New Zealand-born Stacey O'Gorman met Alex Hoffler while chefing in East London, when she moved there three years ago. The two shared a passion for food, and an aversion to the male-dominated British kitchen scene.
It was Hoffler who suggested the duo set up Meringue Girls. "Cupcakes were over and macaroons had been done. So, we thought, why not meringues?"
A friend suggested they try their luck on TV chef show Cooks to Market, where foodies pitch business ideas to investors. The pair won the show, beating an Indian street food vendor in the final episode's cook-off, and winning the approval of Harrods' food-hall buyer on the way.
Although the women didn't end up being stocked in Harrods (the retail giants wanted exclusivity, explains O'Gorman), the win, and the support of David Loftus (Jamie Oliver's food photographer, who posted a photo of their meringues to his 44,000 Instagram followers, giving them an instant social media presence) gave them the confidence to approach other stockists.
Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and Jamie Oliver's Recipease are now some of the many stockists snapping up their whimsically coloured, bite-sized meringue kisses.
The team is also in hot demand among high-end fashion labels. Their bespoke meringues - they customise flavours, colours and personalised messages - have graced tables at events for clients like Jimmy Choo, Alexander McQueen, Elizabeth Arden and Topshop.
Their meringues have been used to make a giant edible rug for Tate & Lyle's edible hotel, a rainbow meringue bar at Quaglino's restaurant and an enormous meringue daffodil for the Marie Curie hospice charity.
Meringues are baked four days a week at their new premises just off the uber-hip Broadway Market. They use free-range eggs from female entrepreneurs Two Chicks, and pride themselves on using natural colours and flavours (the pink colour comes from beetroot, and the green from seaweed).
Their list of flavours reads like something out of Willy Wonka: hot cross bun, strawberry and black pepper and the New-Zealand-inspired manuka honey. O'Gorman's favourite is the sweet and salty popcorn and Hoffler's the beetroot and chocolate.
Both believed meringues would be a fad, but the social media-savvy pair (they have amassed 35,000 followers on Instagram alone), show no signs of slowing down.
The busy pair recently launched Meringue Masterclasses, where visitors learn how to make the perfect meringues over a glass of prosecco and nibbles. They also do food styling for magazines and supermarket shoots that are usually fun and brightly coloured.
This is all on top of a continued presence at some of London's markets - they used local markets to get their brand known, and still have a stall at Broadway market - motherhood, and weddings (they do a roaring trade for weddings and O'Gorman is tying the knot in a New Zealand ceremony next summer).
Meringues by the Meringue Girls.
Picture / David Loftus.
The Meringue Girls have grown from the pair baking in Hoffler's house, to a team of nine women. At just 24 (O'Gorman) and 28 (Hoffler), they have had business offers streaming in; there's talk of franchising in New York and Dubai, of releasing their own branded bakeware line and setting up a cafe-cum-store stocking all things sugary and sweet, and they are busily testing recipes for their second cookbook, which will see them widen their scope from meringues (thankfully, laughs O'Gorman, who is becoming more than a little tired of them) to decadent sweet treats and baking.
With their heads firmly screwed on, a passion for food and a flair for business, these two have a bright, sweet future ahead.
Why did you come to London?
I came to London predominantly to travel and to explore the culinary delights of the world. It's so much closer to everywhere than home.
What do you think of London?
I absolutely love it. Bored of London, bored of life they say. There is so much to do all the time. Such an amazing foodie pub culture. There are markets galore and car boot sales from the gods. When I walk to work sometimes I just have a grin on my face thinking about how happy I am with my London life. Cheesy I know, but it's true.
What do you miss about New Zealand?
There is so much I miss about home. 1. Bluff oysters. 2. My friends and family (priorities, aye). 3. The most amazing food in the world. 4. Being able to pop down to my Grandma and Grandpa's place in Kuaotunu (in the Coromandel) for the weekend - hitting the beach for a swim and soaking up that vitamin D and fresh air! 5. Mum paying for my haircuts, dentist and doctor appointments.
• See meringuegirls.co.uk. The Meringue Girls Cookbook is available in all good book stores.