Your past professional experiences can often play an unexpected role in shaping your future career. In this week’s episode of Career Relaunch, Dinara Kasko explains how she used her training as an architect to now create beautiful architectural desserts as a pastry chef. We’ll discuss the importance of persistence, how to get your work noticed, and how to put yourself in a position to get lucky.
In the Mental Fuel® segment, I’ll share a few thoughts on how to leverage your past experiences to create a way forward with your future career ambitions.
Key Career Insights
- Even if you don’t plan to follow a traditional career path built on your educational training, those experiences can still play a part in your career of choice.
- Persistence and patience are so important when you’re trying to get your work noticed. You never know when you’ll turn a corner and gain traction.
- Before moving in a new career direction, consider how you’ll create a clear narrative that gives you a “right to play” in that industry.
Tweetables to Share
- Dinara got her big break when she was featured in SoGood Magazine.
- I discussed the idea of having a “right to play.” You can read more about this topic in this McKinsey article Strategy Under Uncertainty and this Harvard Business Review article on Growth Outside the Core.
At the end of this episode’s Mental Fuel® segment, I recommended you find some way to take one element of your your past experiences to think about how you can leverage your past to open a door to the future. What’s 1 specific element of your past experiences you could use to help you create a unique, “right to play” in the career space you’re trying to enter? Share your actions below!
About Dinara Kasko, Pastry Chef
Dinara Kasko is a Pastry Chef from Ukraine. After graduating from Kharkov University Architecture School and working as an architect, designer, and a 3D visualizer, Dinara started baking some simple cakes & pies, but quickly began creating more complex, architectural cakes, which turned into her passion. She now uses a unique technique of digitally designing her cakes then using a 3D printer to create molds she uses to build those cakes. To check out Dinara’s amazing pastry creations, follower her on Instagram.
A sampling of Dinara Kasko’s creations . . .
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Thanks to General Assembly for Supporting this Podcast
Thanks to General Assembly for sponsoring this episode of Career Relaunch. General Assembly is a pioneer in education and career transformation, specializing in today’s most in-demand skills. Visit GA.co to lean how to boost your career. Use Promo code ‘RELAUNCH‘ for 20% off your 1st class or workshop.
Episode Interview Transcript
Teaser (first ~15s): I’m an ordinary young girl from Ukraine. I’m not a professional pastry chef. Now, they like my work, so they decided to make an article with my work. Also, I think I they gave me a very big chance.
Joseph: Dinara, thank you so much for joining me today on Career Relaunch. I’m very excited to hear about your career and all the work that you’re doing, which is very beautifully done. Could you just get us started by telling us a little bit more about the work you do right now?
Dinara: Now, I’m working a lot with 3D modelling, so I work a lot at my computer. I’m making different models for different new cakes. I have a lot of ideas, so I try to combine this modeling with my cakes. Also, I attended different classes with different great chefs.
Joseph: I would love to hear a little bit more about the cakes that you create. Could you describe that process of the pastries that you’re creating and how you go about it?
Dinara: In general, all that I make are ordinary mousse cakes. You can create the same at home because I work at home too. All cakes were made in my home. I can propose my new forms, new shapes for these cakes, so I’m working a lot with this part – with modelling. These cakes are very traditional French cakes with mousses, with lots of cream and gelatin, ordinary cakes with sponge cake, jelly, with different confit, different fruits, with mousse, with white or black or milk chocolate. I like very traditional taste.
Joseph: I think you and I, when we spoke before, I told you I used to work in the luxury desserts industry myself, and so I know how much work goes into making a single cake. What you’re doing is a very delicate process. It’s incredible to see the art and the architecture that goes into the cakes that you design. Out of curiosity, how long does the process take you from start to finish?
Dinara: It depends on your goal because it can be maybe three hours, but it can take also maybe one month. For example, if I need to print my model, I can print then I can see some mistakes on the model. I need to remodel it and print again, and then I need to cast my silicone mold then make cake inside, and then I need to work also with this recipe which I can put inside.
Joseph: I know you weren’t always a pastry chef. You actually started your career in architecture. I was wondering if you could take us back in time before you were creating these beautiful cakes and pastries and tell us a little bit about your time as an architect and a design visualizer I believe is what it’s called in the Netherlands.
Dinara: Yes, I worked as an architect in this company in some European company for three years. Also, I worked as a designer for the university of my second course I think. I worked, in general, maybe eight years as an architect, but in Ukraine, it’s not very popular and can’t make a lot of money because we have a crisis now. Cakes are more popular now.
