Avery Fuller’s baking skills got national recognition this summer when she won the National Baking & Pastry Arts Competition for FCCLA. Her teachers filmed her baking at the Pelham High School kitchen because the competition was virtual, and since the judges couldn’t judge the competition on taste, they did so on presentation and sanitation plus a test about baking and pastry arts. Avery wanted to be sure to thank her teachers Chef Doug Allen and Alexander Arceo, who she says were there every time she practiced and to help her setup and clean up on competition day. “I learn from them every day,” she says. Here’s what else she shared about the experience.
How did you learn to bake and develop a passion for it?
My nana has a cake business in Livingston, Alabama, so ever since I was little I would cook with her and at home with my mom. My aunt now carries on the cake business and owns Deep South Cake Company, which was in Alabaster for a year and now is in Orange Beach. I didn’t get interested in baking until middle school when I was in FCCLA and started taking cooking classes. I started doing FCCLA competitions in middle school and continued throughout high school.
What all did you bake during the National Baking & Pastry Arts Competition?
I had to ice and decorate a cake, and I assembled it on the video. It had to have a border piped on it, and buttercream roses, which I learned the night before. And then I had to make chocolate eclairs and Challah bread rolls, like a sweet bread roll. And then I made blueberry scones with a lemon glaze. I had three hours, but I finished in under that. I practiced each recipe at least once. But I never made them all at once, so I didn’t know if I would make time. The cake was the most stressful because I like to have plenty of time to do it so it looks perfect, but it turned out.
How did your classes at school prepare you for the competition?
As a freshman I took Hospitality, which gives you an overview of the culinary industry and teaches you measuring units and knife skills. And then I took Culinary I my sophomore year, and junior year I took Baking and Pastry, which is typically a senior class. In that class we baked and decorated multiple cakes, so I have learned a lot about different flours, leavening agents, what makes cakes rise and sink. I have really enjoyed that class. This year I’ll take Culinary II, and we will cook more on your own instead of big group projects and come up with our own meals.
What do you like to bake for fun?
I make royal iced shortbread cookies for family and friends. Each time I do it I do something new. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, and I have a recipe from Pinterest I like. It has a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar that you can’t taste.
What else are you involved in, and what’s next for you?
I am also on our Culinary Competition team at school, and we practice twice a week for that. At the Alabama Pro Start competition in May we won first place. We had to compete with two tabletop burners and no other appliances, but we were able to create an appetizer, a main dish and a dessert in an hour. After I graduate, I want to go to Auburn and be in their culinary program. They have a new building that will be complete when I start in the fall of 2022 with a restaurant, hotel, brewery and rooftop garden run by the students.