Marianna and Oleg Chibovskij have found an unusual way of getting rich here in Prague. They have become the Czech Republic's honey cake barons. Honey Cake or Medovnik in Czech is well known in Ukraine or Russia, and now the Czech Republic is engulfed by honey cake fever. The Chibovskijs started its production six years ago and now sell on average a staggering 20,000 cakes a month.
Medovnik's main ingredient is honey, 'med' in Czech. It has three pastry layers glued together by custard. Marianna Chibovskij, who originally came here eight years ago from Russia, used to make it at home until a friend of hers tasted it at her birthday party and decided to sell it in his own restaurant. It took another three years for people to realise that her hand-made honey cake - made to Marianna's grandmother's recipe - was really something special.
"We had to teach people to eat this cake. The cake looks quite ugly it has neither chocolate topping nor decoration. But it tastes very nice. Czechs were used to buying cakes that look the part, but this is different. When we started we had to let people taste the cake for free. Those who tasted it once came back and bought a whole cake. "
Medovnik is only sold in restaurants and a few confectioneries so it remains exclusive. None of the supermarkets are allowed to sell it in large quantities as this would ruin its image based on quality and rarity. Oleg confidently talks about their business strategy.
"I am against promotion. I have had many offers from TV and magazines to advertise but I don't want to. Promotion is necessary for products which you can't sell. People who taste the cake buy it. Czech people don't buy the cheapest things, they buy quality. They want to spend money on something good and special. The cake is special and that is why people buy it. "
To test the quality, Oleg's pastry chefs are asked to taste two of their cakes every day to make sure they are up to scratch.
"Medovnik is sold in all the Czech Republic, it is distributed to Slovakia we are thinking of selling it in Germany and Holland but it is difficult because the market is more developed there. We will get over this problem sooner or later and get on the market and increase our offer. "
Marianna has already picked up some other cakes, of course all made to traditional Russian recipes, which should appear on the Czech market before long. Both she and her husband are graduates of the mathematical-physical university in Moscow, and spent a long time working out the right dosage for sixty honey cakes. They are proud of their recipes, the fruit of six years´ work, and keep them top secret.
This is how my friends, Fred and Marika, reacted to the cake:
"-That is nice.
-Can I have a bit?
-Has it got some coffee in it?
-I am not sure.
-It tastes like it might have a little bit of coffee flavour in it.
-It is a paradise.
-It has a nice texture hasn't it? It is not dry but it is not moist either. It is quite light and fluffy. You would have thought it to be very sweet but it is not. I was expecting it to be all sickly and horrid but actually I will have another piece please. We like this cake. Do you like this cake?
-And it has this lovely golden colour to it.
-It is like sunshine.
-Yummy, I think you should tell us where you get this cake from. We want some more. You are not supposed to eat the fork, mate.
The only down side to the honey cake is that it might take a long time to get rid of the weight you put on eating it.