27 November 2014

HUGE changes for Sugar Push

Since returning from my whirlwind overseas adventure, things have been quiet around here.

Very quiet.

Of course behind the scenes I've been running around like a chook with its head cut off! It has been nearly 2 months since I landed back in Australia and I have barely stopped.

Airports are my second home. Flights are the only time I get a break!

Priority #1 has been looking for the best opportunity for progressing my career. I originally began searching for something local - patisseries, cake stores, chocolate stores. Alas, there aren't a huge amount of opportunities available in little old Adelaide.

I began contemplating the option of attempting to operate Sugar Push full time, but decided it wasn't financially viable at this point in time. This brought me to my final conclusion: when all else fails, take a risk on your dream job.

I have been following & admiring SWEETNESS The Patisserie for the majority of this year, and regarded it as a workplace I would love to be part of in the future once I had more experience with confectionery.

An introduction on LinkedIn later, I was discussing with founder Gena Karpf the possibility of making my dream a reality far sooner than expected. A Skype meeting & 3 day work trial (in Sydney) later, it's official: I have been offered and accepted a full time Chef position with SWEETNESS The Patisserie.

So what does this mean for myself & Sugar Push?

1. I am moving interstate to Sydney this weekend.
2. Sugar Push will no longer be operated as a business. No products will be sold.
3. Sugar Push will however, continue in the form of this blog.

I am still not 100% sure on what exact direction this blog will take, however it will be mostly cake related. Cake decorating will still be my hobby and I plan to keep it up and share my creations with you all via this platform. The blog will not relate to my work at SWEETNESS, or any confectionery that the Patisserie produces.

I am so very excited to continue sharing with you all where my career, and this blog, is heading!


15 November 2014

Dreams can change without you realising

Good grief, it's been a while since I updated this blog. This website has closely followed my adventures as I chased my dreams to Toronto to help myself become the best cake decorator I could be, but recently things have changed a little.

During my 4 month course whenever a teacher would ask us what our dream job was, I replied with cake decorator without hesitation every time. There was nothing else on my radar, I had found my passion.

And then I came home.

I'd imagined that I would jump straight back into cakes, throw myself into building a business plan and organising my life so that I could sustain my dream & get along financially. However, I found myself being hesitant and unsure. I made excuses as to why I couldn't make cakes for people... My insurance had expired, I wasn't sure if I'd missed the annual council inspection of my kitchen, I hadn't worked out a pricing structure yet. The list went on.

I made one cake and while I still definitely enjoyed it, I didn't feel the same passion I had before. Talk about a shock to my system!

A week later I woke up craving toffee. I found myself back in the kitchen with my candy thermometer, attempting to temper chocolate without a marble slab (fail!), cooking toffee on the stove and... I felt what I'd been missing in my last cake.

"Buttercrunch" Toffee, chocolate & macadamia nuts

Suddenly I was no longer reading cake blogs learning about new decorating techniques, I was reading up on the science of sugar, I wasn't browsing my large library of cake decorating books but pulling out my Adriano Zumbo book I'd never even read before. Instead of looking in kitchen stores for new decorating tools, I was searching everywhere for a marble pastry slab.

Instead of baking cakes, I've been whipping up toffees & marshmallows, and practising my macaron skills.

Not perfect yet, but getting closer!

Of course, having a new dream does not mean you have to forget the old ones. I will never give up cakes entirely as I still love them dearly. I guess it's just time to branch out a bit more and look at new opportunities that I hadn't considered before I graduated from Bonnie Gordon College.

A friend recently said to me "same river, different stream" and I feel like that's pretty accurate.

I am very excited about the future, finding my next adventure, and being able to share it with you!


PS. We also recently passed the 2000 'likes' milestone on Facebook and I am just so grateful for everyone who has stuck by me and supported me during my journey so far! Thank you!

5 October 2014

Finally a qualified... Pastry Chef? Confectionary Artist?

It's official!

Graduation at Bonnie Gordon College - with Bonnie herself!

If you follow me on either Facebook or Instagram, you would have seen by now that I have landed back on Australian soil and am slowly recovering from a severe case of jet lag.

What I haven't mentioned so far, is that on my very last day in California my Diploma arrived in the mail. Talk about lucky!

After four stressful months of hard work I am so proud and happy to say that not only did I pass my Diploma of Confectionary Art, but I graduated with honours as well! Yippeeeeeeeeeeee!

My Diploma of Confectionary Arts - with honours!

This special piece of paper is now hanging proudly on my wall!

Of course, now that I am home I must make some big decisions about what's next on my agenda, and which direction I will take Sugar Push in. I will not be taking any cake orders while I figure out what's next, and keep an eye out for any suitable opportunities!

If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I'd love to hear them!




18 September 2014

Northern California Seaside Adventures

Did you know that I'm back in California?

