Questions for Carleton’s Great Canadian Baker Aimee DeCruyenaere

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Quote the Raven: Aimee
Industrial Design

Aimee

Combining butter, sugar and 3D printed templates from the Carleton design lab in the Great Canadian Baking tent is fourth year industrial design student Aimee DeCruyenaere.

Aimee has become known on season five of the Great Canadian Baking Show for her precise and whimsical creations which wow the judges.

We connected with the Ottawa resident to talk about her love of butter, bringing her education into the world of food and how the show might impact her future after graduation.

Aimee DeCruyenaere at the baking bench for the Great Canadian Baking Show

Photo courtesy of CBC

1. Tell me a bit about your baking journey and how that started. What do you love most about it?

Growing up, my mom was a baker so I grew up having dessert after every meal – lunch dessert, dinner dessert – she baked cookies and cinnamon buns and stuff like that. So when I was old enough to start helping out I was her little sous chef in the kitchen. And it just kind of grew from there. Definitely during the pandemic I became a lot more ambitious because I had a lot of spare time, I wasn’t commuting anymore and I wasn’t going out or anything, so that combined with my education – at that point I was three years in to design school – it was kind of the perfect storm just to be really creative and play with baking and treat it more like an art medium.

2. You’ve talked about your family background and how that influences some of your cooking and baking – your French-Canadian side and your Chinese side – how do you integrate that into your work?

Growing up I was introduced to a lot of Chinese pastries and Chinese flavours, because my grandparents actually immigrated here and started a Chinese restaurant, so their lives were always very food-centred. So, I think that gave me a broader outlook on what you can do with flavours, and what you can do with food and made me a lot more experimental. So, I like to play to both sides of my heritage if I can.

3. You’ve brought some of your industrial design skills and even some 3D printing into the tent. How do you see your design skills complimenting your baking?

It’s become equally as much a design endeavor as it has a baking endeavor. The baking is the medium – it’s similar to learning to paint or sculpt, once you know how the medium behaves you can then apply the creativity and your design skills and that imagination to it. I think I got to the point with baking where I know the fundamentals of how food behaves, and now it’s about design, and what I can imagine and bringing that to life. So that’s really exciting for me to play with food that way.

4. You have these specific designs skills through your education and these baking skills. What’s next for you? Do you have plans to bake professionally?

Even before I got on the show it was always my dream to work in the food and kitchen space, whether that be appliance design or kitchen wares such as mixers and utensils, I always thought that would be super fun. But I’m not sure, we’ll see where life takes me after I graduate.

5. Tell me about the show process itself.

They filmed an entire season during COVID before our season, so they knew the ropes and it was pretty ironed out by the time we got there. We always felt safe and we had our own little baker bubble so it was something good and unique to do during the pandemic. I’m amazed they were able to run this whole thing with all these hurdles in the way. I’m grateful they made it work with all this other stuff going on.

6. What was the most surprising thing about the filming, once you got to the tent and started doing your thing?

I was surprised it was a TV show! That probably sounds naïve, but I thought I would go and bake and that would be it. But there are so many people working on the set. You don’t realize how much the cameras and other stuff will be a distraction, so I got a big wakeup call the first day with so many people running around talking to you and talking about you – all these people are here and it’s just for us 10 to be on the screen.

Aimee DeCruyenaere with Great Canadian Baking Show host Ann and judges

Photo courtesy of CBC

7. Is there a lesson you want to share with your fellow students from this experience?

Don’t be afraid to take your education in an unorthodox direction. Sometimes it’s easy to be linear in your thinking about what you can do with what you learned in school. But it helped me to take all the things I learned at Carleton and apply it to a completely different field – I never would have expected it to benefit me so much.

Thank you Aimee – Carleton wishes our Raven all the best in your baking journey!

The Great Canadian Baking Show airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

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