There is an old saying that “women make good cooks, but men make better chefs.” Setting aside the inaccuracy of this statement, it does tell us something important about the way that society looks at the roles of men and women in the kitchen. Women have traditionally taken on the role of family cook. But they were usually not seen as suitable candidates for the more complex and prestigious jobs of managing elaborate kitchens or bakeries in fancy restaurants.
For decades, women have fought for equality in every aspect of their lives. And it is certainly true that this overall trend towards equality has had an impact in the professional kitchen. At the same time, inspirational female chefs, bakers and restaurateurs have shown the world what women are capable of. They have worked with tenacity and perseverance to thrive and exert influence within a male dominated industry.
Rebecca Kester is one of these culinary dynamos who has applied her unique creativity and style to the art of baking. Rebecca grew up in an old farm house with a lot of animals and children from her mother’s daycare that was run out of the house. She was always surrounded by art, competing with her family in creating the next best thing.
Her family was a driving force in inspiring Rebecca to create:
• Rebecca’s father Patrick is a sculptor, sculpting beautiful marble and wooden figures in the family barn
• Rebecca’s mother Heidi creates jewelry out of metal clay
• Rebecca’s two older sisters, Jenna and Julia were/are Rebecca’s biggest influences who she tried to copy in everything from drawing, sculpturing or clothing fashion.
It was very clear to Rebecca that art would be part of her career. Baking and cake making was a unique, fun way to use her sculpting and painting background. She took her chance at age 17, where she began making cakes at home and the path of her career was identified.
Rebecca knew to pursue her passion in making cakes she needed to take big step and she did. In pursuing her dream, at age 18 she moved to NYC, to study at the “French Culinary Institute” earning her diploma in Pastry Arts. After graduation Rebecca lived in the hectic city of Manhattan for 2 years, working as the assistant decorator at the well-known “Betty Bakery” and “Silk Cakes” where she created and sculpted cakes and soaked up as much as knowledge and experience as she could. All the techniques of piping beautiful detailed royal icing cookies Rebecca learned working at “Elenis Cookies” during her stay at NYC.
To save money for her next big adventure, which was a 3 month backpacking trip to Europe, Rebecca moved home after her time in NYC to a small town in Wayne Country. The first month of her backpacking trip to Europe was with a friend from culinary school, and the other two months were on her own. Her time in Europe was spent tasting and experiencing different types of creative pastries, desserts and cakes. Rebecca traveled through 15 European Countries, visiting more than 30 cities. She definitely identifies this experience as the most challenging, inspiring step she has taken so far in her life. Upon her return home, Rebecca embraced the adventure by opening her own cake business, Daydream Cakes.
The world is always looking for the next big thing in culinary arts. Whether it’s a dish that changes how we think about food, a persona that excites the public, or a glimpse into the high-fashion world of pastry arts that makes non-chefs excited about cooking, talented pastry chefs are constantly reinventing the dessert world. Successful pastry chefs have more than just a sweet tooth! It takes dedication to the craft, innovation, and curiosity to develop the skill set that will bring the world its next great pastry chef.
To reach Rebecca’s goal of becoming the next great pastry chef, she started working full time for Karen Osterling at Cakes by Karen in Spencerport. This powerful pastry duo decided to try out on Food Network for the Cake Wars show and were accepted as contestants. They were on their way to LA to film on the Food network set! They didn’t end up winning on the show, but it was an amazing experience for both ladies and a great opportunity to meet fellow cake decorators from all over the world.
Upon their return from LA, Rebecca and Karen decided to open a new shop together called Cake Co-op. It was a great adventures step for both ladies. For Karen, the new open shop allowed her to keep her name Cakes by Karen. For Rebecca, it was an opportunity to start her Daydream Cakes business on her own.
Rebecca’s life mantra: “I find inspiration from everyone in my life. From Karen who is one of my best friend and is always there for advice on business, life, and cake ideas, to my amazing parents who gave me the freedom to go for my dream. My sister, Julia, who is an art teacher and is always someone to compete with and exchange artistic ideas and creations with, and Jenna, who is an amazing mother of triplets who just turned one and is the most amazing mother I hope to be like one day. To my boyfriend Sean who is also an artist with his many guitars always singing, drawing, and dancing who brings fun and happiness to my life.”
Currently, Rebecca works full-time running her own business, with Karen next door who runs her own business down the hall, which makes both of them happy and fulfilled. Rebecca lives in the city of Rochester with her wonderful boyfriend Sean Morgan and dog Charlie. At the time, they are planning a trip to Thailand. Rebecca’s style is that she is up for anything and always on the lookout for next adventure.
Pastry is a rigorous art and precise science. The culinary pastry industry is one of the most notorious male-dominated careers. The art of mastering pastries is a carefully crafted one. Rebecca is sharing her pastry artistic gift daily with all of us. Thank you, Rebecca.