Lyndsay Sung is an artist and baker running Coco Cake, a boutique custom cupcake and cake company located in Vancouver, BC. Coco Cake specializes in custom-designed, vintage-feel deluxe cupcakes and cakes. Her work is inspired by vintage children’s books, 1960s baking and pastry books, modern design sensibilities, supercute illustration and old-school buttercream piping techniques! Read the interview after the break and check her blog for tutorials and party ideas!
Could you please tell us about your background and career? How did you get into baking and pastry-making?
I am a self taught baker. I have a degree in Women’s Studies and Film Studies, and a subsequent degree in Integrated Media, where I studied filmmaking, video art, photography, installation and performance art. With baking, I was inspired by my grandma, who was a terrific baker (she is still alive and is 90 years old, but lives in a seniors home with no oven of her own). She gave me a stand mixer as a wedding present and I began experimenting from there. I learned through books mostly, and online tutorials, and practicing techniques. I’ve had many jobs, including working at an airport food production facility, developing 35mm film in a mall photo store, editing a local music magazine, teaching art to children, selling snow-cones at our city’s summer fair, touring and playing music in north america and europe. I feel settled now in being a baker, blogger and a mother. I considered going to pastry school a few times, and I might in the future.
Are you involved in any other project/job besides Coco Cake?
Currently not really, apart from writing for other websites. I may teach art to children again in the future. I love working with kids.
Which of your commissions did you enjoy the most? Why?
I like requests that appeal to my own design sense. I love vintage-look buttercream and a type of stylized illustration and I love vintage children’s books. I guess my favourite cakes have been a cake based on the Very Hungry Caterpillar children’s book (the cake became very popular online) and a hamburger cake. My commissions are mostly enjoyable because of the people I make them for – if I make them happy and they are very excited to order a cake from me, this is very enjoyable for me!
Do you have a typical work day? What is it like? Any special perks?
My work days are very atypical. I work around my baby’s napping schedule and I work when he’s sleeping at night. I run around and do normal things like grocery shop or go to the bank and take my baby out for walks in the sun (or even rain) and take him to music class and to cafés to visit friends. I would say the perks to my particular job is that I can set my own schedule and accept certain cake orders that excite me and pass on others. I’ll spend a lot of time photographing cakes, too. I also spend an inordinate amount of time on the computer, editing photos, writing about cakes and making my eyes bleed from too much computer time.
What does your home kitchen never lack?
My kitchen always, always has cake somewhere. I’m always giving it away to neighbours or friends!
What is the most common trouble in you job? How do you cope with that?
My job isn’t very troublesome at all, apart from stressing about making a cake look just right, physical problems like carpal tunnel syndrome from piping buttercream and being on the computer editing all the time. I suppose very demanding and rude customers are not very appealing, but when I receive an email from such a person I just say I’m unavailable, as I prefer only to work with friendly and excited clients.
What is your favorite food/dish?
a perfect margherita pizza, deep fried garlic lime and pepper chicken wings from a local Cambodian restaurant, tuna tataki sashimi. a slice of blackberry pie with vanilla bean ice cream. a salty sweet chocolate chip cookie. my favourite foods aren’t very complicated.
What do you listen to while cooking?
I listen to my good friend’s band Lightning Dust’s new album, I listen to This American Life podcasts and also some terrible music such as melancholy ballads of the 1980s. Occasionally I listen to metal. But I find it gets me too excitable and I can’t concentrate well.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
My friend Christa, she is an architect who looks like a skateboarder, she is a music genius and is a terrific writer and plays in a very good band called Womankind.
Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
I am a feminist baker. I have a pretty good sense of humour, but for some reason these questions are making me feel very serious.
File under: Interview