Can you tell us about your background for our readers?
My name is Kirsten Tibballs, aka “The Chocolate Queen” and I am the founder of Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School, operating since 2002.
I am most known for my desserts and chocolates and you might have caught me on MasterChef Australia. Throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to travel the globe teaching French patisserie to aspiring students. I have also been fortunate enough to publish two cookbooks, be a regular contributor to pastry publications and feature in my own show “The Chocolate Queen” aired on SBS Australia.
In between my crazy schedule, I film weekly video tutorials on Savour Online Classes, my online cooking platform, teaching the ins and outs of chocolate and patisserie to a wide audience of budding bakers.
What is the best gift you’ve received? What do you think is the best gift you’ve given?
The best gift by far is an antique confectionary cookbook that unbeknownst to me, my husband had been searching for years to find. Somehow, he managed to secure a first edition copy from the US, originally printed in 1856. He gave it to me as a surprise and it is still one of my most treasured gifts and memories. I think what was most special about the gift was it was something I didn’t know I wanted, but he knew me well enough to know I’d adore it!
What is something that you did last year, or hope to do this year, around the gift of giving?
Not being able to see my extended family was terribly difficult during 2020, so I jumped to the number one tool I use to connect with people – Sweet treats. To celebrate my sister’s birthday, I baked identical cakes and delivered them to each member of my family including my sister. We all lit candles at the same time via zoom and indulged in slices of birthday cake. This was one of the best ways we could share an experience and still celebrate occasions whilst apart.
How do you try to be a generous person?
Generosity is not always about materials; it can be about being generous in time spent with others and the time you share. I try to be a generous person in all that I do, whether it’s doing something unexpected for a friend or taking the time to offer little pieces of advice for aspiring patisserie chefs.
What is the best gift of advice that you have received?
“When you stop learning, you should retire in your field or profession” – I don’t remember who told it to me, but it has always stood out for me and been something I have always adhered to.
Another important insight I have learned in my time is that food is not always about fuelling the body. Food can give people so much pleasure, joy and satisfaction if you are passionate about what you create.
If someone could give you any gift in the world, what would it be?
Wow this is a big question, I think it would be to protect the environment. What we sometimes take for granted is believing it will be there forever - It will not if we don’t start nurturing it. Earth is the biggest gift we have been given and we need to look after it.
Why do you think gifting is important?
Have you ever watched the glee and excitement as someone unwraps a gift to have a look of pure delight on their face as they reveal the hidden treasure? It is the act of thinking about someone else and putting in effort and time to please someone special. It is not always easy to find the perfect gift, but it is the kindness of the action, caring and effort to make a loved one feel nurtured that’s what’s most important. Spontaneous gifts are the best when someone is not expecting them, the gift for no reason.
How do you think the act of gift-giving will change in the future?
The gift of an experience or holiday – it extends the occasion by giving someone a gift that they can enjoy in the future rather than something immediate. This also allows you to reach out to a loved one even if you can’t see them in person.