Interview. Kirsten Tibballs loves chocolate and works She says “I love passing on my knowledge to others. Teaching people who attend my classes brings such a sense of satisfaction and I find real joy in showing them how to work with chocolate …”
by Antonella Iozzo
Kirsten Tibballs has represented Australia at the World Pastry Championships in Las Vegas, where she was recognised as the best in the world for her handmade chocolates, as well as winning gold in the Pastry Olympics in Germany. She has also been a judge for global competitions such as the World Chocolate Masters in Paris, the Patisserie Grand Prix in Japan and the World Chocolate Masters National selections in London. In 2002 Kirsten founded Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School in Melbourne. Tibballs is the author of two cookbooks, a regular contributor to pastry publications and has featured on several television shows including MasterChef Australia.
Kirsten When did you first know you wanted to become a pastry chef?
I initially started an apprenticeship as a culinary chef because I always loved to cook, but I quickly realised that patisserie and chocolate would be a better career path for me!
Win many international competitions such as the World Pastry Championships in Las Vegas,how important was it to you?
As a pastry chef, you must constantly push yourself and step outside the boundaries. International competitions such as the World Pastry Championships were the perfect opportunity for me to do that so it was really important to me.
Kirsten Tibballs when did you first start to conceive the Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School?
I founded Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School in 2002. Back then, there was nowhere in Australia where you could learn all aspects of chocolate and patisserie in short periods of time and that catered for all levels. It was the first of its kind in Asia Pacific. Everyone from beginners thorough to intermediate and advanced students can enrol in our classes.
What are its goals?
I want to educate those of all levels, to inspire budding pastry chefs and home bakers and provide them with the skills required to thrive in the industry. As well as hands-on classes in Melbourne, I teach online classes for those who cannot physically come to Australia. Students can learn from myself and a host of guest chefs from the comfort of their own kitchen, anytime, anywhere. My aim is to share what I know and love about the industry with people from all over the world.
Kirsten, how is your relationship to chocolate?
I absolutely love chocolate and working with it in all its applications; that’s what inspired me to open Savour School. Chocolate is such a versatile ingredient to work with and the opportunities for creativity are endless.
How would you describe chocolate in five words?
Versatile, delicious, decadent, indulgent and an antioxidant!
You are considered the Queen of Chocolate, what does this represent for you?
It’s a title I strive to live up to so it encourages creativity for me. Patisserie is such a dynamic industry and the standard of product is so impressive. I have to continue developing new concepts, and ensuring my title is warranted. You can’t be considered the Queen of Chocolate if you’re creating the same products over again!
What do you think about MasterChef Australia?
It’s an amazing oppportunity to showcase talent in a way that wasn’t present when I was starting out. The industry in Australia can be seen as lagging, but MasterChef Australia proves that this is no longer the case and our industry is thriving with innovation. I watch MasterChef Australia every year, it’s great to see new talent emerge on the food scene.
Kirsten Tibballs, your appearances at MasterChef Australia stimulate aspiring chefs to learn new techniques. How much do you think this is important?
Patisserie is such a precise form and the industry is constantly evolving. It’s essential that pastry chefs adapt quickly and develop their technique. MasterChef Australia isn’t just entertainment, it’s something that everyone can enjoy through sharing the same respect for cooking. It’s a wonderful platform to launch your cooking career and inspire others to move outside of their comfort zone.
Kirsten, what was the best chocolate dessert that you have created?
One of my favourites is a Rum Raisin that I created when I was teaching in Barcelona last month. The varying flavours of caramel, praline and chocolate were balanced perfectly with textures of mousse, creme brulee and a crunchy base.
What do you love most about your job?
I love passing on my knowledge to others. Teaching people who attend my classes brings such a sense of satisfaction and I find real joy in showing them how to work with chocolate and the types of products they can create from it.
What or who is inspiring you?
I find inspiration in so many aspects of daily life, such as nature and architecture. An idea can stem from anything! Social media has a huge influence on every pastry chef, as you have access to images and videos of products from all over the world. I also read lots of patisserie and chocolate books.
What is your ultimate dream?
To give every aspiring pastry chef the tools they need to succeed.
di Antonella Iozzo ©Riproduzione riservata