Ben Orkin is a 17 year old (his birthday is next week, Happy Birthday, Ben!) food blogger from Cape Town, […]
Ben Orkin is a 17 year old (his birthday is next week, Happy Birthday, Ben!) food blogger from Cape Town, South Africa. I don’t know how I stumbled upon Ben’s Kitchen Blog, but his blog is special – beautifully styled photographs of baked goods that I would kill for. I was lucky enough to get Ben to answer some questions; hope you like the interview and visit his website – you will be shocked that this is accomplished by a 17 year old.
How old were you when you started baking? How old when you realized baking was your passion?
I have no idea. I think for as long as I can remember, baking and cooking has always been an important part of my life. I remember when I was a tiny tot, I would go to cookery school in the holidays to learn how to make pizzas and cakes and all kinds of delicious things. It was only recently that I realized that baking was my passion. Maybe two years ago, when I was 15, before my blog was even a thought.
Did you start baking first with your Mom ?
When I first started baking properly, my mom couldn’t bake to save her life. I think that she was scared of making a flop of a cake and embarrassing herself. People tend to think that baking is only for those who have way too much time on their hands and are perfectionists. Baking is not that. It’s about bringing people together and mixing a few simple ingredients to make something great. My mother was, and is, still a very good cook. But now that I’ve been baking a lot, she sees how easy it really is. And so now she can bake things like bran muffins, banana bread and a few basic cakes.
There is a another person in some of your posts, is that your sister? friend?
Do they help you with your cooking or just the photography?
Believe it or not, that person is actually me. I have a tripod and I use it to take shots of myself baking. When I need a hand model I turn to my mom, baby brother or whoever else is around with nice hands. I don’t get any help from anyone. I am the baker, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer. It’s quite a job.
What is your favorite post? 3 favorite recipes?
My favorite post has got to be my Chocolate Pomegranate Layer Cake. I think that it was the first time that I experimented with my photography and styling. My favorite recipes are my Flourless Chocolate Zest Cake, my Challah Bread recipe, and my Grape and Lemon Cake.
Who has influenced you most in the kitchen?
My granny Daphne and her mother Joyce. Their style of cooking has influenced me. They cook and bake without any fuss. They don’t worry about little things like measuring each ingredient to the exact gram, they just throw everything together and the result is always amazing. They know what they are doing.
Does your Mom like to cook?
Yes, she is a very talented cook. I think that she has made food part of my life and who I am. She is always cooking something delicious and has taught me to taste everything. And still to this day, I eat everything except bananas. I just can’t stand the way that they taste.
Tell us about a cooking disaster!
I’ve had lots.Too many to count, actually. I have very little patience and so I often take cakes out of their tins long before they have cooled down. They always end up cracking or sticking to the pan, but I never learn. I just cover the cake with icing sugar and no one knows any different.
What do you like to do when you’re not in school or baking?
Without those two things I don’t know what I would do. Probably blogging or looking on Pinterest for inspiration. I like to read if I can find a good book.
Any baking tips you’d like to share with us?
Baking does involve a little patience, so find something to do with yourself while you wait for your cake to bake or your dough to rise. Also, the key to anything is confidence.
Have you taken any special photography course online that we should know about?
No. I am a self taught photographer. I would love to take a few courses but I don’t have a lot of free time, I can’t exactly drive myself places and they can be expensive.
What kind of camera do you use? Any special lens?
I use a Canon EOS 550D for my blog pictures. I feel like an upgrade is due. I use a iPhone 5s for my instagram posts.
What are your 10 favorite ingredients?
Citrus of any kind, plums, vanilla extract, yeast, salt, rosemary, garlic, cumin, flour, and a pair of clean hands.
If you could sit down and have lunch with one person (in the food blogging community), who would that person be?
That’s a very tough question. I don’t think that I can answer one person. I’d have to say my friend Halyna from sincapfirin.com, Virpi Mickinnon from vanelja.com, Bella Koh from @catslavery, Linda Lomelino from callmecupcake.se, Aran Goyaga from cannellevanille.com and Trish Papadakos from @trishpapadakos.
Lastly, please tell us a random talent you have that we would be surprised to find out!
I am a crafter and always will be. I can sew, knit, paint, mould, weave, you name it I can do it.
Thank you so much for your time, Ben. Looking forward to your future blogging endeavors!