The release of Birthday Cake Sparkle inspired us to talk to someone who knows their way around a beautiful dessert. Enter Venessa Liang, a pharmacist and dessert creator who appeared on The Food Network’s Great Chocolate Showdown. We talked to Venessa about the importance of family, culture, community, and balance in her life. This is one of our sweetest profiles yet. You’re going to want to get to know her.
What inspired you to have a blended career as a pharmacist and also a dessert creator?
It sort of just happened that way! I never planned to become a pharmacist when I was younger and I definitely never envisioned creating cakes and chocolate the way I do now. Although, I must say, I’ve truly found two amazing passions that I can’t live without. I would never give one up for the other because I want my cake and to eat it too!
How long does it take you to create a cake?
This one definitely depends on what kind of cake I am making but in a simple answer - it takes days!! From creating fillings, buttercream and cakes to designing and decorating - it is a serious juggle to finish everything in a timely manner AFTER working a 40 hour week.
How do you balance all the aspects of your life; your two careers, your family, and your social life?
There’s a reason why my husband calls me HURRICANE VENESSA. I don’t think I’m that perfect overachiever that has everything balanced. If anything, I’ve learned that trying to do everything, accomplish everything and be happy with everything is NOT sustainable long term. It can take a strain on both your physical and mental health and then permanently break that “balance” we’re all trying to achieve. Lately, I’ve tried to focus on being content with “smaller” goals within each pillar that is important to me. So instead of trying to attain perfection in every aspect of my life (which yes, I can’t believe I’ve tried to do this for so long), I focus on being proud of the small wins! Putting less pressure on myself to reach my own expectations is a huge part of being content with where I am in all the aspects of my life.
“Putting less pressure on myself to reach my own expectations is a huge part of being content with where I am in all the aspects of my life.”
We love how much you feature your family on your Instagram! Why are weekly family dinners so important to you?
Our Chinese culture’s love language is and has always been food! While saying “I love you” and showing emotion to each other as a family was NOT a norm in our day to day, dinner together was always a must. No matter what happened, we always sat down to eat together at the end of the day. Now that we are separated into different towns and cities, we set aside our Mondays once a week to spend that quality time together. Many people may think we put too much effort into our food life but enjoying scrumptious Chinese food is something that we all relate to and enjoy immensely. Furthermore, sharing my culture and our food with society was never something that I did - for fear of judgement and frankly, racism. Since it’s 2022, I believe that there is no room for discrimination and no one should feel embarrassed by what they are eating - especially when what we’re eating is SO DELICIOUS! I find joy in sharing and providing education about my culture, and I hope to inspire others to be more open and adventurous when they think of Asian cuisine.
Tell us about a woman who has inspired you, or does inspire you?
One of my greatest inspirations is my grandma! Or, “a poa” as we call her. She is one of the strongest women I know and has been a constant throughout my life. While she may be tiny and adorable, she brings forth an energy so strong that she is a force to be reckoned with. She reminds me that any problems I come to face in my day to day are nothing compared to what she has gone through to make it to today. If grandma can do it, I can do it too.
If you could choose one word to describe yourself, what would you choose and why?
Extravagant. Life is too short to choose the safe and boring option.
“Life is too short to choose the safe and boring option.”
You appeared on The Food Network’s Great Chocolate Showdown. Can you tell us how this came about and what the experience was like on the show?
This one definitely happened out of the blue! You wouldn’t believe it but a casting director messaged me on Instagram and the rest is basically history! The experience was definitely unlike anything I have ever done. It was exhausting, thrilling, fun and debilitating all at the same time. I made great, life long baker friends and I learned SO much about chocolate that put me onto the path I am on today.
Do you have any tips for staying calm while under pressure?
Deep breaths and ramen noodles.
What advice do you have for anyone who is an amateur baker who wants to take their baking to the next level?
1. Practice, practice, practice! Accept that failure is a reality and learn from those mistakes to make yourself better at your craft. I definitely did not become who I am overnight and I have my fair share of failures under my belt too! Was I upset about them at the time? Yes. Am I better at what I do now because of it? Absolutely.
2. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! The “next level” may seem unattainable at the time but sometimes, it just takes a leap outside of your comfort zone to really up your game.
“Accept that failure is a reality and learn from those mistakes to make yourself better at your craft.”
If you were a Sparkle colour, what colour would you be?
Gold! For too long, I hated on anything resembling yellow or gold because it attached me to my race as a Chinese person. Today, I am proud to represent my culture and my ethnicity as I am. I want to be able to show younger generations of myself that our culture is beautiful and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It’s bold, beautiful and “worth its weight in gold”
“I want to be able to show younger generations of myself that our culture is beautiful and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.”