By Carly DeFilippo

Fans of the documentary Kings of Pastry are likely well-acquainted with Philippe Rigollot, who heroically was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France despite the demise of his sugar showpiece during the final moments of the competition. Yet what fans may not know is that Philippe’s wife and business partner, Elodie, a chocolatier by background, is an integral part of his work at the couple’s local pastry shop in Annecy, France. The pair first worked together at Maison Pic, the only three-Michelin-star restaurant in France that is owned by a woman. In anticipation of Philippe’s upcoming hands-on advanced pastry course at ICE, Dessert Buffet, we reached out to Elodie to learn more about the couple’s work.

pr pastry

Pastries from Pâtisserie Philippe Rigollot, in Annecy, France, courtesy of

You trained in France — what was your or Philippe’s training like?

Philippe trained in the traditional fashion — a pre-apprenticeship at the age of 15, followed by two years of apprenticeship and a Brevet de Maîtrise or “Master’s Certificate” which took an additional two years. In fact, Philippe won a regional medal for being the youngest apprentice to earn his certificate.

When did you decide you were interested in competitions, in particular the M.O.F.?

Having grown up around Paris, Philippe frequently passed by the windows of Lenôtre, where he dreamed of working one day. After earning his master’s certificate, he was successfully hired at Lenôtre, which also housed a school of professional development for pastry professionals, in which the majority of classes were taught by MOFs. It was through his introductions to the MOF that Philippe first started thinking about competitions, and in particular, his goal to become an MOF himself.

Courtesy of Thuries Gastronomie Magazine

Elodie (second from left) and Philippe Rigollot at their shop, courtesy of Thuries Gastronomie Magazine

What advice would you have for students or working pastry chefs who want to compete?

To be a patissier is a profession based on passion, but also a profession that demands skill and precision. There is a proverb in France that says, “It’s through metal-working that one becomes a blacksmith.” To progress, you have to master the basics, train, familiarize yourself with your materials — in short, work as if every day is a day in the MOF competition.

How do you go about creating new flavors and recipes?

You have to be curious, enter into discussions with others, read…and gradually the ideas come to you. I experiment, I taste and I share those experiments with my spouse, my “right-hand man”.

What have been the biggest lessons you have learned opening your own business?

The most important lesson as a business owner has been that, no matter the level of skill of the person making an individual cake, it is important to ensure that throughout the year, all the cakes are created with the same level of precision and consistency. As for plated desserts, which are more unstructured, that is a different matter from the pre-made desserts sold in the boutique.


Philippe Rigollot, courtesy of

The best surprise has been to interact with our regular clientele — they come into the shop to share with us their friends’ and family’s reaction to our desserts. It’s a heart-warming experience and valuable encouragement to hear that your work is appreciated.

What will you be teaching the participants in your class at ICE? 

At ICE, Philippe will work with students to create a variety of his signature entremet cakes and tarts, macarons and petits gateaux, including recipes from Patisserie Philippe Rigollot.

Speaking of which, what’s next for you at Patisserie Philippe Rigollot?

For us, it’s simply to maintain our quality and consistency.

Space is limited — register today for Philippe’s advanced pastry course at ICE.

By Tina Whelski

In today’s highly visual world, pastry chefs can stand out with unique sugar sculptures.

“I notice that people remember me more for my airbrush than my cake,” says Master Pastry Chef Stéphane Tréand, M.O.F. with a laugh. The recipient of the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France, (M.O.F.), which means “best craftsman in France,” can’t wait to share his techniques with students who attend his Sugar Showpieces workshop this September 23-25 at ICE. Tréand believes that anyone can create their own work of art if they put in the time.

Stephane Treand

photo courtesy of

“Sugar work is not only for chefs, says Tréand. “It’s for everybody. Hopefully I can fill up the class with artistic amateurs.”

Students will learn airbrushing, casting, pulled ribbon, pulled sugar flowers and much more. Tréand advises beginners to use silicon molds, work with isomalt, wear plastic gloves and use lots of stencils when airbrushing. He’s also noticed a trend in the United States to build showpieces that can stand as tall as seven feet high, but he suggests that newcomers start slow with mini showpieces. And as with any craft, attitude is everything.

Stephane Treand“My philosophy is never give up, share and always want to learn,” says Tréand. “You have to be curious. You can always improve the way you’re doing pastry. Believe me, I’m still learning.”

