and you will have a good home, but after that you’re on your own.’ There was no coddling; you had to earn everything you had, so you cherished those things.” One of her many duties was cooking for the family. “When I was 5, I remember being let loose in the kitchen and making this dreadful cake for my parents, for Mother’s Day,” she recalls. “I was cutting up great lumps of orange and dumping them s food TV has branched into the cake. I got up at around out to focus its lens on five o’clock in the morning and virtually everything in promptly carried the cake up to the kitchen cupboard, dessert their bedroom and presented it baking has quickly risen to the like ‘breakfast in bed.’ I’m sure surface like cream, capturing they were thinking to themselves, sweets-loving audiences around ‘God, do we have to eat this?’” the world. (At present, there Later she realized that, in are no fewer than seven bakingcooking, she could opt to go related programs airing on TV.) “sweet or savory,” as she calls it, Self-taught cake designer Kerry and she picked the former— Vincent, one of the longtime baking sweets—because she found judges on a show called the “Food it supremely satisfying. She soon Network Challenge,” quickly developed into something of a proved her marketability with a baking prodigy. “I baked a cake signature cup of tea, a delightful, and entered it into the nearby Julia Child-like banter and an Albany [Australia] food show. ironclad authority about all things There was a mistake about my “sugarcraft.” entry, and my cake was judged We caught up with Ms. in the adult competition. I won Vincent back at home in Tulsa, a blue ribbon regardless, which Oklahoma, following months made it even sweeter,” she says, of 15-hour days full of taping without the slightest hint of irony. episodes for her new Food After meeting her American Network show, “Save My Bakery.” husband and moving with him to Having debuted this past March, many different places around the the show fit nicely into the rescue world, Vincent eventually made mold. The premise was built her way to Oklahoma, where she around the idea that so many began gaining a reputation as a family-owned bakery businesses dependable caterer, chef and allin the U.S. have grown stale around food maven. Her travels and are struggling to stay open. had exposed her to a wide array Vincent, with a no-nonsense, of cultures, and she had wisely tough love-like approach, spent picked up pointers in all manner the program working with of international cuisines. One overwhelmed proprietors, helping day, by chance, Vincent was asked get them and their businesses to bake a wedding cake for the back on their feet. friend of a friend. “I had a lot of experience with pastry, but, from Sweet or Savory? a structural standpoint, I wasn’t Vincent, the oldest of five sure I could ‘build’ the cake,” children who grew up on a farm she explains. True to her nature, in the remote, western Australian Vincent says she “Popped down village of Manypeaks, describes to the local cake shop and had her upbringing as loving but a little chat with the lady at the dutiful. “My father’s philosophy counter. I was relieved to discover about child-rearing was, ‘I will that, here in the United States, it bring you up and educate you was buttercream all the way, and
SCOTT JOHNSON HAWKS PHOTOGRAPHY TULSA OKLAHOMA
the planet, or that they should own a shop. My advice to them, often, is ‘Go to work, earn some money and earn the right to own a business and, of course, look at Putting in ‘hard yakka’ having a business plan.’ We have a saying in Australia: you have to As her reputation as a maestro put in ‘hard yakka,’ which simply of sugar artistry grew, so did the means ‘Get off your backside, put numbers of people knocking your head down and tail up, and on her door, seeking out her work to earn.’” expertise for every imaginable As Vincent’s program makes cake project. “I picked up some books and equipment, and a few it way through its first season’s ratings, she—and the Food recipes, and laboriously taught Network people—will decide myself how to do rolled fondant what’s next on her proverbial and gum paste techniques,” she plate. “I guess, as an outcome, says. Over time, her experience you can end up being a celebrity and savvy made her one of the on television, but I don’t really see most widely sought-after cakemyself as that person,” she says. crafters in the international “I’m just grateful that, at my age, baking community. In time, as the nation’s appetite I’ve been given an opportunity to do this and so many other things. for baking shows began ramping I’m thinking, ‘Pinch me,’ and up, Vincent was tapped by the hope that I’m handling this with Food Network to host a bakery some grace.” rescue show. “I think, after 13
I didn’t have to mess with rolled fondant and gum paste, because nobody was doing it over here at the time.”
I PICKED UP SOME BOOKS AND EQUIPMENT, AND A FEW RECIPES, AND LABORIOUSLY TAUGHT MYSELF HOW TO DO ROLLED FONDANT AND GUM PASTE TECHNIQUES. seasons as a judge on the ‘Food Network Challenge,’ they always had me on the back burner,” Vincent notes. “Besides, for the past 14 or 15 years, cake has been on fire. I went back to Australia and did the ‘Great Australian Bakeoff,’ and, when I returned, I started ‘Save My Bakery.’ She agrees that hosting a show like hers requires a particularly altruistic mindset, among many other virtues. “I’m a lifelong ombudswoman and regularly interact with my cake flock,” she says. “Every day, I field hundreds of requests from people who are trying to start a business or think that they make the best cake on
JULY/AUGUST • 2014
Published on Jun 30, 2014
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