Page 31 - Pastry & Baking Magazine

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In your opinion, who’s the most talented competitor to ever
appear on Challenge?
Mm, I would have to say a it’s a bit of a toss up between Bronwen
Weber and Mike McCarey, Richard Ruskell, superb artists all
bring a little something different to the party all have influenced
a significant number of upcoming artists: Apples and oranges
in point of fact.
How did growing up in the Australian Outback prepare you
for a career in cake?
Growing up in the outback in Australia gave me a backbone,
independence, resilience; a sense of determination and the
thought,“It can’t happen!”was never an option and never crossed
my mind.
After early success inAustralia as a beauty queen and fashion
model, you moved to London. What were you looking for?
Australian’s tend to have a traditional ‘call of the wild’ sense
about them; it’s in our DNA, always-curious travelers. Most leave
Australia for a few years abroad usually base in London, gather
extensive experience, return home and put it to good professional
use. I intended to do exactly that but when I planned to return
to Australia after three years tripping about I met my husband
a few short weeks before my home departure date. That changed
the picture, Doug followed me to Australia, a few weeks later
proposed (very romantic) and within a couple of months I was
on my way back to London to be married and start my new life
as an eternal expat, which continues to this very day – good lord,
Forty years abroad it’s hard to believe.”
In the end, you met your husband and were off to the States.
What did your parents and friends back in OZ think of you
marrying an American?
My parents and friends did not have much time to have an
opinion about him one way or the other, our courtship was a
whirlwind; very few of my friends had a chance to meet him, we
were in Australia together barely two weeks, and that was the
same period of time my family had to access him. Hail-fellow
well met, they liked him, but no one really knew him. (Later into
our marriage when they had time to evaluate they respected,
loved and admired him.)
Much like Julia Childs, you gained a reputation in expatriate
circles as a wonderful hostess. Describe your Aha! moment
when you realized “cake”was what you wanted to do?
Yes, it is true I was a popular hostess abroad and later in America,
it was intimidating to some. Every cocktail or dinner party I
hosted I would push myself to improve on the one that came
before it. I remember when I was living in Den Haag, Nederland
(
The Hague, Holland) senior diplomat David Richard from the
Australian Embassy commented that he was proud of my
achievements and that I was a credit to Australia; that made my
day! I think I was born with dessert on my mind and in my
mouth, from the time I was a little kid I was always fascinated
with cake and at eight years old won my first blue ribbon for
fairy cakes at the Royal Agricultural Show in the adult division.
I have been on a roll ever since.
Was there anything that you had a particular trouble with
when you started?
A teacher would have been handy. At the time when my interest
in sugar artistry was materializing there were no teachers in the
United States now they are a dime a dozen, still not accredited,
some are good and some very bad. There were no compulsory
standards in the USA then and still aren’t.When I decided I wanted
to be a cake styling sugar artist and there wasn’t a teacher in sight
I simply taught myself, necessity IS the mother of invention. There
were a few people scattered about using foreign techniques but
butter-cream was the preferred decoration method of choice and
there was real resistance to rolled fondant and gum-paste. No
one wanted to invest time in learning a completely new approach;
they were already comfortable with what they were doing. Teaching
oneself does have an advantage clearly developing personal
creativity and direction, not being another’s clone.
As a cake decorator, you competed around the world amassing
over 100 blue ribbons and numerous championships. Did
you find competing stressful?
I loved competition, rarely was I stressed, I never worried about
the outcome; it was always about using the competitive catalyst
to push myself to be better. I remember the early days when I first
competed in adult advanced, one step up from beginner, and three
levels below masters, my name was called for Best of Show and I
sat in my seat I thought they had made a mistake; suddenly
everyone was yelling “Kerry, Kerry, it IS you!” It was a breathy
moment and an indication to me that I was on my way.
Kerry’s Skills