PHOTO: A ‘Moana’-inspired cake with three layers of chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream is baked by student-chef, sophomore Daphne Gunn, for a client’s birthday party.
By Paige Ochoa,
Since birth, sophomore Daphne Gunn was destined to be a chef–her first few words were “banana,” “cracker’ and “yay,” for when she got her food.
Ever since she can remember, she has been in love with everything about cooking. Experimenting with different cooking skills and trying out all sorts of recipes, Gunn has always been a natural in the kitchen.
“There hasn’t been a time in my life where I didn’t cook…I started making my own recipes before I could form words,” Gunn said.
Although not initially inspired from anything in particular, Gunn’s parents encouraged her passion for cooking from a young age, helping her get her feet off the ground.
When Gunn was first learning the ins-and-outs of cooking, her father worked alongside her, assisting the young chef.
“He was the supervisor when I was young because a four-year-old handling the stove and knives could be dangerous unsupervised,” Gunn said, laughing.
In addition to making recipes that other bakers have come up with, Gunn struck an interest in experimenting with different ingredients in order to invent some recipes of her own.
“I had a pretty good knack for finding what flavors complement each other nicely,” Gunn said. “There were still definitely some gross recipes that I made when I was younger.”
This did not stop the ambitious young chef.
As an 11-year-old, Gunn was determined to attend an expensive culinary camp. In order to earn enough funds, she devised a business plan to sell baked goods and desserts. Within the first month, she had already earned a thousand dollars.
“It might not seem like a lot, but for an elementary kid it totally was. I was pretty proud,” Gunn said.
Besides attending the camp, Gunn was able to spend these earnings on a professional KitchenAid mixer, as well as her own private chef to help her learn traditional french methods and general knife skills to master cooking, rather than just baking.
“The cooking classes that were for my level were for people way older than me, and the classes for my age were way below my skill level,” Gunn said.
Working with a private instructor, Gunn was able to push herself and her skills in order to become a more mature and experienced chef.
Although she learned more advanced techniques alongside a professional cook, on a daily basis, Gunn cannot stand baking with other people.
“I like to be by myself and do things my way, and having other people in the kitchen stresses me out,” Gunn said.
Though working with others in the kitchen stressed Gunn out at times, cooking has also brought relief to the other teenage stresses in her life.
“Baking and cooking is my sanctuary, like it totally calms me down so even if I’m stressed about an order, I get immediately calmed down when I start working on it,” Gunn said.
Even though she is unable to pinpoint a reason for her initial interest in cooking, at the age of eight, Gunn discovered famous chef, Julia Child, and instantly idolized her.
“I can’t describe how much I love her…I studied her and her [cook]books and made lots of her recipes,” Gunn said.
In addition to inspiring the young chef’s cooking ambitions, Child also inspired Gunn in her future plans.
“I have savings to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Paris where Julia, my idol, went after high school,” Gunn said, smiling. “It’s the best culinary school in the world, and I’m really excited for my future.”