Tréand discovered sugar showpieces in the 1970s when he saw another chef construct a Singer sewing machine made entirely of sugar.

“I was very impressed by how the cast iron was made of sugar,” said Tréand. “I was like, ‘Wow, how can you do that with sugar?’ I remember thinking that if I do something theatrical, like a showpiece, people will remember that, because it’s visual.”

Since most showpieces in the mid-80s were replicas of existing objects, like the Eiffel Tower, Tréand focused on more abstract shapes to distinguish himself.

Today, Tréand finds inspiration for designs everywhere.

“Driving on the freeway sometimes you see a structure and say, ‘Well, that’s a nice bridge’ and of course the background we have in France is of beautiful churches or art from the last few centuries mixed with European art deco,” says Tréand. “There are many things that we mix. Some chefs even find inspiration in tribal tattoos.”

Tréand warns that sugar sculptures should not get “too weird” though.

“People like to recognize what it is,” says Tréand. “You always need to be careful and do something that people can find themselves in.”

He’s practiced his own advice to great success. Tréand was named one of Dessert Professional’s Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, he coached the bronze-winning USA team (which consisted of three of his former assistants) at the International Pastry Competition in Tokyo. Currently, he’s the executive chef consultant for Occitanial, a pastry shop in Tokyo, and he runs his own school in California, Art of Pastry Academy.

The greatest moment of Tréand’s career, however, remains the day he earned his M.O.F., the highest title anyone can get in an artisan manual trade in France.

“That’s my first moment of pride in my whole life,” says Tréand. ”I got it after three tries. My first final was in 1997. I failed. I failed again in 2000 and finally I got it in 2004. When you get it on the third time, it’s even more important because you know the value of it. Finally you’ve got it, and you know you’ve got it forever.”

Tréand finds that his students feel their own sense of pride when they complete their first showpieces.

“When they do something and realize, ‘Oh my goodness, I did that with my fingers and it’s pretty nice,’ they feel proud,” says Tréand. “They feel happy and that’s all we need, just feeling happy.”

Tréand is grateful he discovered the artistic side of pastry because it gives him the chance to do something new every day.

“I think it’s fun,” says Tréand. “It’s freedom. It’s creation.”

Space is limited — click here to register today for Chef Tréand’s Sugar Showpieces workshop at ICE.


By Chef Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies 

Best known as the host of Food Network’s Sweet Dreams, Gale Gand is the author of eight cookbooks, a partner in the Michelin-starred Tru in Chicago, an artisanal root beer maker and so much more. This spring, on May 16, we’re thrilled to invite this multi-talented entrepreneur to teach a “signature desserts” class at ICE, focused on an ingredient we often take for granted: vanilla.

gale gand pastry chef

What will you be covering in the CAPS class at ICE?
This will be a class all about vanilla—its complexities and uses. We’ll cover the four main varieties of vanilla beans, vanilla paste and vanilla extract, as well as how the plant is grown, dried, brought to market and made into extract—and, of course, how to use it in desserts.

Over the course of your career, you’ve worn so many hats successfully—from writing books to opening restaurants and making artisanal root beer. What’s your favorite thing to do?  
That’s like picking which of my kids is my favorite! I love how I managed to cobble together a living from all of those various things. Each day is different, so I have to know how to juggle. I also get to do a lot of philanthropic work through my cooking, raising funds through food for charities. It all inspires me and seems to be part of the bigger picture of being a chef in this century. Flexible, multiskilled—as long as it involves food, I’m there!

What do you think has been the key to your success?
I have a few theories about that, but I have no way to prove it. But I think it’s a combination of the following:

  1. Always answer emails and return all your phone calls.
  2. Always say “thank you.”
  3. Be brave and honest enough with yourself to pick what you love for work.

My musician father always told me to pick a career for love, not for money. And he was right! Beyond that, I think a lot of it is luck and timing.

You previously opened a Michelin-starred restaurant in England. How did that experience differ from working in the U.S.?

It was a restaurant in a country house hotel in England, so it was breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, plus room service and banquets. The 500-year-old estate was originally owned by Lord and Lady Gretton, who owned the Bass Ale Company, so it was kind of like working at Downton Abbey!

