She's set some of the most difficult challenges on Masterchef Australia and is hailed as the Queen of Chocolate. Kirsten Tibballs is one of Australia's most celebrated chocolate and pastry chefs and has represented the country at the World Championships in Las Vegas.
Kirsten spent 5 minutes with She Does This talking about her career highlights and how she founded Savour, Melbourne's most popular chocolate and patisserie school.
SDT: Where does your passion for food come from?
KIRSTEN: It stems from my Mum. I have fond memories of her creating lots of amazing dishes for our family - my favourite was her golden syrup dumplings! She also used to make handmade chocolates, I loved watching her create them from scratch. There’s nothing better than indulging on chocolate that has been created by someone you love.
SDT: As an aspiring chef, who did you admire or look up to?
KIRSTEN: Early on in my career I worked alongside Stephane Leroux and Stephane Glacier, who both really helped me take my patisserie and chocolate skills to the next level. They are not the most famous pastry chefs, but certainly two of the most talented.
SDT: How did you get your start as a pastry chef?
KIRSTEN: I initially undertook a chef’s apprenticeship, but quickly realised it wasn’t for me! From there, I started working at a small patisserie in Mornington which reinforced my aspirations to work with chocolate and patisserie.
SDT: How hard was it breaking into a male dominated industry?
KIRSTEN: The hospitality industry is renowned for being male dominated, however women dominate the field of pastry. Being in the pastry industry, I was fortunate enough to never feel disadvantaged in any way, it was simply about hard work.
SDT: You founded Chocolate & Patisserie School, Savour, which offers specialised classes to cooks of all levels. What are some of your favourite classes held at Savour?
KIRSTEN: Savour’s chocolates and pralines classes are always a popular choice among the students and teachers, as well as petit gateaux. Now and again, I personally teach one off classes with my own recipes which prove popular! Last month, I taught a Cherry Tart class and a class dedicated to Callebaut Gold chocolate which aren’t on our regular schedule. People love something new and exciting.
SDT: You've appeared on Masterchef, represented Australia at the World Pastry Championships and have been hailed as the Queen of Chocolate! What are your tips for women wanting a successful career in the industry?
KIRSTEN: Read as many books as you can and stay up to date with your favourite chefs on social media. Upskilling is one of the most important aspects of being a professional pastry chef. To stay relevant, you must be constantly evolving and creating what consumers are demanding. Customers want to see more advanced products and if you don’t nurture your skills and come up with fresh ideas, people will lose interest.
SDT: Finally, being from Melbourne you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants! What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
Melbourne's food scene is remarkable, but I have to say The Press Club is my favourite restaurant. For brunch, I am a fan of Higher Ground.