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Summary of the October 2017 Program w/Cenk Sönmezsoy

  • 08 Feb 2018 8:13 PM
    Message # 5728864
    Maurine Killough (Administrator)

    On October 24th Cenk Sönmezsoy, who writes his Cafe Fernando column out of Istanbul, joined us to promote his book The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker. The Turkish edition was the bestselling cookbook of all time in Turkey. He’s a creative genius; a self-taught baker, photographer, designer, and responsible for every detail of his book. Jennie Schacht and Rachel Boller were in conversation with Cenk to talk about his journey into the baking world and the process of writing his cookbook.

    Cenk came to the US to attend graduate school in San Francisco in the late 1990’s. How did he discover his talents?  He began by baking for himself and his friends and then began to examine what others were doing in the baking world.  While working in tech, his blog, Café Fernando was born in 2006. Cenk felt a blog was a perfect opportunity to continue to develop his skills as a baker and share with others.  His blog has gone on to win numerous awards worldwide. 

    Given that Cenk is from Turkey, folks were quite curious how the name Café Fernando came about.  Apparently, it’s no secret that he is a huge fan of The Golden Girls.  After a long first day in San Francisco that left him tired, aggravated and annoyed, Cenk flopped down on the bed in his hotel room and turned on the TV.  The Golden Girls brought him immediate warmth and comfort. His favorite character, Rose, has a teddy bear named Fernando. Thus, Café Fernando. 

    Everything in Cenk’s cookbook is intentional. Every plate, background or prop has meaning to him. Perhaps something belonged to his grandmother, or a friend wove a fabric, or a gift of a plate from another friend.  

    Cenk has been influenced by mostly American and French recipes.  Bakers he admires are David Lebovitz, Dori Greenspan and Rose Levy Berenbaum. Rachel Boller, who did ALL the recipe testing with Cenk, stated that Flo Braker is her inspiration.  She mentioned how Flo had a way of writing economically, achieving the same results as others but in 1/3 words or less. Jenny Schacht agreed. 

    It is fascinating the passion Cenk has for his baking and what he has shared in his book.  Cenk is meticulous when it comes to testing how long a product will last. He did daily tests to determine shelf life. He must make sure that recipes retain their integrity, not to mention the time a baker will be taking to produce one of his recipes. He feels he owes his readers those details. 

    When asked which recipe is a favorite, Cenk stated, that the roasted strawberry ice cream, despite the extra steps and technique, is worth it.

    It’s no surprise his publisher said that Turkey needs his book even if the rest of the world doesn’t.  The rest of the world does, and we’re glad it is now available. His blog has readers from 212 countries. So wonderful to have his book that’s full of incredible recipes, beautiful pictures and a whole lot of Cenk’s heart and soul. 

    --Nancy Kux, Bakers Dozen President

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