Working in England is different from the U.S., including the language, which you would think would be the same. I had to write an American to British dictionary while I was over there to help our team. For example, in the U.K. they still use French terms like mange tout for snow peas and aubergine for eggplant. And the flour and dairy are totally different but great. It was a wonderful and interesting experience, and I returned to the U.S. a much more polite person after three years there.

What words of advice do you have for culinary professionals who are just starting out?
I always give the same advice: always wear comfortable shoes.

Click here to register for Gale Gand’s all-vanilla signature desserts course at ICE.

By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies

Cake designer Karen Portaleo and pastry chef Susan Notter first met in 2011 for the television series Halloween Wars on Food Network. Their inspired cake and sugar work earned them an incredible $50,000 prize, building on both chefs’ already impressive resumes. On October 18-20, we’re thrilled to invite them to reimagine the art of Halloween centerpieces in a Carved Cake and Sugar Showpiece workshop at ICE. We caught up with Chef Notter in advance of the class to learn what inspires her custom sugar work.

Karen Portaleo Cake Susan Notter Sugar

What’s your favorite part of designing a sugar showpiece?
I would say designing the actual piece is the most challenging part, and I enjoy seeing how the sculpture develops from the basic sketch into a 3-D creation. Overall, the greatest challenge is to balance structural stability with the artistic interpretation of a theme.

How did you learn to thrive in competition environments?
Years of experience! After being in many difficult situations in competitions, you learn to think fast. The most important thing is to stay calm and not give up—there is always a way to succeed.

What’s more important: practice or artistic ability?
One can have artistic talent, but without practice, that talent goes nowhere. It’s repetition that solidifies skills and provides chefs with a comfort level in the medium. I believe the same applies to any talent—in sports, music, arts, etc.


How do you recommend students start pursuing sugar work?
Don’t try to build a three-foot sculpture without knowing the basics. The foundational skills are the most important. Once students master pulling and blowing, they can then take those skills and continue to learn. Unfortunately, the trend in sugar education today is simply to get a piece done—to capture the moment for Facebook or Instagram. As a result, ensuring that students have retained core skills becomes secondary. I am against this style of teaching and prioritize students’ skill development over the fleeting accomplishment of completing a full sculpture in class.

What will students be learning in your October CAPS class at ICE?
Students will learn how to prepare, pull, blow and cast sugar. They’ll also practice enhancing cake art with sugar to make exquisite pieces.

Click here to register for Portaleo and Notter’s upcoming workshop at ICE

Watch the Halloween Wars finale to see Susan and Karen in action:

Richard Capizzi Pastry Chef New York

By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies

In 2003, Richard Capizzi became the first pastry chef (not to mention the youngest) to ever sweep the awards at the U.S. Pastry Competition. From there, he honed his skills at the heart of Thomas Keller’s Restaurant Group, rising from a sous chef at Per Se to the executive pastry chef at both Per Se and Bouchon Bakery within a mere two years. Today, as the pastry chef for both Lincoln Ristorante and the Patina Group, Richard is known for translating the flavors of his Italian heritage into some of the country’s most inspired desserts. This summer, ICE students will have the chance to train with Richard in a one-day master class at ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies on July 27.

Why did you decide to become a pastry chef?
Ever since I was about 10 years old I wanted to make cakes. Growing up in an Italian-American house, cooking was a part of daily life. Every weekend, we spent time with family eating and talking about food. Each grandmother was known for making something special or bringing a specific pastry.

I talked to my dad so much about baking that he finally shut me up by taking me into the local bakery and helping me get a job. I started at 16 as a porter and have been working my way up the ladder every day since. I am so lucky that I knew what I wanted to do at such an early age. I believe that if you are born to cook for a living, it’s in your blood. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel like I have the best career—perhaps not the best hours, but still, the most inspiring job.

What period of your career had the greatest influence on your current style?
My time with the Thomas Keller Group (working at The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon Bakery) were the best days of my career in terms of influence. What we all did together—as a team—was unforgettable. Everyone was working for the same goal and achieving it was everything.

Opening the first Bouchon Bakery in Yountville and creating items that were spoken about around the country was pretty cool! Then, opening Per Se and becoming the best of the best—that was it for me. The feeling I had after working 14-hour days was so powerful. You don’t know it until you live it with your “band of brothers.” They were the reason I woke up in the morning. When you realize how much you depend on each other, you’re motivated to get in earlier and earlier, to work faster, just so no one falls behind. We never stopped moving forward; we kept pushing.

