the process.
nectar and stone “Disasters happen all the time. As I like to bake fresh anything can happen the day before or on the day. I've dropped a cake and stayed up all night to do it again. Yep, you do what you gotta do!"
OL Dessert trends are ever changing, but maintaining your individual style has elevated nectar and stone above trending influences to become a unique brand.
n & s “I've always said that being able to do something from your mind rather than a trend is key. Being creative, original, different, and ensuring that the dessert is pretty but tastes great too. I love to paint, and I’ve been doing that on my cakes for ages. It’s great to see that this idea is starting to take off more and abstract cakes are becoming a trend.”
OL Congratulations on selling out of your book – again!
n & s “I was very fortunate to be asked to create a book by Murdoch Publishers. The process was very easy for me in that I already knew what I would do if I ever had the opportunity presented to me. n & s has always been about sharing my journey and that is made of my layers. I wanted my book to be designed in the same manner, where people would be able to travel on my journey in layers, but at the same time be making their own. I worked with an incredible team at Murdoch Publishers, a group of women who all understood my concept, and we worked together on achieving that vision. I didn't expect the book to sell out so quickly and am humbled that it has. I have a great global community and my publishers have also been amazing.”
OL We’d love to know how to book nectar and stone for an event.
n & s “I design and create the desserts based on the colour, mood, and theme of the event.” The result is “n & s style, tailored to them”. “This takes quite some time, so I require bookings several months ahead of the date.” Clients should make contact “at least 6 months prior”. They can come prepared with their “date, location, event mood board, guest numbers, and dietary requirements. From there I require a minimum dollar spend and quantity of desserts to be ordered”. Clients generally “have someone styling their event. It’s not really a service I provide at the moment” so I “talk to the stylist about what they are thinking in terms of setup. Delivery and display is done by me with a driver. I like to be at the event to see what’s going on, chat to the team, event organisers, and any chefs that are looking after where the desserts are kept”. “Every client is meaningful to me, I feel fortunate and lucky to be part of someone’s special event.”
OL Ice cream lovers celebrated when you launched your Champagne flavoured ice cream collaboration with Bulla Family Dairy.
n & s “I have been a forever Bulla customer. I absolutely adore the brand and it is Australian Family Owned which also sings to my heart. Collaborations like this take some time. Firstly, I only work with brands that I truly love, respect, and believe in. My relationship with the Bulla family has developed over time and being able to go to their factory, see ice cream being made, and experiment was amazing. We worked on the Champagne idea and explored flavour, colour, and texture. This all takes time, it’s not something that is schemed up in a day. A lot of thought and effort goes into this, and feedback from the team too.”
OL What about nectar and stone excites you each day?
n & s “Being able to create. I love that each day offers me the chance to do something I love.” “I feel that pushing creative boundaries is not settling for what has already been done. For me it is an opportunity to show people new ways, new techniques, and discovering.” “And I love to learn. Not just in the baking sense, but overall, I have a love for learning new skills and new techniques.”
OL Everything you create looks unmistakably ‘nectar and stone’. The brand has spread globally and it’s fantastic to see.
n & s “I don't really feel there is any particular formula other than truly loving what you do and believing in it. I do have a certain style, but this is something that’s natural for me. I’m very passionate about what I do, and I love to push myself to create and be original. I love that people enjoy it too. We change over time, and my brand has evolved as well. I think it still maintains its core principles of being simple, delicate, and feminine, but I think over time it has refined and become a lot prettier. I have a plan in place in how I want to see it develop and grow and think my community will be happy when they see what is ahead.”
OL What kicked off your nectar and stone adventure?
n & s “It was one year of my husband and family pushing me to start a business. They saw my work as original and unique. I’ve always loved hobbies like jewellery making, painting, and putting flowers together, so I think it was always going to happen.”
OL Four years in your progress must feel like a whirlwind!
n & s “I feel that the biggest change for me is being a mentor to my community and being able to share my lessons and mistakes. Being able to teach young individuals about being creative, loving what they do, and nurturing that for them.” Starting with only a $2,000 budget “I forced myself to try to learn as much as I could about doing things myself to save money”.
OL Your photography is stunning. We’d love to hear about that creative journey.
n & s “Thanks. I do take my own photos, including that of my cook book I'm Just Here For Dessert. I’m self-taught and it has all been about trial and error with my iPhone (or camera for the book). I like to play around with lighting, add props, and take lots of photos on different angles to see what looks best. Photography can be tricky in Summer when it’s really bright so times of shooting need to be adjusted.”
OL Is there an off-season for dessert creating, styling, and photography? Do you get a break!?
n & s “No, someone is always eating cake for something! I never truly switch off but that is what I love. I have recently forced some time off for myself and to see my kids play sport, etc. Family is very important to me.”
Creative Director and author Caroline Khoo established nectar and stone in 2013 with a vision to design, create, tell a story of eating with style, and push creative boundaries. From dessert creation to styling and photography, Caroline showcases and captures the soft and feminine aesthetic of the brand. nectar and stone work with a collection of clients that trust and allow Caroline’s creative direction, from top tier Australian and International brands to private and intimate occasions celebrated for marriages and birthdays.
VENDOR CREDITS (in order of appearance)
Header Photography: nectar and stone