Michelle Born | Vancouver
Vancouver is home to some of the best pastry chefs in the world, many have worked for the top chefs and restaurants around the world as well as around the city. Star Pastry Chefs is a series of Interviews with some of the top chefs in and around Vancouver, within the interview each chef is to prepare or finish off three of his/her signature desserts.
Michelle worked in a craft store, taught workshops on knitting and crochet. She worked at Cobs Bread for 5-1/2 years baking while she had her own cake business on the side. She then worked as the Pastry Chef at Italian Kitchen and IK 2 Go for Glowbal Group. This past year she joined the Fairmont Pacific Rim as their Pastry Chef de Partie.
Did you always want to be a pastry chef?
No, I wanted to be an artist, I studied fine art extensively. Went through art school, painting, etching, sculpting, photography and I turned food into art.
Do you follow or apply a specific food design?
I take a lot of what I learned through the classes, part engineer, part seamstress to do the kinds of things that I do. You really have to think outside of the box. The only limit is your own imagination.
Where do you get inspiration?
A lot from fashion, which dictates the trends. Colours for wedding cakes, what’s hot, and what’s not. Pushing the envelopes to do things that haven’t been done (sugar artists).
How do you start your day?
With a strong cup of coffee, then it’s 1-1/2 hours commute to work. Start the day where I left off the previous day.
How did you end up where you are today designing cake masterpieces?
I started cake decorating when I was 9 years old, my sister had a cake decorating business. Did it as a family home business back in the 80’s. I discovered fondant, kept testing the boundaries, sculpting using cake and fondant like paint. Transposing classic, artistic mediums, food equivalent, transposing the artistic medium. Elevating the skill, perfecting techniques.
The 1st Dessert:
Mini Handbag Cake
What is in the dessert?
Chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream, fondant covered
What was your inspiration behind this dessert?
To create the design, fashion forward and I love handbags.
Is there a pastry chef or more that inspire you?
- Julia Child –true chef that inspired me
- Ron Ben Israel –he does masterful sugar flowers
- Mike McKerry – flawless sculpted cakes
- Norman Davis – certified master sugar artist
- Zane Begg –top 10 cake decorators
Which Pastry Confectionary Tradeshows are your favourite and where are they held?
- Cake Love – held in Vancouver –biannual convention, the next one will be in 2014.
- Ices all over the USA
Show me some of the unique cakes you have made while here at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
How would you describe your style of cakes and desserts at the Fairmont Pacific Rim?
There is no limit, simple to extravagant, all edible. Only the imagination make things look as real as possible. Trompe L’oeitl.
Describe the most elaborate cake you have ever made?
For the most intricate cake I wanted to specify it was the cake love 2012 cake it’s was a collaboration of 5 cake artist that took over 100 hours to complete all the elements and was 4″ x 4″ and 5″ tall and featured various elements of the Vancouver skyline and attractions.
Have you taken part in any pastry or chocolate competitions?
I did the wedding cake competition in the Baking Congress 2009. I want to do more in the future.
What are your favourite chocolate shops in the Vancouver?
What are your favourite cities in Canada for pastries?
What are your favourite savoury dishes to eat?
Love sushi and seafood
How many people are in your pastry kitchen? And tell me about your team.
If you weren’t a pastry chef what do you think you’d be doing?
Stay tuned for the next chef in the Star Pastry Chef series.
By: Richard Wolak