1. Tell us a little about yourself, family, where do you live and what did you do for a living before making cakes if anything?
I left Hawaii at the age of nineteen in search of a new adventure and a fresh start in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. Not doing any research prior to moving to New England presented many challenges, i.e. “winter.” I quickly accepted a job offer that was less conducive to my prior work environment in the tropics. The job was not to my liking and I found myself with a very slim wallet and bills to pay. I took up a job at a local grocery market as a cashier. Day after day I would see these amazing creations come through my checkout line in the form of cake! One day I decided to venture out to the local book store in search of a new cookbook. In the middle of the aisle laid a gold bound book with a beautiful white wedding cake with colorful flower on it. Wedding cakes by Colette Peters. I feel in love! I began making cakes for my neighbors and friends as simple testers. After about a year’s worth of cake experimenting, I became confident enough to submit a small portfolio of my best work to two well-known pastry shops in the area. I was lucky enough to have received job offers from both!
2. Is there one tool you cannot live without and one you don’t have yet but really want?
The one tool I cannot live without… my Imagination. It is our imagination and the creative process that makes each artist unique in their own special way. I did not have much as a child. The lack of material things was replaced with a creative imagination and a better understanding for how things worked. I LOVE working and sculpting with my hands. Every detail of my work is fine-tuned with my fingertips.
3. I know you have accomplished so much already and with so many competition wins but is there one competition that you really want to win more than any other and why?
I began competing as a way to gain notoriety. After my first competition back in 2012 I received a lot of great criticism from the judges. I took what the judges said and I came back in 2013 with a different goal. A personal goal. To beat the person I was in 2012!
I view competitions as a way to better ones self. How can I beat the person I was yesterday? How will I out do my last piece? How far can I push my creativity? How much discipline do I possess? Can I inspire one more person?
My very last competition will take place at the 2016 NCACS. I will take what I’ve learned as a competitor and share with the rest of the cake community. I would love to compete at the Cake International in Birmingham someday.
5. What part of making cakes do you like most and least?
I live for the entire process. From designing to baking, and decorating. Every piece in unique and tells the story of my clients. I find it humbling and honorable that my clients chose me to help create their celebration centerpiece.
I could do without the delivering process! Possibly the most stressful part of the day. One small turn could prove to be disastrous.
6. Tell us one thing about yourself that many of us might not know already.
I am a minimalist! I prefer to wear the same thing everyday. I purchase ten of the same shirts at a time. LOL. I find that people waist a lot of time figuring out what to wear in the morning. Why waist that time?
7. What is your favorite cake you have done to date?
My favorite cake I have done thus far has got to be the cake I did for the Cake Designers World Championship. It was a labor of love. The board itself took over 70 hours alone! It was made with over 14,000 microscopic modeling chocolate tiles. Techniques that were used included sugar flowers, isomalt, sculpture, molding, painting, airbrushing, marbling with dry dusts, and mosaics. I took me 400 hours to complete and traveled more than 3,000 miles.
8. Do you have a bucket list and if so what might one or two of those be and it does not have to be cake related?
I would love to teach my craft around the world, open a boutique (chain) of pastry shops that specialize in my Hawaiian and European back ground, and eventually own a dog : )
9. What would you say has been your biggest cake challenge to date and if you could have a do-over of it would you want to and what about it would you change?
My biggest cake challenge to date was at the 2015 OSSAS. My wedding cake topper crumbled to pieces while going through the TSA at the Boston Logan airport.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I have gained so much knowledge from going through that experience.
10. Is their one technique or sugar skill that you have not tried yet but really would like to learn?
I like to keep myself well versed in many techniques and mediums. I will continue to learn how to combine multiple mediums and techniques in my pieces. For many artist (including myself), incorporating multiple techniques can be challenging, and to do it in a tasteful and flawless way can be nearly impossible.
11. What is your most favorite ingredient to add into a cake?
Love. It truly is the best ingredient in any recipe. When someone is truly passionate about their career and life, it will show. People will buy into a great tasting product… a beautifully decorated product… and even an inexpensive product, but when something is created with love you can sense it. Can you taste the love at a chain restaurant? Most likely not. A well-made product it produced with LOVE.
12. Do you sketch your cakes or just wing it?
I sketch the basic concept. A skeleton sketch. LOL. On average, I will go through at least thirty different variations.
13. For anyone just starting out what would be one piece of advice you would give them?
Don’t give up! This career can seem punishable after your very first ‘Challenge,’ but stick with it! Learn from your mistakes. Listen to what others have to say. I have been through MANY heart aches. Don’t give up. One last thing. DON"T COMPLAIN! NO BODY likes a complainer : ) Don’t give up.
14. What’s the best lesson you have learned while making cakes so far?
Find another career! Just kidding : ) Say ‘NO’ more often.
Achieving amazing sales is great, but if your work load becomes to challenging your work will suffer. You are an artist. You will become your own brand and reputation. Saying no is not a sign of weakness. I limit my cake orders while managing payroll and overhead expenses. Know your limits and don’t let your customers pay the price.
15. Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
My Amazing Fiancé : ) Always there! It is important to have the backing of your loved ones. Your family should always come first. Don’t make decisions without consulting them first : )
16. Where do you find most of your inspiration from for your designs?
I attribute most of my inspiration from travel. I LOVE color and culture : ) Growing up in the colorful paradise of Hawaii has played an instrumental role in who I am today. Inspiration comes from everywhere and everybody. I am a product of every simple idea that came before me.
17. And one crazy one just for fun…If you there was a time machine and you could go back to another place and time where would you want to go, what era and why?
That’s a tough question!
I would love to go back to the late 1400’s to meet Leonardo da Vinci.
The man of many talents and inventions. It would be an honor to meet a true Master of multi mediums!
Thank you Shags and Bryson for the interview!