A fan of American home baking from a young age, Tarek grew up in London and attended the American School. It was here that he got a sweet tooth for American-style baking with classmates bringing in brownies and cupcakes made to traditional family recipes from the US.
It was on a trip to America to visit his sister years later that he realised there was nowhere in London selling the sorts of goodies he’d enjoyed in his childhood and he got the bright idea to bring the taste of American baking to London. And so The Hummingbird Bakery was born.
The first bakery opened in Notting Hill in 2004 on Portobello Road and the first batches of cupcakes sold out, much to Tarek’s surprise. Since then, the cupcake craze took hold in London and the city developed a taste for generous, creamy frosting and feather-light sponges. Red Velvet, with its hint of cocoa and cream cheese frosting, was officially a hit and has remained the bakery’s bestselling flavour ever since.
Nowadays, the bakery sells a range of authentic American cupcakes, layer cakes, brownies and desserts, including baked New York Cheesecake, meringue-topped Lemon Meringue Pie, Mile High Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake with Maldon sea salt caramel and Marshmallow Fluff-filled Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.
The success of his recipes led Tarek to write four bestselling cookbooks sharing the secrets of his favourite American treats: The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, Cake Days, Home Sweet Home and Life is Sweet.
After the success of the Notting Hill shop, more bakeries followed across London in South Kensington, Soho, Islington, Richmond, Spitalfields and a seventh bakery is scheduled to open in summer 2017 in the town of Guildford.
Everything you’ll find on the counters at The Hummingbird Bakery is baked fresh on-site from the best available ingredients and decorated by hand by skilled bakers. Cakes can be bought by the slice or whole, with a limited selection kept aside each morning for walk-in requests. Online ordering and delivery is available for selected postcodes and speedy delivery is available through Deliveroo.
Tarek chose Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity as focus for the bakery’s main charity activity and customers can donate an optional £1 donation when placing their online orders.
The bakery also supports Terrence Higgins Trust for World AIDS Day with an annual charity red ribbon cupcake to help raise money and further awareness.
Furthermore, all leftover cupcakes at the bakeries are offered to charities for collection at the end of the day.
Of his award, Tarek commented, “I consider it a tremendous honour to receive an MBE for services to Baking & Confectionery as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2017.
As a British Citizen who immigrated to London from Lebanon as a very young child, I’m delighted to have made a worthwhile contribution to the baking sector in the city where I grew up.
When I opened my first bakery in Notting Hill in 2004 I had no idea if my brand of American baking would be well-received by discerning Londoners. Cupcakes and American baking in general were considered particularly sweet to British taste buds. Despite this, four cookbooks and many cupcakes later, I’m glad that I followed my instincts and took a risk. Luckily this demand has been sustained and I’m delighted that classic American goodies, such as Red Velvet, are now widely recognised and enjoyed across the country.”
Nothing beats the real thing. Find our bakery locations and try the authentic taste of fresh American baking made to our bestselling recipes.
Start your baking adventure with our bestselling cookbooks. Each one filled with page after page of beautiful photography and fool-proof recipes for everything from cupcakes and layer cakes to pancakes and ice cream.
Collapsed cupcakes? Burnt sponges? Whatever your burning baking question, we have a wealth of expert information for the home baker over on our baking blog.