Pastry Chef Richard Capizzi of Lincoln - New York, NY

Budino All’Averna e Canoli di Ricotta e Cioccolato: Averna Chocolate Custard, Chocolate Canoli with Sheep’s Milk Ricotta and Mascarpone Crema, and Candied Kumquats. Photo Credit: StarChefs

How do you develop your signature desserts?
I develop most of my desserts by researching traditional items from different regions throughout Europe—primarily Italy. I use pastries that I grew up with or others that I have read about or tasted during travels for inspiration. I also like to use seasonal produce and/or chocolate to create different textures of satisfaction. Generally, I try to incorporate three flavors and five textures in any dessert I do. Once I have the flavor profile, I can build a modern take on any classic dessert.

Tell me a little about your current work.
I have been at Lincoln Ristorante since the opening in 2010, and this year is my fourth with Patina Restaurant Group. My team of six does all the pastries for the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln and weddings at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. We are busy all year long. Even on a slow day in the restaurant, we’re busy in the pastry department. Our philosophy is to be able to work as a team and motivate each person to try harder every day. Mistakes happen, but we learn from them, and if we treat every day as our last, we learn so much more. Nobody in this career will hold your hand. If you want something, you have to screw it up a few times before you get it right.

Click here to register for Richard’s July 27 master class at ICE.

Chef Peter Yuen Laminated Pastry Class


By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, the Center for Advanced Pastry Studies

Chef Peter Yuen is a master of flaky pastry. Combining the best of classic French pastries and Asian baked goods, his bakery LaPatisserie P in Chicago is famous for Chef Yuen’s special lamination method, as well as treats ranging from croissants to pork buns. He has trained under master bakers in both America and Hong Kong, and placed first in the “Viennoiserie” category at the 2008 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. In anticipation of his exclusive two day viennoiserie workshop at ICE on July 12-13, we caught up with Chef Yuen to learn more about his unique pastry philosophy.

As a specialist in laminated dough, do you remember your first experience with flaky pastry?
My first memory of eating flaky pastry was in Hong Kong: a curry beef puff. It was simply delicious—warm, crispy, buttery crust with a hot spicy filling! All those fantastic layers of crispy pastry really got me hooked, and I knew I had to learn how to make laminated dough.

Napoleon flaky pastry

Vanilla Buttercream Napoleon

Is laminated dough used differently by Asian and French chefs?
There are a great many differences between Asian pastries and their European counterparts, primarily in the choice of ingredients. However, there are many similarities in the preferences of textures. In particular, crunchy or fried foods are appreciated by many cultures! I would go so far as to say the Chinese may have been the first to make fried laminated items, hundreds—if not thousands—of years ago.

What keeps you motivated in your career?
There are many things that I love about my job, from the sharing of knowledge to designing great baked goods. I particularly enjoy creating better techniques to accomplish certain processes. It is also a joy to travel frequently, mainly because I never took advantage of travel when I was younger. Everything seems so new to me that I almost feel like a “kid in a candy store.”

I like interacting with students and consulting clients because, in communicating with them, you can learn so much about yourself as well. I approach consulting as a form of teaching, though there is added pressure to perform. The only part that is a turn off for me is that the measurement of success is often in dollars and cents. But regardless of the task, a day rarely passes that I don’t learn something new. That is what keeps me motivated.

What words of advice would you have pastry chefs that are just starting their careers?
I always tell students that there are 5 levels of knowing:

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know
  2. You know what you don’t know
  3. You know what you know
  4. You forgot that you know
  5. You pretend that you don’t know anything so that you can stay curious and keep learning what you don’t know

Don’t get stuck at level number 3!  When you think you know it all, that is when you make the most mistakes. So be humble. As for other words of advice: only “perfect” practice makes perfect, and it takes a great amount of time and patience to reach a respectable level of competence.

Peter Yuen pastry flaky pastry

Brioche with truffles

What will you be covering in your CAPS class?
I will be sharing my knowledge of laminated dough with students—from theory to techniques and terminologies. Additionally, to highlight the unique approach that Asian chefs bring to savory flavors, I will select some of my all-time favorite items to showcase in the class.

Click here to register for our upcoming two-day workshop with Chef Yuen on July 12-13.