I started getting interested in cakes maybe five years ago. I started to attend different classes, and at the same time, I worked as a visualizer in this company, but I realized that to make these cakes is more interesting for me than sitting near my computer and making the same all day. Also, for example, if you work as a visualizer, you can make these models, pictures, different visualizations day-by-day, but you can’t touch this. It’s more important for me to make something that I touch. I like it when I see the result of my work.
Joseph: This is something that I know a lot of people talk about who work in large companies. They’re working on projects, and they’re sitting in front of their computer screens, but they never get a chance to actually see the end result or to actually touch and feel the fruits of their labor. How did you get the idea of creating cakes? How did that come about?
Dinara: Maybe four years ago, I like to make cake after my work in the evening. I spent a lot of time at my kitchen, but it was just my hobby. I have a lot of friends. They came to my home, and we ate these cakes every week I think. Three years ago, I was pregnant, and I stopped my work as an architect, and so I had more time in my kitchen. I spent more and more time with cakes, with different experiments. Every day, it was more and more interesting for me.
Joseph: Do you think that if you had not become pregnant, do you think you still would have pursued this cake passion of yours?
Dinara: Yes. Before my pregnancy, I thought about education, about big schools. I wanted to go to a big, professional academy to learn pastry, but I decided that the pregnancy, the children, and family are more important for me, so I chose my family.
Joseph: How does an architect shift from working in that industry to working in a totally different industry? Can you walk us through how the early days looked for you when you were starting to explore doing this more professionally?
Dinara: Day by day, I made more and more cakes, so I started to attend different classes. I realized that it’s very interesting for me – these textures, colors. It’s very modern – this design, this mousse cake with different glazes, very shiny. Some of these cakes, they look for me like a piece of art, and I saw the great chefs here in Ukraine, and it was amazing for me. I attended classes from different champions from France and Spain and Russia, and I feel like I’m in fairytale because after these classes, I started to makes these cakes with their recipes day by day, every day, every evening. I started to buy different special ingredients, tools, and made different experiments. It was like a big, big hobby, just my passion for my free time.
Joseph: At what point did you realize that this could be more than just a hobby, that other people would become very interested in your work, and that this could become something bigger?
Dinara: In general, maybe two years ago, I made a page in Instagram. I saw that there are a lot of beautiful pictures of beautiful cakes, and there were a lot of chefs. I tried to make something very beautiful with good photos, and after one of the famous magazines saw my work, they proposed for me to make an article for their magazine. For me, it was the main thing in my career, this article in such magazine.
Joseph: How did the magazine find you? The reason why I ask is because there are a lot of people out there. Let’s say they started an Instagram feed, and nobody goes to it. I got an Instagram feed for this podcast, but I might have 200 followers. That’s kind of it right now. Was it just luck that this magazine discovered you? How did they find you or do you know?
Dinara: I think all in my life, it’s like a big luck for me. I’m lucky. I have a friend from Kyiv. She’s named Tetyana, and she has a very big academy in Kyiv. This is my first academy. I was here a lot of times in different classes with different chefs. She proposed for me to send a message to this magazine with my work because she likes my work. I sent messages. I sent maybe five times, but every time, this mail went to spam. It was in October, I decided, ‘Okay, no.’
Joseph: Right, it’s a sign.
Dinara: Yes, it’s a sign. After that, in January, they sent me a message on Instagram, and they proposed for me to make an article for their magazine on how we can combine architecture and pastry. Then I prepared some works or them.
Joseph: So you took the initiative to reach out to them multiple times, and then they finally got back to you at some point.
Dinara: Yes, but after it, I saw that there will be a lot of Russian or Ukrainian chefs after my article because I saw that a lot of people would write to this magazine. If you want to make something, if you want to be famous, if you want people to know your work, you need to write to some magazine, some chefs, or some very important men in this world.
Joseph: Was there anything that was difficult about reaching out to people early on for you, or was that the fairly comfortable activity for you to be sending your pictures off to these magazines?
Dinara: I was scared of course. After Tetyana proposed for me to make a message for this magazine, I didn’t send them any information for maybe three weeks. I was thinking about it.
Joseph: What was scary about that?
