AUSTRALIA’S Queen of Chocolate Kirsten Tibballs put on a right royal show at her first masterclass on the Border.
Hosted by Wodonga TAFE, the MasterChef guest chef instructed keen home cooks and patisserie students in the day-long workshops on Monday and Tuesday.
Workshop participants made chocolate caramel truffles, Crown of Savour tarts and a decadent gateau.
The Border masterclasses came just days after Tibballs’ Mystery Box challenge stunned contestants on reality competitive cooking show MasterChef Australia.
“Creating the Mystery Boxes and making a lifelike object that’s edible was weeks and weeks of work,” she said.
“It was three weeks of working until 1am but it was worth it to see the look on the competitors’ faces.”
Born at Leongatha, Tibballs said she knew from age 8 that she wanted to be a pastry chef and by 12 she had entered her cookery in local agricultural shows.
“My mum worked full-time and was always busy but she let me cook with her,” she said.
“I used to cook dinner and dessert by the time I was 10.
“I was not very well throughout my schooling but I did cake decorating lessons from 12 and my mum used to sit with me to do that.”
Having gained a pastry chef apprenticeship at Mornington by 15, Tibballs said she started her shift at 2am and often worked 18-hour days.
“Dad would drop me to work at 2am and then be up again at 7am for his own job,” she said.
“Mum picked me up at 5pm but some days we’d do three, eight-hour shifts with a nap on the mat in the bakery in between.
“I still loved it; I know it fast-tracked me picking up all of my patisserie skills and learning.”
At 20 Tibballs joined Sheraton Towers Hotel in Melbourne before she won the Australian Baking Scholarship Award, which allowed her to work with pastry chefs in Paris and Brussels.
In 2002 Tibballs founded the Melbourne-based Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School.
The Crown of Savour – a shortcrust tart with a crunchy almond base, vanilla rose cream and Swiss meringue sticks – was a highlight of the Wodonga masterclass.
Tibballs urged home chefs to use a microwave to temper chocolate.
“Always use the microwave on high in 30-second increments until you have 50 per cent liquid and 50 per cent solid mixture, then stir the chocolate vigorously,” Tibballs said.
Wodonga TAFE events students styled the work space for the masterclasses and ensured their professional management.