Inuvik's teen 'Cake Boss' wins gold medal at national skills competition
'I ran up there with the flag and stood on the podium... it was an amazing feeling'
A teen from Inuvik, N.W.T., concocted two loaves of bread, six buns, 15 cookies, 10 eclairs and tartlets, and one special occasion cake this weekend — all in just seven hours.
Friends and family her "Cake Boss" — a reference to the popular TLC television series — and Karis DeKwant used her sweet skills to win a national title.
At just 16 years old, she's the gold medalist in the baking category at Skills Canada National Competition — the largest and only national, multi-trade and technology competition for students across Canada.
"I just gave it all I had," said DeKwant, who says she was "absolutely shocked" when her name was called.
"I ran up there with the flag and stood on the podium, and it was an amazing feeling."
Long-distance training and cake business
DeKwant's love for baking came from home, after spending lots of time in the kitchen with her mother.
In Grade 9, her teachers noticed her talents and encouraged her to compete.
"I was like, 'well, might as well give it a shot,' and it got me all the way to territorials," said DeKwant. That year, she missed the territorial title by just half a point.
She tried again in Grade 10, and placed sixth at the national competition.
That's when DeKwant decided to "push [herself]" and reached out to her now-mentor and baking coach, Alan Dumonceaux.
"She's worked really hard, being in such a remote location in Canada and not having much around her," said Dumonceaux, the national chair of baking for Skills Canada.
"I would say you need to improve this, do this, let's change this.That's how I was able to coach her from a distance."
Dumonceaux, a decades-long baker and cook, says he's looking forward to seeing how DeKwant will grow for the next competition.
"She can go back and repeat as a winner, potentially," he said. "That would be exciting for her."
DeKwant says she prepared by doing "intense baking" sessions after school way into the evenings. She also said having her own cake business, which she's run since last year, has helped her train and gain skills.
With files from Wanda McLeod, Jamie Malbeuf