My Space: Organic Ash’s commercial home kitchen

Organic Ash

Ash Scott is a baker, photographer, and social media manager. When you ask her how she did it she’ll tell you it all came about via Instagram, and entirely by accident. She’s an inspiration for those of us yet to find our “calling” (or make a living from it at least) and a testament to the power of social media. Here I talk to Ash about the challenges and benefits of working from home as a baker. 

Organic Ash

How long have you been working from your home kitchen? What made you decide to work from home as opposed to using an existing commercial kitchen?

I’ve been working commercially from my home for about a year. My local council are really great, I registered with them very early on in the game and they have been so supportive. 

I choose to work from home for a number of reasons. First of all 90% of my baking is wheat free and I do a lot of gluten free baking too. It’s impossible to be gluten free in a commercial baking environment due to all the air borne particles. It’s hard enough getting up as early as I do – throw in the commute plus how cold it gets here in winter – I thought 5am in my kitchen is fine but 4:30am -1 degree in winter in a large commercial kitchen would be awful.

Also it came down to cost. I started my business with $500 and there was no give in that for rent. Financially I could do it now but I actually love working from home so probably won’t – I love walking out into my garden to pick flowers to garnish my cakes with, I love listening to my music/podcasts. Most bakers I’ve worked with have had shit taste in music and didn’t know what podcasts were so…

What do you love about your kitchen? Can you pin point any favourite things?

I had a love hate relationship with my old kitchen. It was tiny – the smallest room/largest cupboard in the house. It was 3m x 3m, including bench space, cupboards, fridge and oven… tiny. Everything was challenging, hauling all my ingredients from my studio into the kitchen daily, waiting for room in the oven because only two trays fit in at a time, the fact that there was one power socket that was frankly, in a really stupid position.

I’ve always had a work with what you have attitude so that helped. It taught me a lot, in particular to tidy as you go – not my natural way of being. I also learnt time management. Naturally I’m a very efficient multi-tasker but learning to slow down has (perhaps) been a good thing.

We have just bought a new house and my first big purchase was an enormous SMEG double oven. My new kitchen is a lot bigger than my old one. It was a do-up but the kitchen was top of the list (it had to be a certain standard for the council to give me the tick). 

Are there any challenges about this space in relation to photography? How does it compare to your old kitchen?

When it comes to photography there are a few tricks. My bench top is mostly a hideous green colour, so I do have to use other surfaces to shoot on, mainly my marble slab that sits on my bench covering a gaping hole (long story… but it was my doing). It’s the perfect surface to shoot on, it’s bright and simple. Compared to my old space it is still infinitely better!

Do you have a props collection? What are your favourite pieces to photograph with?

I don’t really have a very big props collection, everything in my photos is legitimately what we use at home. I tend to keep my photos quite simple and minimal because I prefer the aesthetic. I do see a lot of photographers that surround the dish they’ve made with every ingredient and vintage utensil they can find, and while I love that look and have experimented with that style of photography myself, it always felt forced. I guess I was seeing so many people doing that and I thought it looked quite cool but in the end it wasn’t me.

I guess all photographers try new things when they’re new and trying to figure things out. Needless to say that phase didn’t last long and I decided to work with what inspired me which is good food, space, light and shadow. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out what time to photograph as we’re in a new house and the light has changed.

In terms of what we have at home it’s a weird mix, I have a lot of hand made pottery mostly gifted from friends, op shop utensils and odd mugs. My cast iron pans have to be my most loved and used items – everybody needs a good set of cast iron pans! As for equipment I believe in spending a bit more and getting a good quality item rather than buying products that are designed to last a year or two.

There are a few things I have my eye on like some good European bundt tins – the really tall ones, you just can’t get them here.

One crazy thing I have sourced is a set of stainless steel ice block moulds. eBay didn’t ship here so I got them posted to a friend in San Diego who held onto them and gave them to my partner when he was over there for work… it took months to get them made but it was totally worth it! I love them!

What do you wear when you’re working, and what do you like to listen to?

I wear the type of clothes that one would typically work out in. I don’t actually work out but when I show up to school drop off in ‘active wear’ I like to give off the vibe that I’m some one who would work out – leggings, t shirt and Nikes. Basically all about comfort and sensible footwear.

I listen to all sorts but mostly National Radio and podcasts. 

My fave podcasts at the moment are Heavyweight, The Memory Palace, Undisclosed, Strangers, Invisibilia, Kim Hill (she’s on National Radio but if I miss her Saturday slot I podcast her all week, she’s amazing), Violet Sessions, and The Guilty Feminist. If anyone has pod cast recommendations PM me. I’ve kinda exhausted all mine…

See more of Ash (including recipes!) on her website. Follow her at Organic Ash for baking, cooking, and HB life; Buttercream and Blooms for custom wedding and occasion cakes; and on Facebook for a bit of both.

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