Here is a short interview in which you can read more about Elaine, why she chose to specialize in chocolate, and other career highlights. We are thrilled that she will share more pastry insights and experience with Kul IN pastry students in the upcoming lecture. Can’t wait to get their feedback!
Kul IN: You specialize in chocolate, so what has inspired you to focus on chocolate in your work?
– It is one of the most common food items in pastry but also one of the most challenging to master! That it is one of the most challenging is the reason why I set myself to master it. As a young pastry chef, I was so scared of working with chocolate. I did not understand the medium and it was so temperamental. I hated the feeling of getting nervous, scared and unsure whenever I worked with chocolate so I was really determined to master it. As hard as it was to work with chocolate at that time, this is the ingredient that I love the most to have in desserts too. I am a real chocolate lover to the core. So when the opportunity to work in a chocolate production company came around, I knew it was my chance. I loved every learning moment in my stint there. I eventually mastered the craft to the point I could do it by feel, then I started teaching the skill to my staff and at that point it’s almost like breathing.
Kul IN: You teach, publish your work, do consulting and much more – which of those is your favourite? Why?
– All those three facets of my work revolve around the cycle of learning, making and sharing. Looking back through all these years, that cycle is the hook that kept me going. Each stage provides its unique “high” moments. Every time I develop a new product, discover a more efficient method or effective technology, it sets out a very positive, feel-good “aha!” moment. Then transforming an idea into an actual product is a challenge that when accomplished sets out that I-made-it! feeling. It is a fantastic feeling because not all ideas can be translated successfully, and knowing something does not necessarily mean one can do it. Success is sweeter when shared, seeing others benefit from it or enjoy the outcomes that you have discovered makes things sweeter. Making something useful that people are willing to buy, consume and come back to again and again is how you monetise efforts.
Kul IN: You have achieved many great accomplishments so far, what has been the source of your motivation?
– I started baking at a very young age. In fact this was the only hobby or play I’ve ever remembered myself doing. It’s really a simple cycle of being interested at it, enjoying the process, overcoming a challenge, then feeling good about my accomplishments that kept me going. I have developed my skill through these years that the craft of pastry provided me the opportunity to travel the world, have a comfortable lifestyle and meet and work with amazing people. However there comes a point where what was once only a source of enjoyment became one of the foundations of my life. That pressure has been for me a strong motivator yet one that is challenging to balance. I realised that to keep going one must not forget what got us into this cycle in the first place and why we’re doing this. I realised that it is important to protect that feeling of enjoyment, interest and love for the craft, because that is the fuel to get us through some challenges that may come our way.