Fashion model turned master baker Charles Laurent knew from an early age that he wanted create art and a true experience. Born in a small town in the north of France, the culture of his country and historic environment of Nord was a perfect template to develop his extensive imagination. Making his way to the United States, he started to work on crafting his body into equally gorgeous art, which led to modeling and hitting the runways for top designers. Self teaching himself English and becoming a true social media maven, Laurent has turned to the kitchen to crafting a brand new type of art, but this time around, it’s the time we all can indulge in, as a master baker.
I caught up with Laurent to talk about balancing modeling and baking, the endless love letter to his grandmother that his work in the kitchen truly is, and how he can find inspiration in almost anything and make something gorgeous (and delicious) with it!
Michael Cook: Going from the runway as a model to the kitchen being a master baker is certainly an interesting journey; tell me how that journey actually happened?
Charles Laurent: It has always been a passion. It was not great with my parents at home, so I spent most of my time with my grandmother and she loved to bake. I decided to go into that because I knew that beauty will not last forever!
MC: Were you always creative, even as a child?
CL: Yes, I always was. I never was taught to draw or paint or anything like that. I was doing it all by myself and it turns out, that I am pretty good at it (laughs)!
MC: In a very interesting twist of fate, Disney actually played a role in your journey correct?
CL: Yes they did. My stepfather was not that nice, and I was going to nursing school for three years to get away from home. For a vacation, I could not stay at school and I definitely did not want to go back home. I decided to go to Disneyland Paris and it was so accepted to be gay there. For me, it was freeing and it was a way to enter a world where I could finally be my own self. It is a place to be an all around creative person and my head is always really full of dreams there.
MC: Your art and the English language are just two of the things that you have actually taught yourself, as opposed to learning through schooling. What really makes it different when you learn things like that on your own?
CL: I will say, I learn like you first learn-with difficulty. I came to the country with four hundred dollars in my pocket, so I really “went through it”. It makes you more vulnerable and you appreciate things even more. I know in America the system is different that it is in France; in France, everyone gets a chance, whereas in America, if you have money you can get into the best school. After everything I went through, to have a chance to go to school, I truly appreciate it.
MC: You were raised in the stunning country of France, and it must be such an inspirational place to come from. Does that country drive some of your creativity?
CL: Yes, definitely. Even in my city, I can just walk five minutes and I can see so much beauty, or we can drive thirty minutes and I will see two or three castles. It is a lovely way to live and it is completely different. We have history and I have always been fascinated by Versailles. I can reflect into my cake and what I am working on through the culture. We are an older country also, I am sure America will be just as amazing at that age also (laughs). You have to give a window for people to dream; to be transported a little bit, especially when times are not the best.
MC: How is is that you stay in such amazing shape when you are making such gorgeous and delicious cakes?
CL: Well, I definitely have some secret recipes. You can cut the sugar for some recipes, or some recipes are vegan and they don’t stick to your body the same as recipes with regular sugar from France. I like to reinvent and recreate some of them into new recipes. I know my market; I know they are gay and into their body, but hey, I’m not lying I am going to the gym also, I run in the morning and at night, I go with a friend to lift. I run every morning and it definitely wakes me up.
MC: What inspires you as a creative force on an every day basis?
CL: First of all, my roots for sure. Everything around me inspires me. We live in a city where everyone has a story and has so much to give; there is life and light everywhere; Being a model and I think being so lucky to travel, I feel like there are so many amazing places I have gotten to see. I bring all of that together and my brand never stops creating. You can give me the world and I will make a cake with it.
All photos courtesy of Charles Laurent
For more information on Charles, check out http://www.laurentxiv.com/.
You can check out his Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/laurent.xiv/?hl=en