Food Meets Art With Dinara Kasko’s Fantastic Confections
Perhaps the biggest debate in the culinary world boils down to the matter of taste versus the aesthetic appeal of a dish. While many agree that taste overrides look, one cannot discount the fact that the way a dish is presented is equally important; after all, we eat with our eyes first! And no one understands this better than 29-year-old Ukrainian pastry chef Dinara Kasko.
Trained as an architect, who worked largely with 3D visualisation, Kasko decided to apply her design skills to another passion project — baking. In fact, one look at her desserts and you’ll wonder what they’re doing on plates instead of being preserved in glass units in contemporary art museums. Approaching her confections as if they were scale models of buildings, Kasko leverages her knowledge in 3D modelling technologies and applies it to create her individualistic silicone moulds. The finished products bear an uncanny resemblance to diagrammatic models of buildings – but don’t be fooled; her materials may resemble concrete and glass, but are most likely meringue or gelatin. With a keen focus on geometric shapes, her desserts all feature sharp, precise lines, smooth curves and glossy textures, mostly sticking to a clean colour palette of black, white and red, with purple and yellow making occasional appearances.
Employing mathematical principles such as triangulation, the Voronoi diagram and biomimicry, Kasko puts immense thought into each of her creations and constantly strives to innovate by drawing on her past architectural experience. While her focus on outward appearances is apparent, she doesn’t compromise on taste — and the insides are equally clean, with a familiar layering of mousse and ganache, neatly aligned. In order to creatively bring the world of architecture closer to that of patisserie, Kasko has even collaborated with a number of renowned bakers, scientists and mathematicians, including parametric designer Andrej Pavlov, cocoa producer Barry Callebaut and mixed-media artist Jose Margulis, among others, to create some of her most spectacular confections. Whether it’s her chocolate block cake, kinetic tart, bubbles cake, classic vanilla tart, lime-basil triangulation cake or the series of Geometric Desserts (where the confections’ surfaces resemble concrete), each creation is as much an artwork as it is a medley of the best flavour combinations.
On her architectural background “Ever since I was a child, I was interested in different kinds of art. I attended dance classes, took up photography and even finished art school. I have always enjoyed painting and creating things with my hands. Since I was 15, I wanted to study architecture and design. So, after completing my studies, I started working at an architecture company. Cumulatively, I spent eight years working in the field of architecture and design before making the shift to baking.”
On merging baking with architecture “I developed an interest in pastry making about five years ago. First, I practised baking at home. Then, I started attending a variety of baking classes. And some time later, I realised that I enjoyed baking more than architecture. Time goes by so fast when I am in the kitchen thinking about cakes, moulds and recipes! Of course, my education in architecture influences my work to a great extent. I work with different software programmes to create 3D models…and a couple of years ago, I decided to create my own moulds that wouldn’t look like anyone else’s.”
On her baking process “First, I come up with some ideas and then I think about how I can realistically realise them – so, I imagine what my finished product will look like. After that, I create a 3D model on my computer, print it on my 3D printer and then cast it with silicon. Once the mould is ready, I fill it up with the ingredients of my choosing and freeze it well. Once it’s frozen properly, I remove the silicone mould and decorate the cake or tart with glaze.”
On look versus taste “I love all things sweet, and I like when they not just taste good but also look beautiful. Everyone has a unique style, and I have my own as well. I try to create not just cakes; I work on their shape, try to proportion them accurately and create beautiful designs. Effectively, I try to create objects of art. Baking is how I strive for self-realisation as a designer.”
On her most challenging project “It was the 81-piece ruby cake I made for a project for cocoa producer Barry Callebaut, which took me a month and a half! I needed to develop a unique form that would emphasise the unusual and unforgettable taste of ruby chocolate and also a recipe where the pink chocolate would be the main flavour element. Creating the mould was hard, tedious work. I used 3D printing every day to print the models because each piece was a different shape. But the end result turned out really well!”
On what’s on her plate this year “I plan on putting my moulds on sale, labelled under my own brand. I will also be collaborating on a new project with Spanish pastry chef Jordi Bordas, where we will be creating five new moulds and five new recipes. It will be completely unique and innovative!”
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