Dinara: Because I’m an ordinary young girl from Ukraine, from a small city, and I’m not famous, I’m not a professional pastry chef, how is it possible to see my work in such magazines like this ‘Sogood’? For me, it was impossible in general. Now, they like my work, so they decided to make an article with my work. Also, I think they gave me a very big chance.
Joseph: What do you think has been the most surprising thing about moving from architecture into the world of pastries and desserts?
Dinara: For me it was my popularity because I’m famous now. It’s the most surprising so far.
Joseph: How has your life changed since becoming ‘famous’?
Dinara: In general, I have an ordinary life now, the same life, but I travel a lot, and I have a lot of friends. A lot of people want to contact me to ask me something, to make me some propositions, invite me to different countries, but I try to have an ordinary life like I had before.
Joseph: What do you think has been the most challenging part of this journey for you?
Dinara: Now, I can’t make ordinary cakes. I can’t show my followers just ordinary red or white cake or some of our traditional cakes. I can’t make myself on Instagram. All works need to be beautiful and professional. I can make now only professional things. Also, I need to combine my ordinary work at home with my daughter with this pastry. I need to make something new every day, some new recipes, so I need to combine all.
Joseph: I know that taking care of kids is a full-time job. How do you find the time to invest in creating these beautiful pieces of pastry art? Because I know a lot of people feel like, whether they have kids or not, they have their responsibilities during the day, and they don’t have time to do these other things. How did you create that time for yourself?
Dinara: I have a very short answer. I have night.
Joseph: You just sleep less.
Dinara: Yes, at night. You can work at night. Also, I have a big family, so they usually help me with my daughter. My grandfather can work with my daughter during the day, and I have one or two hours for working. In general, all of our work we do at night.
Joseph: I know that you husband is also involved with the process. Can you tell us a little bit about what he does?
Dinara: He is the biggest part of our process I think. He helps me with photographs, with videos. Also now, he works with my website. Also, he has a lot of different ideas that we make together.
Joseph: One thing that I’m really interested in, just to bring our conversation to a close here, is how did other architects react to you leaving the world of architecture to work in the world of pastries?
Dinara: I have a friend. They are architects too. My best friend, of course they’re proud of me. A lot of people are proud of me, a lot of my friends, but now, you can change your career in any time. If you want to be an architect, okay, but if you want to be in some other profession, you can do it easily. In Ukraine, I think in all the world, you can do it. Why not? Because if you’ll be happy in some other way, you can change your way.
Joseph: Do you have any advice for someone out there who is in a job that maybe they’re not that happy with and is thinking about making a change?
Dinara: You can change your way, you can change your career in any time. Of course you need to make money in your ordinary job for this because you can stop your ordinary work. For example, I can’t be architect today and I can’t be pastry chef tomorrow. You need to change it day by day, so you need to work in two ways. At one time, you can realize that some other profession for you is more interesting. Why not? For example, now, I’m working as a pastry chef. I’m working with cake a lot, but I can change my way. Maybe in five years, I will be dancing or something else. Why not?
Joseph: Right, why not? Finally, before we talk about your current projects, what’s something that you have learned about yourself during this career change?
Dinara: I learned that I can work every day without sleeping if needed, that I have very good family, and they help me a lot. I realized that I have a lot of ideas, and we can change our world. I’m so happy that I can meet a lot of people with this pastry art.
Joseph: I would love to wrap up by talking about your current projects. What’s next for you? As you look ahead, I know you have a lot of different interests, but what does the future look like for you?
Dinara: I want to travel a lot. I want more children. I want to have a bigger family. Also, I want to work with my 3D printer, make new models because we have a lot of sketches, and make new cakes, work a lot with recipes. Also, I want to go to have professional education maybe for two or three months or for one year, to be more professional.
Joseph: I know that a lot of people are asking you for your time right now, and I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today about your journey.
Dinara: No, thank you.
Joseph: Yeah, thank you so much. Dinara, if people want to learn more about your work or if they want to just take a look at some of the beautiful architectural pastries that you’ve created, where can they go to learn more about you?
Dinara: They can find information about me at my website, DinaraKasko.com, or you can find information at my Instagram.
Joseph: I would highly recommend people to check out Dinara’s Instagram feed. It’s absolutely incredible to watch. Also the videos on your website are just amazing pieces of art to witness how these cakes come together. It’s very impressive. I have worked in the dessert industry myself. I have not seen anything like this before. Congratulation in all your great work, and I wish you the best in the future.
Dinara: Thank you very much.