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Mother, daughter team wins ECGC Bake-off competition

Mother, daughter team wins ECGC Bake-off competition


by Lyf Compton

Ten bakers squared off and when the ovens cooled and the decorating was completed, it was chef Joanne Layne that reigned supreme.

Chef Layne and her assistant (also her daughter) Lydia Balkaran of Ultramarine Villa, Mustique, took the top spots in the 2017 edition of the East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) 40th Anniversary Great Mustique Bake-off Competition.

The competition had three categories, best bread, best cake and overall winner and Layne, with assistance from her daughter, copped the top spot in all three categories, her pizza bread and margarita flavoured cake earning her bragging rights for the third consecutive year.

“It is exciting; I was looking forward to it… I worked really hard, I practised a lot…,” Layne told SEARCHLIGHT’s Lyf Compton, after being announced the winner at the end of the competition in Mustique on Sunday.

Part of Layne’s cake was made in the form of a map of St Vincent, with a recreation of the ECGC building in Campden Park on it, while another part was in the form of the island of Mustique, with a depiction of Colin Tennant, the man who bought Mustique for 45,000 pounds in 1958.

Layne, who has been a chef on Mustique for 11 years, said that she was proud of winning the competition for the third time in a row.

She explained that she learnt to bake from her mom Theresa Small and improved her skills while working in Canouan. She then pursued online studies, after which she went to Atlanta, where she did a three-month course in cake decorating, earning herself a Master’s degree in cake decorating.

Layne explained that her designs saw her working around the theme “It’s a Mustique ECGC Affair for 2017”.

“Working in Mustique and being around the guests, it is always hot weather here, so we

often offer them a lot of margaritas and they really enjoy them, so that is where my idea came from in making a margarita cake, because we had to work within the theme,”explained Layne.

Originally from Yambou, but now residing in Belair, Layne said that her daughter and assistant, Lydia, has worked with her for a long time and they even work together at the Ultramarine in Mustique, so they mesh well.

Her words of encouragement to aspiring bakers are, “it takes a lot of practice and you must be patient, because you have to have patience in order to do it and you have to love what you do… you can’t do it because of the money alone; you have to love it and have passion for it and you are going to make it”.

She said that once allowed, she will continue to compete. She was rewarded with EC$3,000 and two airline tickets for winning the overall competition, EC$1,000 for winning the cake category and EC$500 for winning the bread category.

Second place overall winner and second place in the bread category Ronnie Browne of Jacaranda Villa, presented a herb and garlic bread and what he described as a celebration cake, which was made in the likeness of a steel pan and a guitar.

“I wanted to create a celebration, seeing that now is Carnival, plus the celebration of ECGC and its anniversary. Anniversaries are like celebration,” said the Greiggs-born Richland Park resident, who thinks that “ECGC has the best flour”.

Browne, who started his cooking career at the Chicken Roost restaurant in 1989 and furthered his career at restaurants like Vee Jays, Manna Restaurant and at the Young Island Resort, said that he had his eyes on first place.

“I feel very happy, but I was looking for the first,” said Browne, who once worked on a Royal Caribbean cruise liner and at the Raffles Resort, Canouan and also started the Life Saver Café in the Kingstown Vegetable Market.

Browne was assisted by Latoya Lewis. He was rewarded with EC$2,000 for placing second overall and EC$375 for placing second in the bread category.

Third place overall was Sabrina Marks-Dacent. She was rewarded with EC$1,000.

“I am really excited, it was a lot of hard work and I am really happy,” said Marks-Dacent, who owns and operates Plum Tree Catering (established in 2012).

She said that she has been in the ECGC competition for the last four years and has won in the various categories over the years.

“This is a fantastic competition,” said Marks-Dacent, who was assisted by her mother Ranju Sadhuram.

The second placed cake category winner was Zoe Millington of Canon Cakes. She was assisted by Sharifa Smith.

Millington told SEARCHLIGHT that this is her fifth time in the competition and she placed four times before. She explained that her cakes were made with six of ECGC’s flour brands and as a result, she had six different recipes, made with the normal white easy bake flour, the whole-wheat flour and the four speciality flour brands (Herb and Garlic, Multigrain, Rye and Pumpernickel).

“I feel good; it was really stressful and I had little hiccups along the way, but I did well. It was about finding the right ingredients to go with the flour, because each flour has different components and so the tricky part was in finding the right ingredient to match with each flour,” explained Millington.

She said that she has loved the kitchen ever since she was a young girl and she has been baking for seven years.

She encourages young bakers, “go for it, once you have the love and the passion, get the equipment and start testing recipes, that’s the only how. It’s always going to be trial and error; the best makes mistakes, so you have to find out what you good at”. She received EC$1,000.

The other participants were Tecla Lee of Clonsilla Villa, assisted by Peter Ollivierre; Kettline Williams of Impressive Cakes, assisted by Racquel Foye; chef Saverin Samuel of Palmyra Villa, assisted by Luvena Castello; chef Shorne Johnson of Palm Beach Villa, assisted by Mary Forde; Jessica Bess of Bess Catering Services, assisted by daughter Daniel Bess; and twins Janine John and Janelle John of Camo’s Local Cuisine.

The two-day event (May 20 to 21), which was held at the Mustique Community Centre, was videotaped and a three-part series will be televised in June.