Sebastien Haramendy from Un Cupcake I'Addition.
Couture Cakers International Sugar Art Collaboration is hosted by Heba M Elalfy of Sweet Dreams by Heba. This is the fourth annual celebration of couture using all types of sugar medium as created by an international team of Sugar Artists. The theme this year is Islamic / Hijabi Bridal Dresses.
For the next few days I will be interviewing sugar artists who are participating in the collaboration.
Here is my interview with Sebastien Haramendy.
Tell me about yourself. How long have you been decorating? How did you learn to decorate? Do you decorate professionally? Have you taught any cake decorating classes? Have you competed in any competitions?
My name is Sébastien. I’m a French food blogger with a weird obsession: cupcakes. In 2012, I created a blog called « Un Cupcake, l’Addition ! », where I shared my best cupcake recipes. I came to cake design a year later after Pedro León taught me all his sugar paste secrets. I won cupcake best in class in my very first competition with my very first modelled cupcakes, in Expo Tarta in Madrid. I won a few medals since then, in Spain, in France and more recently in the UK. But my pride are my three gold medals at Cake International including a best in class in London and a second best in class in Birmingham. In 2018 I ranked among the Top Ten Cake Artists for France although I like to call myself a « cupcake designer »!!! I also was a finalist for both Cupcake and Best Cover Cake Masters Awards. More recently, I competed in the French version of « Bake Off: The Professionals » and gave cooking advice on a French radio show called « A Glimpse into the Fridge ».
I don’t consider myself as a professional as cupcakes don’t pay for my bills. I have a regular daily job and cupcake design is above all a passion, although I am beginning to teach and judge competitions.
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Tell me about your design.
There are all sorts of sugar collaborations going on around the Internet all year long. There are so many exiting themes you could be working 24/7 on collaborations and your imagination would still be craving for more!
But the real thrill is to participate in collaborations “off the beaten tracks”, collaborations that pushes you to explore and learn, challenge your imagination and take you out of your comfort zone. And when our collaboration host announced the theme of the 2020 Couture Cakers collaboration was “Islamic bridal dresses with hijab”, I thought it was waaaay out of my comfort zone! I was especially worried because I didn’t want to disrespect anybody on something as serious as religion and wedding.
All credit for this photograph goes to ‘Ahmed Rajeep Photography’.
I searched the web for inspiration and I came across the unconventional – and breathtaking – work of an Egyptian photographer, Ahmed Rajeep. When I saw his rainbow bride and bridesmaids, I knew this would be my inspiration. Plus those oh-so-bright colors are so joyful and remind me of the rainbow after the storm as well as the peace and pride flags.
I like to give my creations meaningful names and I wanted it to be of Arabic origins, hopefully from Egypt, like the photograph. So I asked our adorable collaboration host for authorization to name my bride after her. Her name is beautiful and finds its origin in “Hebbat'ullah”, meaning “Gift from God”. She agreed!
That’s how Heba, my rainbow hijabi bride, was born.
Favorite stories about your pieces.
Back in 2010, the cupcake trend was barely sticking its nose in France. I bought two dozens cupcakes in a new bakery to surprise my guests for my birthday. I was mesmerized by these little cakes and their countless possible flavors and shapes… But I remember thinking “hey, I can do better!” Well I did not… Not for my first attempt at least! My cupcakes were so terrible no one would eat them… not even the pigeons I tried to feed with!!!
Of course, I tried and tried and tried again and now I can bake edible cupcakes. I even majored as a pastry chef in 2017! And this is how the cupcake fever began.
Who is your favorite Harry Potter character? If you went to Hogwarts, which house would you want to be sorted into? Which house would you actual be sorted into? If you were a teacher at Hogwarts, what class would you want to teach? What would your Patronus be?
I am not sure I have a favorite Harry Potter character even if I’m a fan of the saga… At least not any of the three main characters. I’d say maybe Severus, but maybe it’s because I love Alan Rickman. Or Sirius Black. Out of the saga, I feel pretty identified (and like a lot) Newton Scamander.
Which house?! I’d be a male Beauxbatons I guess! Plus the academy is supposed to be situated close to my place, in the Pyrennées Mountains.
My patronus would probably be a cat. Independent, cunning, giving away very controlled amount of affection. Or maybe a fox. I absolutely love foxes and would have loved to welcome one in my family (if it wasn’t a wild protected animal, of course). I always pictured this animal as the missing link between far too clingy dogs and way too independent cats. As a joke that still makes me smile, I said once that my patronus was this possum:
Who is your favorite Star Wars character? Which Star Wars movie is your favorite? Do you have a favorite Star Wars TV show or book? If you were living in the Star Wars universe – what would you want to be Jedi, Sith, Rebel, Imperial, Resistance, Smuggler, Bounty Hunter…?
I’m not sure I’m a huge Star Wars fan. Well… I’ve seen all the movies quite a few times… a few of them in premiere, binged watched the Mandalorian, am totally in love with the child. Well… I guess I am a Star Wars fan. Favorite characters…??? Chewbacca!!! I quite like Solo and Dameron too… And loved Leia in the last trilogy (I didn’t like her much in the original trilogy, though).
I would never become a Jedi… the Jedi Council would know I would join the dark side in a blink.
Do you have a favorite Disney movie? Do you have a favorite Disney character? What is your favorite thing to watch on Disney+? Have you been to any of the Disney parks? Do you have a favorite ride? Do you have a favorite story about a trip or experience at one of the Disney parks?
Favorite Disney movie?! Ooooh… Hard choice… I used to think Disney couldn’t top Aladdin and the Lion King… Until came Ratatouille, such a fantastic movie. And I was very moved by Coco which was in my opinion the cleverest Disney movie ever ticking all the boxes: humor, music, culture, taught values, message, images, etc.
Favorite character… I love Remy… But he is not the funniest… I’d go for Dory, Mushu or Iago. They were so funny. And I love King Louis especially for his song in the Jungle Book, which was and still is fantastic.
Oh… And keep Frozen far far far away from me… sorry!
Disney Parks?! Well… I of course have my yearly pass at Disney Paris. My favorite ride is probably Nemo’s Crush's Coaster.
Do you have a favorite superhero? What is your favorite superhero movie? If you read comics, what is your favorite comic or run on a comic? If you could be any superhero, who would you want to be? If you could have one super power, what would it be?
I was a big big big fan of Friends… So my favorite super hero can be no other than Paul Rudd in Antman. I was so happy to see him cast for the role. Plus he is perfect in it. He’s funny, down-to-earth, a normal guy one can easily identify to. And he has baddass powers and outfit. OH, and he is friends with an ant called Ant-thony!!! Ant-thony!!! What’s not to like about all this?!
I also quite like Star-Lord, for basically the same reasons, his humour, baddass outfit, kind of – a little less – next door guy… and he can hold an infinity stone IN-HIS-BARE-HAND!!!
Do you have a favorite cartoon series or character? What was your favorite cartoon to watch when you were little? Would you prefer live in Bedrock with the Flintstones or in the future with the Jetsons?
I can’t tell… That makes me sound old… Oh OK… I loved all the cartoons in general, Warner, Hanna-Barbera, Tex-Avery… I especially liked Scooby-Doo, Captain Caveman, Tom & Jerry, Tex-Avery’s wolf, Wile Coyote, etc. I also enjoyed a lot Ulysses 31, Thundercats, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and I had a passion for The Mysterious Cities of Gold (I still think it is a fantastic series). Oh… And I am also known as アトム (ATOMU) since my coworkers in Japan (I worked in Japan) discovered my passion for Tezuka Osamu’s Astroboy.