Driven to Win: Chef Gracie Black Takes the Prize in Hilton F1 Cake Competition
Growing up with her Grandma always in the kitchen working on wedding cakes really inspired Gracie Black to pursue patisserie. “I’ve always looked up to my grandma and how talented she was and I’m so proud to be following in her footsteps.” Born and raised in Kent, Gracie made the bold decision to venture into the bustling city of London in pursuit of her culinary career. After completing her Level 3 patisserie qualification, she joined the Hilton Metropole as Commis Pastry Chef a year ago.
In honor of Hilton's partnership with McLaren Racing since 2005, and in celebration of the team's is 60th anniversary, Hilton challenged all UK chefs to create a helmet cake. The winning cake was to be featured at the British Grand Prix party on the rooftop of the HGI Silverstone on Saturday 8th July with Paris Hilton and F1 driver Lando Norris.
Beating out tough competitors, Gracie nabbed the top spot on the podium with her silver helmet cake inspired by the history of the McLaren achievements. We chat with Gracie about her win.
Gracie, congrats!! You made such a cool cake, how did you come up with the idea?
Taking inspiration from McLaren's 60 year history, we themed our cake around some of the team's greatest F1 achievements. McLaren is the only F1 team to win the Triple Crown. Although not an official prize, this is widely recognised by the extensive fan base as one of the highest and most difficult accolades to be awarded, so this became our overarching theme.
Our cake acts as a timeline of the greatest moments in McLaren’s early years. On top of the cake sits Bruce McLaren’s first F1 racing helmet what he wore in 1968, paying tribute to the creator of this team. We thought it only fitting to recreate the iconic helmet that started it all and place it next to the current McLaren logo, honouring the team and its creator, bringing together the past and the present. Being the second oldest team in the F1 circuit Bruce McLaren was one of the first to pave the way for the future of F1 racing and so this helmet is widely recognised within the F1 community as a symbol to where it all began.
The sides of the cake are adorned with the McLaren livery the team are using to celebrate the winning of the Triple Crown and the 60th anniversary of the teams creation; white, papaya orange, and black. These colours are referencing the cars that won the Triple Crown in the; Indy 500 in 1974, the Monaco grand prix in 1984 and the 24 hours in Le Mans in 1995. Along these colours we have illustrated these tracks; fans widely consider to be the most challenging for an F1 driver to complete. Placing them in order of their winning, completing the timeline of McLaren’s extremely successful past at the year 1995.
Although we could’ve continued naming the team’s extensive accolades in our timeline we felt it best to honour the past and let it foreshadow the team’s inevitable success in the future.
Love all the research you've done and your attention to detail! How long did it take you to come up with the design and actually create the cake? Did everything go to plan, or were there some mishaps you had to overcome?
I designed the cake over a span of about 2 weeks, working on it intermittently. During that time, I also conducted extensive research on F1 and McLaren to gather as much information as possible. We had to make a few logistical changes to ensure the feasibility of the cake. The actual process of making the cake, from start to finish, took 5 days.
With your "pole position" after winning the cake competition, what's next and your long-term vision?
This win has really fueled my ambition! I'm dedicated to honing my craft at the Hilton Metropole, learning more about pastry and creating more cakes and desserts on a grand scale. One day, I would love to establish my own patisserie.
Quickfire with Gracie What is your morning routine?
On a day off, my morning routine includes waking up around 9am, grabbing a cup of tea, opening the windows, and reading for a bit while listening to vinyl on my record player. What do you do for self-care?
My main form of self-care is reading. On a laid-back day off, if I'm not occupied with other tasks, I can easily read about 2 books in a day. Some of my favourites include 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell, 'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott, and 'Normal People' by Sally Rooney. What is your favorite thing to bake?
My favourite thing to bake has always been macarons. I enjoy the challenge of perfecting them and constantly experimenting with new flavour combinations. Name the three baking tools you can't live without?
A set of scales, a sharpie, and an offset palette knife. What is an easy but impressive dessert anyone can make?
An impressive dessert that anyone can make has to be a poached pear frangipane tart! It's a simple classic and always leaves a lasting impression, click here for a great recipe.