If you didn't... well, I am! The day after I finished up at Bonnie Gordon College I hopped on a plane and flew straight back to Northern California.  I've been soaking up the blue skies and warm weather, and just unwinding after a very full on and stressful four months of study. 

The good thing about being back here is the time to relax. The bad thing? Minimal internet access again! It's really not good for maintaining regular blog posts - gosh darn it!

I've been here for 2 weeks now, and while I admit I've spent a lot of it reading books and obsessively playing Roller Coaster Tycoon, I have been on a few small adventures.

A week and a half ago we spent a weekend doing 'beachy' things. I'm definitely not your typical 'Aussie Beach Bum', but I must admit I have been missing the beach during my time away from home. Once upon a time back in my Tumblr blogging days, I'd seen a post about a place called "Glass Beach" where instead of sand, the beach was covered in smooth glass pebbles. I wanted to see it desperately! 

I have someone who follows me around and takes photos when I'm not looking - true story!

We packed some snacks and headed North in an old pick up truck, with me bouncing excitedly in my seat. Four hours later the excitement had lessened slightly... I didn't realise it was such a long drive!

The drive itself was beautiful though, with so many trees giving us a much needed break from the heat of the sun. 

Eventually we made it and... well, I guess I was a little disappointed. It was nice, and there was some glass... but I think my imagination had built it up to be something it really wasn't. Oh well - we still had loads of fun climbing rocks!

The glass pebbles at Glass Beach - much smaller than expected!

On Sunday to continue with our 'beach vibes', we took a much shorter drive to Half Moon Bay. What a cute little tourist town!

On the way back we stopped to take in the sights, and get some fish & chips for lunch! As always, the wind around these parts makes it a bit chilly but thankfully the California sun was shining down on us kindly! 

Fish & Chips at Half Moon Bay
My beach cravings haven't quite been solved, but this will get me by until I get home in October and can go walking on the beach every day if I want to! Although, I'll probably not want to the second that I have the ability to. You know how it is... you always want what you can't have! 



12 September 2014

Toronto Tourist Travels - A recap!

I've been out of Toronto for over a fortnight now. Do I miss it? Absolutely.  

It's definitely difficult to leave a place when you've just grown accustomed to it. The strange unpredictable weather. The amazing public transport. The college. The friends. 

I think it is definitely a city that will hold a place in my heart. I don't think I'd be able to live there permanently (I never even experienced winter!), but what I did experience was incredible.


During the last few weeks of my Diploma Programme at Bonnie Gordon College, I realised that I'd been so busy studying that I'd hardly seen the usual "tourist spots" of the city. I quickly purchased a "CityPASS" and off I went, adventuring around the city on buses, subways and street cars to reach each destination. 

The first stop on my list was the zoo. I ventured to the Toronto Zoo on a Monday public holiday and spent most of the day there. It was definitely my favourite of all the sights, and I couldn't wait to see a Polar Bear! Unfortunately, neither could anyone else so I wasn't able to get any photos. 

Unsurprisingly, the flamingos were one of my favourites. There were just so many of them! 

Flamingos at the Toronto Zoo
I had a lot of fun that day, even though it took me two buses, the subway & almost 2 hours to travel each way!

The following weekend I came down rather ill, but I pushed through to visit the CN Tower and Casa Loma!

The base of the CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

The CN Tower was very busy, despite my getting there rather early in the morning! I think this must have been a 'slow' time however, since the trip to the top was a rather quick process. The amount of security before going to the top was slightly alarming, although I suppose when I thought about it, I probably felt safer having it there. I guess this 'small town gal' isn't used to such heavy security as what they have in North America. 

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada
The trip back down to the bottom of the tower was surprisingly the part that took the longest! It was an attraction that I rather enjoyed, but not one you can spend a lot of time at.

Casa Loma on the other hand - you could spend hours there! I wish I hadn't been so ill so that I could have spent more time exploring through this old castle, and then through the beautiful gardens.

At Casa Loma, Toronto, Canada

My favourite part was definitely the stunning grounds, which I wish I'd had more time to explore. Coming in a close second however, was the underground tunnel. Dark, creepy, and so full of history!

Underground Tunnel at Casa Loma, Toronto, Canada

With only 2 locations left on my "CityPASS", my next point of interest was the Royal Ontario Museum, or 'ROM' as it's called by the locals. I rushed down there after college and spent a couple of hours in the museum before it closed for the evening.

This is another tourist attraction that I wish I'd had more time to spend at. I admit I was surprised by the high entry fee, having been used to the museum back home in Adelaide being free, but when I discovered the size of the museum it made a bit more sense.

At the Royal Ontario Museum

There was actually so many exhibits, with so much to learn, that I could really only skim the surface of it all. If I'd had the time, I would have loved to return and spend a whole day there.

My favourite part though? Definitely the dinosaurs!

