Val anne (Annie) welch, pastry chef
I'm a retired professional pastry chef who has been baking for 29 years. Although I've given up the rigors of the professional pastry kitchen, I still bake in a professional way. Whether it's for family and friends, or VIP clients, my standards are the same: I try to come as close to perfection as humanly possible.
I've always considered myself an artist first and foremost, and while a lot of the focus is on visual appeal, the other half is taste, and that's probably the most important part. A lot of times you have to sacrifice one for the other, but my philosophy is a balance between the two. Because of that, I've learned to draw boundaries, and after 29 years, there are some things I will no longer do:
Cakes that are sculpted to look like other things besides cake. Why? Because there are limitations to what I can do with textures and flavors, and the finish work usually consists of ingredients, that while edible, aren't particularly tasty, ie. fondant. I spent a lot of my career doing those types of cakes. They are fun to do and to look at, but not nearly so fun to eat.
Desserts or cakes that are overly erotic or just plain gross. No, I will not do a cake that looks like a chopped off body part for Halloween, or an interactive cake that squirts "blood" when you cut into it.
Interactive cakes for the same reasons as sculpted cakes. In case you're not sure what that means, it means it's a cake that you can "interact" with in some way before you eat it. A lot of times this involves moving parts ie. a cake that rotates or spins. I'm really not a believer in playing with your food. And dammit Jim! I'm a pastry chef, not an engineer!
Red Velvet cake. People who know me know that this is a hard NO. There is just way too much red food coloring that goes into those. WAY TOO MUCH. It affects the flavor (what little flavor there is) and I just don't feel good doing them. I stand 100% behind my product, and I can't stand 100% behind Red Velvet.
Being a pastry chef is a form of commercial art. For artists, commercial art is a way to pay the bills. You are commissioned by people to make things for them that appeal to their needs and tastes. It's all good and it helps expand your skills as an artist. The other side to that though is that the art that is in your soul, screaming to get out is kinda stuck there because what I like doing vs. what other people want are frequently two different things.
I'm tired of copying other people's work. I want to do my own designs. I want to let that screaming post-menopausal creative bee-yotch out. My best work has always when people are brave enough to say, "This is what I'm thinking.......Annie, what can you do?" Those are the types of commissions I want to take on. If I see you approaching with a copy of Martha Stewart Weddings in your hand, you can GTFO. That said, I still have limitations. I have a small kitchen space and doing really large orders isn't do-able. Any cake that is taller than 3-4 tiers or pastries and desserts over 200 pieces I probably can't do. It all sort of depends on what it is though.
Are you a local Port Townsend organization looking for a food donation?
Please inquire! I'd love to help
Important! At least 2 weeks lead time is required on all orders!
The village baker, Port Townsend, WA
Head Pastry Chef
Great cakes and edible monuments, Redmond, WA
Head Pastry Chef/Cake Designer
European pastry cafe
Assistant Pastry Chef, Cake Designer
Cake designer, Production manager, Lead bread baker