Friday, June 3, 2011

Incredible Baker's Dozen! Food Network Personality - Kerry Vincent!

Hello Cake Boys & Girls!

If you are a faithful reader of the blog, you are well familiar with the Baker's Dozen feature.  You all loved my last interview with Ashley Vicos.  I do also check my comments section to see what you have to say as well.  Imagine my surprise when I had a comment posted by the one and only - Kerry Vincent!  Kerry was teasing me and asking if she was not one of my "cake crushes".  I have Kerry as a friend on Facebook, but had never really had a conversation with her on there - I mean come on - it's KERRY VINCENT!  Anywho, I messaged her to see if it really was her or just one of my cake friends pulling my leg.  Low and behold, it was Kerry.

 I took it upon myself to muster the courage and ask her to participate in a baker's dozen.  You have requested her and until then, honestly I was a bit intimidated to approach her.  She said yes!  Instead of my usual e-mail format, Kerry requested we do the interview over the phone - ummmmm, OK!  LOL.  I spent almost an hour and a half with Kerry on the phone and we had an amazing conversation.  I am now happy to share the result with you:

Morsels By Mark: Hi Kerry! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I know my readers will appreciate it! I guess the first thing everyone wants to know is, how did you get your start in the world of cake?

Kerry Vincent: It’s my pleasure thanks for the invite.

I travelled with my husband while he worked abroad and during and before my marriage I have lived in 9 countries. The travelling expat life led into cake!

I got started in the world of cake quite by accident! During this time I took classes wherever I was living to fill in time while my husband was travelling elsewhere. I've studied at the Cordon Bleu, taken classes in Holland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico and the US. I took pastry classes, savoury, whatever was available it didn't matter! I would cater my own parties, but the desserts were my favourite and I became very well known for my spectacular dinner finales’ as I liked to call them, especially in diplomatic circles.

When I finally ended up in the US, a friend in an emergency had asked me to take over some of the catering at her son's wedding, so I offered to do the cake. I was familiar with rolled fondant but knew nothing about using it. I thought that would be the expected medium so was relieved to discover that my friend only wanted buttercream.

I knew I could bake a great cake and was a competent patisserie decorator but the rest was a foreign language. Immediately I started asking questions then took a five-minute crash course making buttercream roses at a local cake supply shop; the shop was empty so I just leant over the counter chatting with the owner as she demonstrated how to make a buttercream rose before I bought the equipment. I practiced a bit and told my friend that I felt I could do it. I baked everything from scratch and really thought this was a onetime deal. I did not count on being bombarded with requests from bridesmaids, one in particular kept asking, so I said OK for this one time, but then came more bridesmaids and the business grew from there – I bought books and taught myself. I took commission orders and baked in rented kitchens. It was a natural gift. But who knew? It was not the plan. I closed the business in 2001 and moved onto Challenge, which I love!

MBM: How did the OSSAS get started?

KV: The OSSAS started the superstardom of cake. In 1993, the first competition was the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show (OSSAS) Maxine Boyington and I were cofounders, started the event as a place for artists to come together. Later Maxine left to compete instead of organize. The Grand National Wedding Cake Competition, which I founded, was born in 1996 and it has exploded from there.

MBM: How did your partnership with Food Network (FN) come about?

KV: In 2002, FN did a special on the OSSAS. At the time they were looking for judges for a new show. Apparently they liked what they saw on camera and they contacted me asking if I would like to judge, and the rest is history.

MBM: How has Challenge evolved over the years?

KV: Over the years we have travelled less for Challenge, in the beginning it was city after city, but now we have a massive new studio with state of the art equipment. It has been an amazing transition, and as long as the ratings are there, may there be Challenge! It is tougher now and more formal than in the beginning. We started with catering tables and pipe and drape and now the stage is completely custom made.

MBM: Do you think cake TV is beneficial four our industry?

KV: Cake TV is fabulous for the industry. It has set a sleepy giant on fire! Cake decorators are having the time of their lives in this new atmosphere. Everyone wants to be a star. Contestants should not squander these magnificent opportunities! Challenge should be used to forward professional careers – it is free publicity!

MBM: People tend to think Challenge is scripted and you are told what to say. Is that true?

KV: Challenge is definitely not scripted. Anyone who knows me understands I ONLY say what I think. Winners are not pre-selected. I would NEVER join a show that did this. Each judge has their own score sheet, which they fill out separately from one another.

MBM: Why do you think Challenge has outlasted Ultimate Cake Off (UCO)?

KV: UCO was not successful, because it was a Challenge knock-off. Plain and simple!

MBM: The editors on Challenge tend to paint you as the “bad cop”. This is not your true character, right?

KV: I am definitely NOT mean, nasty or cruel. When I am making my comments, I am talking ONLY about the cake, and cake does not have feelings! What is not known is that I actually go around before filming starts and visit with the competitors to talk with them and let them get to know me and when it is over I visit with them all winner and losers to help them decompress.

MBM: It is great that we have started seeing Canadians on Challenge now. How did that happen?

KV: I am actually an advocate for Canada – there are many talented artists there and I helped get Canadians on, starting with Alexandria Pellegrino from Cake Opera Co. Mentoring and promoting the art is my mission in life. There are many talented artists in Australia and the UK as well; it is just a matter of distance and expense in getting them here.

MBM: What is your take on “borrowing” inspiration?

KV: Give credit where credit is due! This is true for techniques, design ideas and so on. For example I invented inlay in 1986, it is known as Vincent Marquetry. And I certainly don't mind if people use or show the technique, in fact I encourage it, but they should give the background and not claim it as their own!

MBM: The cake industry has come a long way over the years. Do you think the old school buttercream decorating will make a re-appearance, or is fondant here to stay?

KV: Everything old is new again! Buttercream hasn’t gone anywhere; there is enough room for both. Take Groom's cakes for example – they originated in Victorian England, and they are making their way into the mainstream again and have always been part of the deep south USA.

MBM: We still haven't seen Last Cake Standing in Canada yet, but I've heard it's different. How so?

KV: The first season of LCS was part of Challenge. This time around, it is own entity and has upped the ante - $100 000! Lots of twists and turns.

[MBM - I have seen LCS and it is a great season!]

MBM: What advice do you have for artists that would like to compete on Challenge?

KV: Know what you are doing, understand the fundamentals of your craft; be good at cake. Basic classes are NOT enough for one to be a competitor! Know and be honest about your strengths! Wait until the time is right and the skill sets are there!

There you have it - a better glimpse into who Kerry Vincent is!  If you would like to learn even more about Kerry, please visit: or scroll down and click on the cake story once there. Here's the direct link to the video: check out the May 21 episode where Kerry was featured on the Discovery Oklahoma 20th Anniversary show!

More interviews are in the works - keep letting me know who you want to see on here!

Until Next Time
Happy Caking!