By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Director, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies

anil rohira - caps - interview - pastry chefWorld-renowned pastry chef Anil Rohira has earned some of the industry’s most prestigious titles, from Pastry Chef of the Year to the winner of “Best Sugar Showpiece” at the Coupe de Monde in Lyon. Today, his grounded perspective and dedication to the craft has earned him a position as the Corporate Chef at Felchlin Switzerland, a world leader in premium chocolate production. This spring, we’re thrilled to be hosting a three-day seminar featuring Chef Rohira’s finest techniques.

What inspired you to become a pastry chef? Did your time at culinary school alter your initial feelings on this career path at all?
I always felt inclined to join the hospitality industry. I was doing my hotel management program back in India (during which we were sent to work in hotels for real world experience) when I first felt an interest in pastry.

On my first day at this hotel job, I remember that the Chef asked me if I could work in the pastry shop as they were busy with Christmas preparation. I agreed and the minute I pushed open the kitchen door, that was the defining moment. Time kind of stood still. I saw chefs finishing cakes and eclairs, people working with chocolate. I knew instantly: this is my world; this is where I belong. Since then there was no looking back.

You’ve competed in and even judged several showpiece competitions. Why did you decide to take your career down the path of such stressful contests?
Quite simply, competitions played an important role in my career. It would not have been the same had I not competed. Professionally, the growth opportunity is amazing. You strive hard to put out your best work. In the process, you develop or enhance technical skills, work on your timing and learn to be cleaner and more organized. My first competition was a local American Culinary Federation (ACF) event. I was nervous, of course, but ultimately I was happy with what I had pushed myself to achieve. I immediately knew I could do better and started working on getting ready for the next competition. Before I knew it, I was a proud member of the American national team for the Coupe du Monde.

Competitions have also helped me grow on a personal level. Under these challenging conditions, you realize your limits: physically, emotionally and in terms of temperament as well. The more you compete, the more these personal limitations will be in check. You learn to cope with pressure better. You also realize the contributions others make during this process, whether it’s the support of your family, your team and staff at work or the company you work for. It’s a beautiful journey, and I would recommend you take it.

Anil Rohira - Macaron - Cake - Interview

Was there ever a situation where you were making a showpiece, and your work was altered drastically or ultimately ruined? If so, what happened and how did you deal with it?
Fortunately, I have not had a showpiece entirely ruined. However, there were times when things did not go as planned or when I’ve had to make adjustments. One time I remember quite clearly was in 2001, when I was trying out for the selection for the US Coupe du Monde team. It was an intense competition: each person had to prepare entremets, plated desserts, entremets glacés and a showpiece (involving sugar, chocolate and pastillage). I had my structural piece standing to the side while I worked on other components when suddenly, it crashed and came down. There was sugar everywhere on the floor. I will never forget that sound. Luckily, I had enough time to recast the structure and get back on track. I managed to finish the program on time and won the competition. Those are the moments where you realize why it’s so important to practice your routine time and time again. You cannot overdo it.

You’ve remarked that you believe in the “heart, head and hand”—would you mind elaborating on what this means to you as a pastry chef?
Well, that is my philosophy about our craft, trade and a career in baking and pastry. The first thing that you must have is “heart,” meaning a strong interest, passion and love for the craft. If you do not, you won’t go very far. The industry is too demanding for you not to be committed to it.

Second is that this is as much an intellectual and creative process as it is physical. Just going through the motions of making pastry is not enough. You must be open in your way of thinking about what and why you do things. Making desserts is just the last step in the process. The intellectual creation of a plan for your dessert—flavor, texture and appearance—is the most important part. This effort, in addition to constantly reading or taking classes to upgrade your knowledge, forms your “head,” which comes before the “hand,” meaning your technical skill.

In 2009 you were awarded Pastry Chef of the Year at the World Pastry Team Championship, an incredibly impressive feat. Would you consider that your most prized professional accomplishment or have there been others that meant more to you?
I have been very fortunate to have some amazing experiences. Pastry Chef of the Year among them, however, carrying the US flag at the 2003 Coupe de Monde was certainly right up there.

anil rohira - caps - ice - pastry class - pastry chef - interview

Currently you are the Corporate Pastry Chef at Felchlin Switzerland, which means participating in many seminars and demonstrations. Out of all your knowledge, what skills do like sharing the most?
I have a great job with Felchlin, which gives me the opportunity to travel around the world and interact with chefs, cooks, trainees, students, instructors, enthusiasts, media and others. The process of these various interactions gives me a chance to continue learning and to share the knowledge I have gathered over the years. It is the best feeling. Right now I’m specifically enjoying teaching the intricacies of couverture and its applications. In general, I believe in “knowledge parted is knowledge gained.” If you can teach it, you know it.

