She’s also learned an important secret—how to judge the judges. “I have learned over the years, by observing what has won in the past, that the judges really favor cakes with fruit,” says Fisher. It was knowledge put to good use. Over the course of two days during the summer, Fisher turned her galley-style kitchen into a production line, hired her mother as a sous chef and produced five cakes, including a peaches and cream concoction that went on to win first place.
For inspiration, Fisher scours cookbooks and magazines, and watches food shows to find new flavor combinations. “I will use a chocolate cake recipe from one cookbook,” she says, “but I will combine it with a filling that I saw in another cookbook. Then I’ll make a family recipe for the frosting. So the end result is new, but the individual components may not be.”