For 24-year-old chef Ashley Baughman, sculpting fine desserts has always been more than a job — it’s a vocation that has led her around the country.
Baughman and fellow Indiana Memorial Union pastry chef Karlie Story competed in Atlanta’s prestigious Pastry Live tournament last weekend, a tradition that Baughman has honored for three years.
The event brings top chocolatiers and cake designers from around the world to compete and exchange knowledge, Baughman said. Results of the competition are yet to be released.
“You’re in a room surrounded by the top pastry chefs in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Malaysia — you go in knowing you’re going to grow from it, but it still takes a lot of preparation,” Baughman said.
Baughman, a Bloomington native, has been preparing for quite some time by earning a degree in baking and pastry arts and working as a pastry cook at the Taj Mahal’s sister hotel.
Today she oversees the wedding cake orders that stream into IMU’s Sugar & Spice Bakery and serves as executive pastry chef.
While Baughman competed in ice cream and plated dessert events, Story worked in two cake divisions. Story created one flapper-inspired tiered cake and another cake sculpted like a wooden sculpture and entitled, “The Artist’s Lay Figure.”
“It’s great community at Pastry Live,” Story said. “There is the competitiveness, but there’s a real camaraderie as well and shared experience. Nothing like you see on TV.”
Story, though relatively new to the baking scene, called cake design a “perfect match” for her persona.
“I always enjoyed art, but I also have quite a scientific mindset too, so baking, it really marries the two in a great way,” Story said. “Fine detail, the precision that it takes in finishing work, is what I like the most.”
“To do what I love to do everyday is the best part,” Baughman said. “I am the last bite you get at dinner — that’s what you walk away with on your mind. The showmanship, that last bite that comes from me and my kitchen, is why I do this.”
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