Are you ready for a baker who will be featured at Harvest on the Harbor in Portland, Maine, Oct. 21-23, 2010. Her exhibits exceptional talent.
Kristin Simmons does custom cakes and pastries. She will be providing the featured dessert at the Perfect Pairing on Friday evening and will also be exhibiting at the Marketplace. I’m sure pleased that we will be attending all the different functions, as they all sound fantastic. Norm and I are looking forward to meeting all the great suppliers that will be participating.
Kristin is a wife, mother, and home chef. She is owner and head baker of Kristin F. Simmons, which was started as a way to bring together all of the passions in her life.
Kristin was trained as a chef first by her father, who had been trained as a cook for a Boy’s Summer Camp. She cooked at home with her sister from the age of five and began selling baked goods at the age of 15. She studied Italian in College and took time to travel abroad. It was in Florence that Kristin attended her first formal Chef training at the Cordon Bleu of Firenze. She learned about Regional Tuscan and Italian cuisine. She brought her expertise home to the Northeast and began supporting herself as a Graduate Student by catering, cake making and baking for a local farmer’s market and a German bakeshop.
Time passed and Kristin’s passion for cuisine and flavor grew. She started a monthly cooking club and recipe exchange during her first pregnancy, and began writing in the Fall of 2008 for the York County Coast Star about her favorite restaurants, home cooks, tools and techniques.
Today she shares her passion with her two daughters, her “little chefs” and her husband. They reside on the Coast of Maine.
On to the interview questions:
Kristin: Most of the recipes I use are extensions of recipes that I inherited from places I have worked and bakers with whom I have studied. I have made my own additions and changed things to suit my own taste, oven and style here and there. The one recipe that stands out is the one that I feel a deep sense of ownership towards: My Citrus Rosemary Cake.
This is the one recipe that I have developed from scratch and one that I truly enjoy people tasting. I have been heavily influenced by Italian cuisines and olive oil and rosemary cakes are part of that landscape. After living in Italy, I came home and replicated many of the dishes I loved eating while I was there. This cake is a great link between the flavors I enjoy from Italy and the sweetness I adore as an American.
I love seeing people’s delight and surprise when the floral lemony flavors hit their tongue. They consistently say how they would have never thought to put rosemary in a sweet cake. I like that it is unexpected and makes my customers close their eyes for one moment and pause.
Maralyn: What is your favorite ingredient to work with when cooking and why?
Kristin: I love using my neighbor’s fresh eggs. They are large and beautiful to look at in and out of the shell. Their yolks are deep golden and even pink in color. This gives my cakes a beautiful hue and sponge-like, lofty and moist quality.
Maralyn: What is your favorite cooking utensil and why?
Kristin: My Microplane Rasp. It is extremely quick, efficient and makes great citrus zest and chocolate shavings. In the hand, it feels comfortable and it a pleasure to use.
Maralyn: Do you have any tips for those desiring to become a chef/baker/chocolatier?
Kristin: As with any profession or vocation, constant practice and study are crucial. This is true whether it be in school, on the job or in an apprenticeship. You need to be able to say to yourself, “I choose this and therefore, I will learn to work hard and efficiently, sharpen my strengths and learn to delegate when I need to.” I think reading and exposure to new ideas is very important, as well as travels. I love listening and talking with other people and food is the outlet for even the shyest of people to open up. You can connect and learn so much about the world and yourself. My advice is to be open and take risks by allowing yourself the possibility of mistakes from which you can grow.
If you want to check out more details for Harvest on the Harbor go to http://www.harvestontheharbor.com/.