I can already smell the fresh baked gingerbread after reading this interview with Chef Lorie Murray of Simply Cakes. It’s clear that Murray is truly passionate about her career and seems just as excited about our Gingerbread Benefit as we are! We feel so lucky to have her participating this year and I personally can’t wait to see her Raleigh-inspired gingerbread shops!
What or who inspired you to become a pastry chef? I grew up in a family of foodies, before anyone knew what foodies were! My step mother was my main influence in culinary growing up. She and her mom had a catering business and they would make these wonderful meals, and deserts. Christmas time was a joy, with homemade candies, cookies, gingerbread, and these wonderful holiday meals! I also loved to paint and sculpt. So I decided to go to college to learn design. I also discovered while I was raising my own family, my love for cooking and baking continued. When I would have dinner parties, I would spend hours planning my plating designs using my art skills and love of cooking combined. My friends often told me that this loved showed through in my food. I took a couple of college courses and classes with famous cake decorators because I was fascinated by the sculpted side of cake decorating. I found I could combine both my love of art and cooking into one. To this day, I still find myself spending hours planning cakes and dreaming up new methods!
Who do you look up to in the field? Nicholas Lodge and Mike McCarey. I have taken classes with Nicholas Lodge and he is an incredible teacher, an amazing artist and an inspiration to me. His flowers are the most beautiful I have ever seen, with such attention to detail. Mike McCarey has the most incredible eye for making cake not look like cake. To have his talent!
When you start a project do you have a vision or goal in mind, or do you figure it out as you go? A lot of my planning is in my head, as I am very visual. If its an unusual project, I will draw it out first or research. Most of the research is on the structural side. Sometimes I just sit down with a pile of layer cake and start carving away from what I see in my head.
What are your favorite ingredients to work with?
Chocolate cake and gum paste!
What will the inspiration for your gingerbread house be? If you’re unsure, how will you plan and prepare for the Gingerbread Benefit? My team and I are working on the idea of a set of shops. We would love to honor how the city of Raleigh has revised itself into a place to not only work, but good food, good shopping and great entertainment.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a pastry chef? Heat and Humidity! They drive me crazy!
When do you feel most rewarded for your work? Ah, the smiles on the faces of people admiring your work and tasting your food. There is nothing better than bringing that kind of happiness to a person, especially when you are doing something you love.
The 9th annual Gingerbread Benefit is to be held on December 1, 2011 at the Umstead Hotel and Spa. Tickets for the event are available online at https://tfsnc.org/index.php/gingerbread-benefit/purchase-tickets-online
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