Is it cake, or a sneaker? U of T grad and expert baker fools judges on Netflix baking show

In the summertime of 2020, two unrelated questions have been on many individuals's minds: How lengthy will the COVID-19 pandemic final, and is everything made of cake?

On social media, movies of bakers remodeling desserts into pink Cros, rolls of bathroom paper or potted vegetation went viral, prompting delight and disbelief in equal measure. 

April Julian, a graduate of the College of Toronto's School of Arts & Science and long-time cake designer, was no stranger to creating hyper-realistic truffles, having made some to appear to be Air Jordan sneakers and potted orchids.

Julian acquired an opportunity to point out off her unconventional abilities as the one Canadian contestant on Netflix's new hit baking present, Is It Cake?, which premiered this spring. She competed alongside different masterful bakers to create truffles so reasonable that they fooled movie star judges into believing they have been one thing else – a vintage sewing machine, for instance. 

“I used to be blown away,” she says, recalling the surprising invitation she acquired from Netflix’s casting company final summer season. “I didn’t imagine it initially.”

Earlier than she knew it, she was flying to Los Angeles to movie the sequence. Her competitors was intimidating – some contestants had been on baking reveals earlier than, others had established bakeries – however Julian’s nerves rapidly pale.

“That is essentially the most enjoyable factor that has ever occurred to me,” she says. “It was simply laughing for weeks on finish. In fact, it was additionally exhausting work. We have been baking just about nonstop for eight or 9 hours straight. The challenges have been actually tough, nevertheless it was so price it.”

Along with making customized truffles and instructing cake adorning lessons, she works full time because the director of training on the Canadian Civil Liberties Affiliation (CCLA).

“I’m instructing learners of all ages about their elementary rights and freedoms in Canada and to respect human rights and civil liberties,” she says.

As an undergraduate scholar and member of Innis School, she studied economics and employment relations, areas she “felt might be transferable to a whole lot of completely different profession paths.

“With labour relations programs, you have a look at authorized points associated to labour and union disputes, so I had a little bit of follow serious about the regulation, employment rights and rights usually,” she says.

She additionally has fond reminiscences of U of T because of the friendships she made whereas in college. 

“I made my best possible associates for all times in that program,” she says. “I met them in my first economics course, and we have been associates ever since. I am grateful for my time there.”

Julian says her roles as cake decorator and director of training are “very separate worlds,” however she approaches them with the identical mentality.

“It doesn't matter what I am engaged on, I am at all times placing my best possible on the market, and I acquired seen for that effort and ability. On the CCLA, I am now the director of the training program, however I began off as an intern. With the truffles, I used to be simply doing it on the facet, and now I am on Netflix.”

Whereas Julian has at all times loved baking, her curiosity in cake adorning started in 2007 when the movie star Israeli-American pastry chef, Ron Ben-Israel, appeared on The Martha Stewart Present.

“He was making a sugar orchid for considered one of his very elaborate marriage ceremony truffles,” Julian remembers. “I felt like I might try this, so I boldly wrote to him and mentioned, ‘I need to be taught what you do’ – and he was good sufficient to jot down me again.”

Ben-Israel supplied tips about the place to take classes, and Julian began practising. A request for an Air Jordan high-top sneaker cake was her first foray into the world of hyper-realistic truffles.

“My husband occurs to be a sneakerhead, and I needed actually badly to impress myself but additionally him by making it as reasonable as doable,” she says. “I dove into the problem – made the shoelaces textured, shined up the patent leather-based on the shoe – and I acquired a terrific response from it. I used to be hooked from that time on. I am observant and good at replicating particulars, so it’s a superb match when it comes to my pure ability set.”

Julian doesn’t know the place her cake-decorating journey will lead subsequent, however after her Netflix debut, she’s open to any chance.

“It [being on Is it Cake?] compelled me to do one thing completely different that I might by no means performed earlier than,” she says. “It’s a threat that paid off big for me, so it is taught me that possibly I must take put myself on the market a bit extra and open myself as much as different alternatives that usually I might draw back from.”

She says present U of T college students would possibly profit from stepping out of their consolation zones, too. 

“Do not shut your self off to only being a sensible individual. Comply with the profession path you suppose goes to result in the success you want, nonetheless you outline that success, however permit your self to find time for all of the stuff you care about and are excited by, after which see the place that takes you.”

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