On April 21-23 you will be teaching a three-session CAPS class at ICE. What will you teach and who do you think it will appeal to most?
I look forward to coming to NYC and teaching at ICE. This is a class for professionals, and it will focus on the science of ganaches and pralines, as well as processes for petits gateaux and entremets—the students and I will discuss, create and analyze each step in the process. The material will cover the selection of ingredients, how to combine flavors and the presentation of various textures, as well as developing a plan for the plating and appearance of each dessert. Finally, we will create an amenity showpiece, in an effort to cover the principles and logic of creating showpieces for competition.

Click here to register for Chef Rohira’s class and to see the full CAPS line-up for 2015.

Interview - Sam Mason - Oddfellows - Ice Cream Classes - Pastry Classes - NYC


By Chef Kathryn Gordon—Co-Director, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies

Summer will be here before you know it, and we’re thrilled to be hosting an innovative ice cream workshop featuring the madcap creations of OddFellows’ Chef Sam Mason on Sunday, April 19th.

What have you been up to since your last CAPS class?
The slower winter months, business-wise, seem to inspire a creative spark. We tend to do a lot of research and development in the cold months—for example, we’ve been working on cocktail popsicles with up to 40% alcohol. We’re also always finding new ways of using liquid nitrogen to help make our kitchen more efficient, whether for “chopping” nuts or adding one ice cream flavor to another.

How challenging is it to operate multiple locations?
Our Williamsburg location is our production space, so the only issue that comes with multiple spaces is transportation. Everything else is just the standard growing pains of volume and production.

Sam Mason - Oddfellows - Ice Cream - Classes - NYC - CAPS - Center for Advanced Pastry Studies


Do you prefer being an entrepreneur to working in restaurants?
The restaurant thing is amazing, but, as you can discover, it’s a huge daily commitment with little respite. It can also be rather unforgiving. Entrepreneurship has a bit more flexibility.

Ice Cream - Entrepreneur - Sam Mason - Interview - Odd Fellows

What will be the focus of your April 19th CAPS class?
My goal for the class is to have each student walk away with a newfound excitement for ice cream and its endless possibilities.

Click here to register for Chef Mason’s April 19th class and to see the full schedule of 2015 CAPS classes.


Interview by Chef Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies (CAPS)

Interview with Stevi Auble - HeadshotJust like many of our professional Pastry & Baking Arts students, cake designer Stevi Auble didn’t always dream of constructing trendsetting cakes. Yet this career changer’s shift from interior design to edible design has cemented her as an icon in the field of custom luxury cakes.

Formerly, you were an interior designer. What inspired you to shift your focus to cakes?
It was something that evolved a few years ago. I started making cupcakes for my youngest daughter’s preschool and the director really started to push me to sell them because they were so well received. Eventually that word of mouth turned into inquiries from all over, and it put me in a position where I had to decide whether or not I wanted to create a legitimate business. Ultimately, I decided go to forgo the interior design industry and become my own boss. Initially, the concept for Hey There, Cupcake! was a small designer cupcake company, but soon that transitioned into full-sized cakes (including wedding cakes). My design background plays a huge part in my cake decorating style, translating basic design principles into the construction of each cake. In particular, I have always loved textiles and prints; an influence you can see in the majority of my cakes.

How did you develop your signature specialties for your cakes?
I have always done my best to stick to what I like personally and really stay away from “trends.” I always draw my inspiration from the design and art worlds, rather than looking at other cakes. This may lead to unconventional cake designs, but they are something that I am proud to have my name on regardless of how they are received by the public.

What do you think is the root of your success?
I would say that my success stems from a combination of perseverance and being confident in my design choices. I have found this business—as with any other—to be very challenging. It takes a lot of perseverance to move forward through it all. A big piece of that is knowing who you are and sticking to it. I believe that any of the success I have had in this business is because I have always created what feels right to me. I never ask myself, “Will other people like this?” I think that’s a creativity killer.

