We chatted with Ukrainian architect-turned-chef Dinara Kasko about how she uses 3D design to create out-of-this-world edible creations.
Ukrainian architect-turned-chef Dinara Kasko first found her love for baking at the age of 12 when she created a glorious confection out of cookies, jam, and chocolate. The studious teen fell in love with the art form but instead of forging a career out of her passion, she decided to follow in the path of her engineering parents. However, she never gave up on her first love and when she wasn’t making sketches of buildings, she was making sketches of cakes.
In 2013, when she became pregnant with her first child she left her engineering career and started making videos of herself creating innovative cakes made from molds she created with the help of a 3D printer, which soon caught the attention of Instagram fans.
Ever since, the young mum has been lighting up Instagram with her out-of-this-world bakes. Kasko married her design background and culinary flair to create edible works of art with a range of textures, from jelly to sponge and mousse, that take on incredible shapes, from the geometric to the realistic, such as clouds, origami or sea urchins. Her work has been on show at MoMA in New York and she has also collaborated with brands as far away as Miami and Shanghai.
Kasko sells copies of her 3D-printed molds to fans and has also decided to branch out of Ukraine with the opening of three Dinara Kasko Pastry Art cafes in Qatar, Russia, and the U.S. in the near future, which means that the glamorous chef could be spending just as much time in the air as she does in the kitchen.
We sat down to talk to Kasko about her passion for her work, where it has taken her around the world, and her plans for the future.
When did you decide to make the change from architecture to baking?
I wouldn’t say I’ve completely switched from architecture to baking. I still use 3D design to create my molds and I’ve blended my artistic background with my baking skills.
When I was working as an architect, I would bake after work and on weekends. I would use my holiday to take master classes in France and Spain and rush home from work to complete my baking ideas. However, it was physically impossible to keep up with both. It was only when I became pregnant and took maternity leave that I had time to fully dedicate myself to baking.
How does travel inspire your work?
The first thing is the taste. When I visit different countries, I immediately try the local food. I can get inspired by a combination of ingredients that I taste in a dish or the dish itself. And of course, I bring some of those ingredients home. It can definitely influence what I create.
Tell us about a country that has had an impact on your creativity.
France. I have visited Paris multiple times. The first time I went there was when I won first place at a pastry contest. I took so many different pastry tools and ingredients back to the Ukraine with me. I found this trip really inspiring and it encouraged me to continue my path in pastry. I also took part in a masterclass in Versailles led by pastry chefs Nicolas Boussin and Angelo Musa. It was an amazing course; everything was super delicious.
What’s the most unique ingredient you have worked with and why?
An ingredient that sounds the most unique to me is the cactus flower. For a Ukrainian, or any European for that matter, it is very hard to imagine what cactus flowers would even look like, let alone how they can be used in food. However, nowadays we have access to every imaginable ingredient. We actively use purees of fruit that do not grow in Ukraine, such as lychee, mango, passion fruit, coconut, even cactus flower, and yuzu.
What is your best tip for traveling?
You need to be inventive. And the more you travel, the better it is for you.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city?
It definitely depends on the goals of my trip. When I get off an airplane, I usually try to find a Wi-Fi connection. If I am traveling for work and everything is planned for me and don’t need to worry about working out how I can get to the hotel, I will spend time reading about the cities and countries that I am visiting. I love to study and find out about a country’s history.
What has been your biggest travel disaster?
My biggest disaster happened in Spain, where we had to make a presentation for a famous brand. I was invited to Madrid to hold a presentation for 20 top Spanish journalists. While I flew to Madrid, my suitcase did not. It was a real nightmare as all of my ingredients and molds were inside. We had two days to collect all the ingredients and tools that I needed. Luckily, the people in Spain who had bought molds from my website let me borrow them. It was a real race for survival, but eventually, we made it and the presentation went really well.
What are your plans for this year?
I am actually opening my very first store in Doha, Qatar and I couldn’t be more excited and honored. This is a very important step in my life and Doha has been a truly fortunate choice for me. This city celebrates modern architecture in its every form with architects Zaha Hadid, I. M. Pei, Jean Nouvel – to name just a few.
Not only is the environment inspiring, but Doha is also a renowned international gastronomy hub. All in all – an ideal combination for what I do. After Qatar, I will be opening a café in Moscow, Russia, and Boston in the U.S.