Kate Cram has the skill set to be a good chef and baker.
As one of the owners of Old Town Bakery, she is always baking new treats for the Ladysmith community. But customers might not know that the famous chef and author Julia Child taught their baker.
When she was 17 years old, Cram left the Island to study at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York.
The CIA is considered to be the Julliard of cooking. Cram obtained a Bachelor’s Degree of Culinary Arts from the CIA and trained with the best chefs and bakers.
“Education really gives you the fundamentals … it’s good to have the fundamentals because I hardly need a recipe because I know the ratios,” said Cram.
“Had I not had the fundamental things, I would not have been able to do everything, and the management is just as important as the cake.”
Celebrity cook and cultural icon Julia Child guest lectured while Cram was at CIA. Cram spent a day with the cooking sensation, and while it was educational, it wasn’t necessarily enjoyable.
“It was my job to make her happy for the day, bringing her tea, etc.,” said Cram. “She was a cranky lady; she was really, really old. But it was neat to spend time with someone that was such a legend, and she just had an air of passion about her.”
The young Cram was inspired by the challenges Child had to overcome and the leaps she made in the culinary arts.
“She had a lot of things going against her in her career, and she did a lot of things for cooking and for women that were pretty amazing,” she said.
“It was nice to be in her presence and know that you could achieve that if you wanted to.”
Cram was introduced to cooking at the age of nine when her parents gave her a cookbook.
Ten years later, she opened her first bakery, and it was not long before it was a success. All she “kneaded” was passion.
“With baking, you just get a lot of instant satisfaction of what people enjoy,” she said. “We’ve grown so much, and it’s just so rewarding to see what we turned this place into … I think for me, it was about passion.”
Old Town Bakery has risen up, winning the 2012 B.C. Living’s People’s Choice Award for Best Desserts.
Cram is always thinking of fresh ideas and keeps up to date on baking trends.
“I constantly see what the competition is doing, what we are doing,” she said. “You just have to stay on top of the trends. Reading five different things a week is what I try to do.”
Old Town Bakery is located at 510 First Ave. in Ladysmith and is open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.