Interview with Stevi Auble - Wafer Paper Flower Cakes

What advice would you give to pastry professionals interested in entering the cake field?  
I think it’s important for them to know that it isn’t easy, not in the least. There are so many facets to this particular field, as the majority of designers are also small business owners. Not only do you need to be extremely consistent and reliable as a baker and decorator, but you also have to have extensive knowledge of how to run a business.

What is one “cake disaster” that you would share with students as a lesson?
My biggest disaster was actually just this past summer. During a delivery, my assistant was cut off by another car, and the cake she was transporting fell over, significantly damaging the top tier. I happened to be out of the country teaching, and it was the middle of the night in Germany. She didn’t feel she could call me for advice on how to rectify the situation, so she fixed the cake as best she could and the florist was able to add some flowers to hide some of the damage. However, the cake was not what it was supposed to be. Luckily the couple was extremely kind and understanding, but I learned a valuable lesson—to make sure, first and foremost, that my staff knows that they can contact me at any time. It’s also important to remember that sometimes life just happens and all you can do is your best. It’s the way that you react to situations that really matters.

Can you tell me more about the “Wafer Paper Flowers” class you’ll be teaching on Feb 9-10 at ICE?
I will be teaching the students how to create three different kinds of wafer paper flowers—my favorite technique. I love the visual lightness that wafer paper offers. For me, it’s the perfect balance of a lovely visual effect in edible form. We’ll also cover a fun paint technique to enhance their overall design.

Click here to register for Stevi’s class and to see the full 2015 schedule of advanced pastry classes at ICE.

By Carly DeFilippo

While many of us grow up with parents, siblings or friends who dabble in cakes and other pastries, how many of us have ever seen chocolate bars, bon bons or gummy candies in the making? Candy historian and artisan Beth Kimmerle is not only one of the most talented confectioners in the contemporary candy game, but she’s also one of the industry’s most knowledgeable consultants. In anticipation of her upcoming workshop (Sept 17-18) at ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies, we caught up with Beth to discuss her passion and unusual career path.

candy-jewelry-woman-300What inspired your interest in candy?
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, which was—and still is—a real candy and chocolate mecca. I also lived briefly in L.A., where I became very aware of See’s Candy (a major candy manufacturer, founded in the 1920s). My career in confections began in product development, buying and marketing for a large candy company called Fannie May Candies. With 250 stores, they were the largest candy retailer in the U.S. and their candy making factory was located next to my office. We manufactured classic American candies: caramels, nougat, buttercreams, marshmallow and hard candy. It was there that I learned how to make candy from some of the best in the business.


A collection Beth curated from the Sweets & Snack Show

How did you start learning about candy history?
Back then, candy was sort of a step-sister to baking or chocolate work and not many culinary programs offered lessons in candy making. As I studied and collected vintage recipe books, I became intrigued by the history of confections. Today, I consider myself a confectionery historian, as well as a futurist. I study the past to understand the present. I understand the present to inform the future. And I continually work toward being a confectionery culinarist by honing my culinary and science knowledge.And you also share that knowledge with others, as a consultant.

Yes,in addition to being an author, I spend much of my time as a marketing consultant for companies. That often means developing a recipe or formula for a product, but I also work on branding and marketing plans around chocolate and candy products. I just got back from a packaging show and research trip in Italy and I’m preparing for a 2-week professional course in the science of candy making.

Moreover, I am trained in sensory evaluation and am currently developing a program that will help non-food people understand the science behind taste. In addition, I am working on a candy-themed exhibit that will be featured at the California State Fair. I really enjoy travel, as it allows me to explore factories and sweets from other cultures. In fact, I still feel like Charlie Bucket when I get an invitation to go into a candy or chocolate factory.


Shane’s Confectionery, Philadelphia

What do you see as the greatest candy-related challenges to the industry?
Commercial sweets are continually challenged, most recently with consumers reviewing labels and becoming adverse to chemical sweeteners and sugar. However, that has opened up a world of opportunity for artisanal candies and has the “candy cousin” category of nutritional bars exploding.

It’s amazing to see what has happened to chocolate recently. We seem to hear about a new bean-to-bar or boutique chocolate company every day. Now, more regions than ever are growing great cacao and more consumers are demanding better product and origin information. As a result—much like the recent revolutions in wine and coffee—the entire system of chocolate production and distribution is changing. Sweets are always exciting!

Click here to sign up for Beth’s class and learn more about advanced pastry studies at ICE!


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