Cake Wars Champion and Graffiti Carving founder visits MCCTC
By BRUCE WALTON
All you need to expertly carve a rose into a cantaloupe is a steady hand, finesse and a fine blade, culinary artist Stephan Baity told students at Mahoning County’s vocational school.
Each pedal takes about four to six cuts, he instructed the students, as well as to lay each petal on top of another like a “natural bloom” he said.
Baity, founder of his business, Graffiti Carving, spoke to students Thursday morning at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
Baity conducts his business carving intricate and bold designs into fruit and vegetables with the style of street graffiti, something he witnessed a lot growing up in Canton.
He also has placed first while competing in a number of sculpting competitions. The masterful chef and his team were also named the 2015 Food Network Holiday Cake Wars Champions.
“It’s really great for our kids to see the different aspects of culinary,” said Jessica Cene, community engagement specialist at MCCTC.
Baity’s visit wasn’t just for the culinary arts students, Cene said, but also creative-arts students because his technique can also teach them about sculpting and 3-D modeling.
Matt Putzier, a culinary arts instructor for the school, invited Baity at the beginning of the school year to speak to students.
“My passion is giving back, and when he [Putzier] told me what his role was, I was instantly on board,” Baity said.
Baity is a product of a school that helped him get his start in the culinary arts. While attending Canton McKinley High School, his teacher Rebecca Lebowitz saw his potential in a culinary class. He said Lebowitz pushed him to realize his talents, later getting him accepted to Pennsylvania Culinary Institute with six scholarships. With her help, he became the first person in his family to attend college.
“It just shows the power of someone like Matt [Putzier], and the impact that you can have on someone’s life and setting them on a path that will change not only their life, but the lives of others,” he said.
With any hope, Baity hopes to inspire students the way he was, such as Melissa Ramirez, a senior culinary student at MCCTC, who saw the premiere of “Cake Wars” featuring Baity in 2015.
Ramirez said she was so excited to see him. Before speaking on stage, he visited her class in the kitchen first, and Ramirez couldn’t believe her luck.
“It’s just something that I’m so amazed at with everything he’s doing right now,” she said.
At the end of his visit, Baity also let students work on their own carving projects with a simple design they could follow.