Red Carnation Hotels was born from a love story that began in the 1950s when a beautiful young woman named Bea caught the eye of the distinguished hotelier, Stanley Tollman. It is a love story that has lasted a lifetime and continues to weave itself through the tapestry of the Red Carnation brand – a name that derives from the red carnation flower worn in Stanley’s lapel.

Our red velvet cake is a testament to the legacy that Mr Tollman built, a legacy that remains at the core of the Red Carnation brand. To uncover the story behind this beloved cake, we spoke to Red Carnation's Director of Chocolate and Pâtisserie, Paula Stakelum, who shares her insight into how the Red Carnation red velvet cake came to fruition, and why it is so important in capturing the essence of the Red Carnation family and brand.

Red Carnation red velvet cake and fork

What was the inspiration behind the red velvet cake? And why red velvet?

As I embarked on the journey of my new role at Red Carnation Hotels earlier this year (2022), Mr Raggett and I would discuss what best invoked the essence of RCH, and how we could capture this through the narration of food. During one such discussion with Viki Tollman, the idea of developing a ‘Red velvet Cake’ recipe as our collection’s amenity was born.

Red Velvet cake was Mr and Mrs Tollman’s favourite cake to share and enjoy together; the cake as we know it today celebrates their love story. It also has a special connection with Mr. and Mrs. Tollman’s native South Africa and offers a toast to the very place that their love story began. Traditionally in South Africa, communities would gather to harvest mulberries, which were dried and ground before being added to the cake mixture. This gives the cake the traditional red colour that is symbolic of Red Carnation Hotels and the red carnation flower famously worn by Mr Tollman.

Besides its great taste and the beautiful origins of its introduction to Red Carnation, what is so special about the red velvet cake?

When we create amenities for our guests, we create with the intention of curating a moment that they will enjoy and cherish forever. Our red velvet cake was carefully created to encapsulate this, the recipe being full of flavour yet light and indulgent – the perfect treat for two people to enjoy with a glass of champagne.

Alongside creating a moment for our guests to treasure, however, this cake also brings the people of Red Carnation Hotels closer together thanks to the shared use of the recipe across our properties, using only the finest of ingredients. By doing so, our red velvet cake not only affords an intimate moment for guests to cherish, but, just as the South African tradition of making this cake brought communities together, it brings the many people of Red Carnation closer also.

By creating something with the intention of curating a moment for our guests to enjoy, we have created a moment for our guests across our properties to share also.

above shot of the Red Carnation red velvet cake and fork

When was the cake first introduced?

We first began to introduce the cake from March 2022. It was initially introduced here in Ireland, shortly followed by London, Dorset, and then Guernsey. This September, we will launch the cake in Geneva.

Can you share with us the recipe for the cake?

Some recipes we keep close to our hearts – that’s what sets us apart!