News: Every cake tells a story; a look behind culinary excellence
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - Artists tend to use several different utensils and materials to display their masterpieces. Sometimes, it’s a sketch on paper, a painting on canvas or chalk on a sidewalk, but what about a cake?
For Kaori Nohara, Club Iwakuni chef, a sheet of cake instantly becomes a canvas for her to create a colorful and delicious masterpiece.
For nearly 8 years, Nohara has spent her time baking, cutting and decorating several types of pastries.
“When I was younger, I did a lot of baking and I loved it,” said Nohara. “Eventually, it developed into a sense of destiny. It felt like baking was something I had to do.”
Nohara bakes everything from cookies to brownies, and not just for the grand buffet held in the Club Iwakuni, but for JD’s Grill and the Landing Zone as well. Added to that, she manages to complete approximately 15 cakes a week.
“A piece of my heart goes into every cake I make,” said Nohara.
Not only do the positive customer reviews reflect her performance as a magnificent baker, but her professionalism around her co-workers shows just how much she enjoys baking.
"After all my years in the Marine Corps as food service, I have never had a baker that put their heart and soul into everything they do like she does," said John Bass, Club Iwakuni catering manager. "The most impressive thing about Kaori is that she is self-taught. She read tons of books and worked with some of the chefs toward perfecting her art."
Although baking is Nohara’s passion, her true skills flourish once it's time to put the icing on the cake.
Nohara touched on the fact that she does all of her cake decorations without stencils or edible paper. Everything is done by hand.
According to Bass, Nohara once decorated a cake to look exactly like a drawing of Michael Jackson provided by the customer.
Once Nohara finishes decorating her culinary masterpieces, she pulls out her phone and does the same thing for every cake she makes: takes a picture.
“I take photos of my cakes for two reasons,” said Nohara. “First, I’m able to provide examples for future customers. Second, it gives me that sense of accomplishment.”
Whether it's for someone's birthday, wedding or the Marine Corps birthday ball, Kaori Nohara willingly accepts the challenge with a smile, because for her, it's a piece of cake.