Kirsten Tibballs has been proclaimed the ‘the queen of chocolate’ by Masterchef, and is one of Australia’s most celebrated and internationally respected pastry chefs and chocolatiers. Kirsten 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 at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris, the Patisserie Grand Prix in Japan and the World Chocolate Masters National selections in London. Kirsten established Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School in Melbourne in 2002, a state of the art facility in Brunswick which plays host to renowned international chefs each year.
Why did you start baking?
I was passionate about cooking and baking from a young age. I didn’t actually go to high school so I made cakes from home and sold them, then when I was fifteen I started a pastry apprenticeship.
Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
Not at all! But I like that there is such diversity in what I do. I teach, I travel the world demonstrating, I judge international chocolate and patisserie competitions, I work as a consultant in the chocolate and patisserie business; the list goes on!
Who inspires you?
I find inspiration from many Chefs around the world, particularly those in the chocolate and patisserie industries. I have to admit however that my biggest inspirations are found much closer to home. Paul Kennedy who works with me at the school is a massive inspiration on a daily basis. I think we bring out the best in each other, and we keep each other motivated and inspired.
What gets you most excited at Fine Food?
I love seeing the talent that’s on display, and of course being there and doing demonstrations with ingredients that I love is very exciting. But I can admit that I have a passion for cooking equipment rather than ingredients. Taking the time to check out what’s new is something I genuinely look forward to.
Adapting to an ageing population is a topic at several sessions this year. You’ve run an anti-ageing chocolate class in the past – is chocolate the answer?
I like to think so! I’m not suggesting that we can turn back the clock or stop time with chocolate, but there are anti-ageing qualities to certain types of chocolate. The anti-ageing aspect is derived from the fact that it has nine times more polyphenols – or good antioxidants – than red wine and five times more than green tea, which we recognise as anti-ageing assistants – so it has to help! Plus chocolate makes you happy, and isn’t that the true fountain of youth?
Kirsten is set to return to the Fine Food Pastry Stage in 2015, stay tuned for more details.
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