Rawr! T-Rex at the Royal Ontario Museum

The last tourist attraction on my "CityPASS" was the Ontario Science Centre. I'm sure it is probably a great place to see but I felt like science centres are the sort of thing you need to do with friends. Interacting with displays alone? Probably not so much fun...

I gave it a miss and called it a day for my Toronto tourist adventures!


3 September 2014

Week 16: Final Exams & Soda Shop Dessert Table at Bonnie Gordon College

FINALS!!!! AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

First term exams were scary.
Mid term exams were terrifying.
Finals are a whole different thing altogether! *flails outrageously*

The final week at Bonnie Gordon College came and went so very quickly. Surprisingly, for most part I stayed quite calm. I think it was the fact that I knew in a few days I'd be relaxing in the California sun - there's just something about the lure of blue skies and In-N-Out burger that calms me like nothing else!

Our final exam was once again split into a practical, a theory exam, and theory assignment. Our practical was to present a dessert (or sweets... to-mah-to, to-may-to) table of any theme we chose - yippee!

Our only stipulations were in what we had to present. The centrepiece was to be a two tier celebration cake. We also had to present 12 eclairs, 12 marshmallows, 12 frangipane tarts, and 12 sugar cookies. Strangely, we'd never made sugar cookies during our course (or decorated them for that matter), so that was something brand new!

I really struggled for inspiration on this one - I think my brain was already switching to 'heading home' mode. My homesickness levels were reaching new highs and all I could think about was holidays, and then going home. Eventually I settled on a theme that I knew would be a little tricky to source props for, but one that was very "me".

Without further ado... here is my "Soda Shop" themed dessert table!

Full view of the Soda Shop Dessert Table


Ice Cream Cone Sugar Cookies and "Milkshake" Eclairs

"Milkshake" Eclairs - Vanilla Pastry Cream filling dipped in Chocolate Ganache

Mini Frangipane Tarts with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Swirl

Ice Cream Cone Sugar Cookies

 


I actually ended up having so much fun with this exam! Some of my classmates joked that it looked like my "personality threw up on the table". Of course, these same classmates called me a unicorn on a regular basis, so I'm unsure of the legitimacy of these comments.

My only "freak out" happened when it came time to decorate the sugar cookies. Having never made this recipe before, I had no idea that the type of dough we were using would not expand, but shrink in the oven. Shrink?! I've never had sugar cookies do that before! My plan of simply using the same cookie cutter to cut out some fondant to decorate the top was ruined and I had to frantically cut out the fondant by hand - needless to say, they're far from perfect and nothing how I intended them to look.

Still, I'm pretty proud of how the table turned out as a whole!


31 August 2014

Week 15: Wedding Cake Week at Bonnie Gordon College

To say I was excited about Wedding Cake week would be an understatement. I had been looking forward to this week since before I started my four month Diploma Programme!

If you haven't picked up on it by now, I'll lay it out for you: cake decorating is my favourite thing EVER! Sure, baking has it's place, but cake decorating will always have a very tight grip on my heart.

So a whole 5 days of no baking, just decorating? Heaven!

Our wedding cake was an unmarked assignment, but we were given a fake client and a brief of what they wanted. After getting a "male garden and landscape designer" client during my first term exam, I was really hoping for something a bit more girly and I was not disappointed!

My clients were having a "small" 70 person wedding at the National Ballet, and their guests would be sitting through a performance of Romeo & Juliet. They were having a dessert table, and wanted their wedding cake to match their colour scheme of blush pink, peach, mint green and sea foam blue. The only design stipulation was that they wanted it to feel "romantic".

If you've seen any of my work, you would have noticed that my designs tend to be more on the clean cut, simple side of cake decorating. I guess I'm just not generally a "fussy" person, and although this theme could have been taken in a direction full of ruffles, bows, and a garden of flowers, I really wanted to keep in my own style.




Watercolour painted cakes are a current trend that I am absolutely loving in the industry at the moment. I'm big on pastel colours, and the beautiful ombre effects that you can get with the watercolour painting just make me so happy. When I found out I would be working with pastel colours, I knew I wanted to start painting. I'd never done it before, and neither had any of the teachers in the school at the time, so I just made it up as I went along! Luckily it worked out!

I love cakes that have small, unexpected details that you may not even notice until you really look at them up close. The tiny piped hearts were that for me; simple, delicate and oh so cute.


Flowers also came into play with some peach roses, a pink feature fantasy flower with gold and pearl centre button, sea foam blue berries and mint coloured leaves. Gum paste flowers are definitely a new skill I've learnt at Bonnie Gordon College that I'm really enjoying and looking forward to expanding on.



The full cake. Photos just don't really do it justice - or maybe it's just my photography that doesn't! The colours just seemed to pop more in real life while being softer at the same time, and the details such as the piping and gold crimped edges were far more enticing.

My photography has definitely improved this year, but I still have a long way to go.

This was our last big assignment before final exams, and what a fun one to finish the course on!



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