Nadia McKinnon, our Head Decorator and Daytime Kitchen Manager, has been with us since September of 1999. Born in South Africa, her and her family moved to the States when she was 5. Below she talks about dropping her accent, exploring creative pursuits, and how being in the right place at the right time started her career at Pastiche.
I know you were young but do you remember what it was like transitioning from life in South Africa to life in the States?
I transitioned pretty well. Just to blend in I dropped the accent pretty quickly. I had a really proper British accent. I had it for maybe a year or two before it faded away. I was so young that it was very easy for me to transition from one place to the next.
When did your interest in baking and pastry start?
I’ve always liked to be creative. At the end of high school I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and my dad, who loves cooking, said ‘Hey, why don’t you look at culinary school?’ We went to an open house, and at first I was going to do culinary, but when they started taking about the baking and pastry program which was more artistic and creative–and they said it was a more intense program, that it was harder–I was like okay, I like that better!
How did you end up at Pastiche?
I had just finished my internship for my associate’s degree. At that point I was jobless and didn’t know what I wanted to do and they just happened to have an opening. It was perfect timing, luckily for me. I had been here a couple of times with friends and had always been wowed by the cakes.
Are there any desserts that we don’t offer any more that you miss?
We used to do an Apricot Almond cake. It was a very subtle, understated cake. That apricot mousse was so good! And the decoration was really pretty.
Are there any cake designs that you’re particularly proud of?
When we did the Peach Apricot cake that design took me forever to figure out, but when I finally got it I really liked the look of that cake. It had a swirly decoration and flowers on the side. If there was something that I identified as my style of decorating it would be putting things on the side of the cake for decoration. Most people focus on the top, but I think stuff on the side always looks good. Unfortunately we don’t make have that cake anymore.