in Beat Magazine
The foundation of Mister Nice Guy, a vegan cupcake business run by husband and wife duo, Lucas Cook and Deb Kantor, is built on love - literally. It all started when Deb, after managing an animation studio in Sydney, decided she needed a change. For four years, she travelled around the world before finding herself in Portland, Oregon where, as fate would have it, she met Lucas. They moved in together and Lucas found his way to Deb’s heart through her stomach by baking for her once a week.
“During the first week that I met Lucas he made me strawberry shortcake and an upside down pineapple cake, they were the best things I had ever tried!” says Deb. “I was in love! Then it turned into this regular weekly thing where he was always baking these weird and awesome things for me. Eventually he started teaching me how to do it, even with mixing he had a certain way to do things, so I learnt from him and then we started thinking about the idea of opening up our own bakery.”
By this point, the pair had been living in Melbourne and learning more about veganism after watching footage of a rescue by Animal Liberation Victoria on A Current Affair. “I met with them [Animal Liberation Victoria] that week and started volunteering as a graphic designer,” says Deb. “Eventually we learnt more and more about where our food comes from and how it’s really made and we realized we wanted to turn vegan.”
As such, Lucas, who bakes his cupcakes at Lentil As Anything’s kitchen, worked at discovering the perfect recipe for vegan cupcakes. “For me as a baker it’s just a matter of finding and using different materials to get the same result out of something I want to bake,” says Lucas. “A long time ago someone figured out how to bake using milk and eggs, and that became the norm. That is only one way to achieve a result; there are many ways to do the same thing. Baking is a science; you just have to use different ingredients to get done whatever it is you need to get done.”
Although vegan foods have grown in popularity over recent years, there’s still the stigma that without the traditional baking ingredients such as butter and eggs, the result is a less flavoursome product. However, Mister Nice Guy is set on proving these non-believers wrong.
“We just want to show the world that awesome things can be made without the use of animals,” says Deb. “In this day and age I think that every business in our society should be using Fairtrade, cruelty-free, and organic ingredients or at least work towards that. Our world is going through some very tough times and we need to start to make big changes in the way we do business.”
To inject a little more fun to their cupcake business, Mister Nice Guy also features some humorous cupcake-themed comic strips created by the collaborative efforts of Deb and her father, Frantz Kantor. “Deb’s dad starting sketching up these funny gags of this cupcake having an argument with a piece of broccoli which was hilarious, we posted it up on our blog and facebook and people loved them so we started making it a regular thing,” explains Lucas.
Frantz, a designer and illustrator, usually sketches each comic strip before handing it over to Deb, who then digitalises it on the computer. Poop jokes, cute gags, punny titles and many other forms of comedy all make a showing in the comic strips, which is only natural since Deb, Frantz and Lucas often collaborate in the idea-forming process. But no matter who the ideas come from, Frantz insists that they are often derived from, well, the everyday. “Ideas come from life,” says Frantz. “It’s funny the things that happen to you that you can use in a comic strip! Like being eaten by a horse, or being chased down the street by rabid meat-eating flowers, you know, every day stuff like that right there.”
Humour and love is certainly a palpable element in Mister Nice Guy’s creations, but let it be known that the designing is left in the hands of solely Frantz and Deb; you’d hardly see any of their cupcakes overly decorated like how they often are. “We saw that everyone put a lot of effort into making their cupcakes picturesque almost and we weren’t into that at all, we just wanted them to be the best thing you’ve ever eaten,” says Deb. “Also, a major part in this is the fact that Lucas is the baker, it’s Mister Nice Guy and that’s him, if we made it too decorated; he’d feel like a dick.”