Kyneton’s Ian Kohlman has made history as the first bloke to cook his way from the Kyneton Show to the state final in baking.
“I’m feeling stoked,” he said. “Isn’t it ridiculous something like this and you feel so excited about it.”
Kohlman won best carrot cake against a strong field of competitors at the last Kyneton show in 2019 but had to wait until now for the regional finals after COVID cancelled most agricultural shows last year.
He first entered the Kyneton Show in 2018 when he was facing a “very life-shortening prognosis” after discovering he had an aggressive metastatic prostate cancer.
“My response was, ‘so be it’, but I am not just going to lie down and die,” Kohlman said.
He and wife Deb had met as scientists working at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute. Retired to Kyneton, Ian never thought he’d be seeing it “from the other side of the fence”, as a patient about to start chemotherapy.
“I thought I had to do something so I might as well make a cake. It shifted my mindset from worrying about what the outcome of all this might be and let’s just live for the day.”
Deb had won the Victorian Agricultural Shows fruit cake competition five of the six times she’d entered so Ian decided to enter the only other VAS baking class – carrot cake.
“I am not going to go up against my wife,” he said.
While Ian’s a good cook, Deb says he’s not a baker and had never made a carrot cake. But he won. “That really helped me,” he said. “I felt really good about that, rather than sitting around moping.”
By the time of his 2019 show win he was feeling well and the now 72-year-old is in remission – an outcome that’s even surprised his specialists.
He wasn’t expecting this country show success either – trumping wife Deb who’s never placed in the regionals.
“I don’t care how I went, I just wanted him to win because I knew it would mean a lot to him,” Deb said.
“He doesn’t want to blow his own trumpet but you can tell he’s a little bit pleased. It’s a big achievement.”
“I think she’s more excited than I am – and I’m pretty stoked,” Ian said.
Kohlman is one of only three Kyneton Show entrants to win at the group finals in Seymour where winners of the VAS categories from each of the region’s shows compete to decide who represents the Central and Upper Goulburn group at the state level.
At 89, three-time state sewing champion Janice Sinnott will be competing in the state knitting final, which she’s also won previously. Metcalfe’s Gai Stewart won through to the state final in the crocheted article competition.
They will represent Kyneton in the Victorian championship at September’s Royal Melbourne Show.
The baking state final will be at the VAS state conference in Bendigo late June.
“I’m still aiming for perfection,” Kohlman laughed.
— Story and photo: Bernadette Nunn