Whether it’s Gangnam Style or Scooby Doo: Life is a Piece of Cake for Adora
By Marivir R. Montebon
It took a long time for this article to bake. But here’s one that is fresh from the oven (errr, laptop) and truly delectable.
Adora Adora-Penn has practically been all over town for her catering business and social functions, or if not, she chooses to remain untouchable when whipping up food and baking cakes in her kitchen in her Farmingdale house. Four years since the Adorable Chef came to business, life has been, well, a lot of cakes.
Adora is a natural kitchen queen, taking on the influence of her mother in the Philippines where she grew up. In many ways, her life in the East was so much an expression of the wisdom of using the raw goodness of herbs and plants, to which many could relate.
Her mother had used pure coconut milk as shampoo for them as children. Freshly picked malunggay leaves made up for the heartwarming chicken soup for lunch. In school,
Adora embraced with delight the culinary lessons of her Home Economics class which introduced her further to cooking and baking, and made her discover her creative abilities. In her professional life, Adora became a marketing expert, a Sony Music label manager when she met her husband, Bruce Penn, a former tour manager for the R&B girl group Allure who was on contract in the Philippines.
Adora’s professional work at Sony became an avenue for her creative ways. Her love for cooking, and the passion for details that it requires, had been literally carried on to her professional job, making her respectable and sought after as a marketing expert.
When she moved to the US with her husband, her culinary adventures were heightened simply because she was in a new place. It was in the US that Adora discovered the joys of cake decorating, aside from experimenting on cooking food from other cultures.
Being in the food business naturally makes Adora health-conscious, an added value for her clients that she ensures the best and safest ingredients in her menu, which ranges from breakfast to desserts.
But creativity is one description that fits Adora’s culinary work, a solid ground to the claim that she is truly an Adorable Chef.
Excerpts of our interview:
1. When did you start business and why choose the pastry sector in culinary arts?
I love cooking. I like trying out recipes from different cultures, and learning its history or origin of certain dishes. When I moved here in America, I began to explore everything about food and how to make them. I thought I can use this knowledge to fit in to my new life. I thought I would be able to talk about it, and I will gain friends because of this new knowledge of different recipes. And it all came true!
In the process, I discovered my new talent and fell in love with baking cakes and cake decorating.
I actually watch Youtube a lot more than I watch the food channel to learn all my cake decorating techniques. My inspiration in cake decorating, whether it’s customized cake or regular cake designs, are the people who follow me in my social networking sites (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Pinterest). Mostly they random people from all over the place. 3. Are customized cakes more tedious to do and more expensive? If so, why venture into this?
Definitely customized cakes are both tedious and expensive, especially fondant cakes. You have to spend more hours or days to build all the pieces that you need to incorporate with the design of the cake.
Mostly you have to create these pieces by hand. For example, the cake toppers or the sugar art, must be dried for at least a day or two, depending on the size. After drying, you have to color the pieces. I mostly use airbrush.
Why venture into this? Cake decorating to me actually my expression of creativity. It really doesn’t matter whether if it is customized or just a regular cake. I just plainly love decorating and building cakes into a form of art.
I don’t copy someone else’s work. My designs are mostly created in agreement my clients. 4. Sweets are bad for the health. Is there a way to make healthy but delicious cakes? Can you make healthy customized too?
Everything that is too much is actually bad. I would be lying of I say sweets is not bad for our health. However, we always have choices when it comes to taking care of our health.
Yes, we can definitely customize what we want to put on our cakes. I attended the Healthy Baking Classes (Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free baking) by Vegan Pastry Chef Fran Costigan at Institute of Culinary Arts (I.C.E.) in New York City. There I learned various tactics involved in baking without all of these “bad” ingredients. You’ll be surprised because these cakes are so delicious and the tastes are definitely no big difference. 5. Is competition tough in the cake industry? How do you manage?
To me, competition is not tough. I don’t have a front store or a bakeshop so I limit the cake projects that I accept each month. I only accept the ones that would challenge my creativity. That’s how I manage my time.
6. Any plans for business?
The Adorable Chef has been registered as business since October 2010. I choose not to have a front store or a bakeshop so I can focus only on catering desserts, cake decorating cake decorating parties/classes. In the future, I plan to build a studio where I can continue to do the same cake business strategy. I want to teach enthusiasts the joy of creativity in making customized cakes.