My friend and amazing baker Corina Elgart is about to enter the competition of a lifetime. Not that being a mom to two little ones and launching her own bakery, Taste in Syosset, NY wasn’t challenging enough, but just to add a little more intensity to her resume, Corina is competing on TLC’s new reality cooking show, Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker, hosted by none other than Buddy Valastro and she’s not one to mess around with. At stake, oh just $50,000 and a chance to work next to Mr. Valastro himself, and of course, superstardom.
Before Corina skyrockets to pastry fame, I got to ask her a few questions so that you can peek behind the camera into the mind of a truly multitalented woman, fabulous baker and fierce competitor! Be sure to tune in this Monday, December 6th for the first episode and help me cheer Corina on. And, if you happen to be in Nassau County on premiere night, Bar Frites in Greenvale is hosting a party in Corina’s honor from 9:00-11:00pm.
How old were you when you started baking?
Always loved to cook and bake. Was always in the kitchen w/ my mother but didn’t discover a love for baking until the pregnancy with my youngest, Domenica in 2008. In the womb and even now-she’s a sweets junkie!
When did you realize you were good at it?
I realized the passion for baking almost immediately, I loved the science of it and how precise everything needed to be. I realized I was good at it instantaneously…the way I look at things is that if you have a love and passion for a skill you’re bound to be great at it!!
Did you have another career, or were you always a pastry chef?
I started out as a Criminal Investigator for the federal government in washington dc. Family circumstances lead me back to NY where I started a family. It wasn’t until my children were 4 and 2 yrs old that I decided to take the leap and make a career change.
Did you have private clients before you opened Taste?
I started making cakes for private clients out of my home as I was getting my feet wet in the industry. Suddenly, 5 mos later I was doing 5-7 cakes a week out my home and decided to take the plunge and open a shop.
How long have you had the idea for Taste?
I dreamed of owning my own cake shop the day I decorated my first cake. It was a dream of mine that I feared would never come true. Balancing children and marriage and daily life is a full time job in it of itself so I wondered where the time would come to run a shop. However, I have an incredible work ethic and always have, I’m a master at multi tasking and was determined to turn my dream into a reality.
What made you go ahead and open the storefront?
I decided to open a store front because I was extremely busy working out of my home. Cakes, fondant and various tools were taking over my entire house. I had a 20qt mixer on my dining room table!! Despite the economy and the risk I had to jump in. That’s my style, go big or go home. I felt like, why wait…live in the moment and go for it.
Your creations have a very unique style. How did you develop that touch?
I make sure I put my mark on everything I do. I keep up with trends and seek inspiration all around me. When ever something strikes me, fashion, artwork, you name it, I jot it down into my blackberry and wonder how and when I can turn it into cake. I go to sleep thinking about cake design and wake up in cake design. There is always going to be someone out there who does what you do, I believe that you need to make your mark and make it your own.
What else do you make besides cakes?
We started making cupcakes and cake lollipops at the shop. They’re big sellers and bring the customers in to see what cakes we’re working on that week.
If someone wanted you to create a special cake for them, what is the process like?
Typically a client will call and set up a consultation appointment. For example, if it’s for a wedding cake, I have the client bring me what inspires them. Their invitation, dress pictures, color sceme, flowers, and also any pictures of cakes they have seen and like so that I can get a better understanding of what they want. From there we work up a design together on paper. I sketch it out and they approve it. Closer to the wedding date we do a tasting. A client will go over our tasting options and I will prepare a plate of samples with fillings and cake choices for them to try out.
You are competing on TLC’s new reality show “Next Great Baker” hosted by Buddy Valastro from the hugely popular TLC show Cake Boss. How did you get on the show?
My road to the Next Great Baker was so exciting. Someone had mentioned to me on FB that Buddy was casting for a new reality show. I never in a million years thought I’d even apply. There were THOUSANDS of applicants so I never thought I’d get a second look. I decided to fill out the application and received a call the next morning asking me to make an audition tape. From there, there was a weeding out process and we were narrowed down to 20 ppl with a final cast of 10. After interviewing I was chosen as one of the 10 contestants for the show. I was elated, nervous but elated!!!
Without giving too much away, what was that experience like?
The experience of filming Next Great Baker was one of the greatest times of my life. I learned more than I ever thought possible from Buddy, his staff and from my fellow competitors. We were all so different, yet shared a common love and appreciation for baking and cake decorating which made the experience so unbelievable. It was challenging being away from my family, shop and life back home but I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything in the world. This competititon has made me a better baker, a better decorater and a better business woman. I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity.
What’s your favorite bakery, other than your own?
I don’t frequent too make bakeries-lol….I can’t say I have a favorite. It’s hard to go ot bakeries when you’ve been baking every single day!! I crave savory when I’m not at my shop!
What advise would you give someone who is considering becoming a pastry chef?
Interesting question, I recently was a keynote speaker at my culinary school graduation and we talked about this. I would tell an aspiring pastry chef to GO FOR IT. It’s always worth it to expand your education in any field, especially one so sweet My best advise would be to listen, and watch, and learn. Ask questions constantly, practice at home, bake, create, and love every moment of it. Your passion will reflect in your product!
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working I am enjoying time with my family and friends. I have an amazing husband and 2 great kids whom I love to be with, as well as a loving family support system. Being with them is the greatest joy in my life.
Are you ready for superstardom?
Am I ready for superstardom!?!?! ABSOLUTELY!! I never DREAMED this would happen and I am ready. More importantly I hope to inspire other people out there to follow their dreams. There are other people out there just like me who are managing family and households and I want to show people that you can have it all and do it all if you are willing to put in the work and be passionate. To be honest I couldn’t have asked for a better network to be on and a better cast to have worked with. I can only hope that this show helps to grow my business and grant me the exposure I seek for greater success in my shop.
And! Corina was kind enough to share her recipe for pumpkin bread with us!
Preheat oven to 375º
Add ingredients to mixer in order:
15 oz canned pure pumpkin
2t Baking soda
1 ½ salt
3 ½ c Flour
1t of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg
½ t mace
2/3 cold water
…bake 35 minutes then lower temp to 350 for 15 additional minutes. Enjoy!