Novice takes the cake

Victoria’s first male carrot cake champion, Kyneton’s Ian Kohlman. Photo: Bernadette Nunn

Bernadette Nunn

Kyneton’s Ian Kohlman has beaten the state’s best bakers to become the first man named Victoria’s carrot cake champion.
“I could not believe it,” Mr Kohlman said. “I have never won anything like this.”
He won through from the last Kyneton Show in 2019 to be the first male to win the delayed Central and Upper Goulburn group final in May.

Mr Kohlman was then the only man among the nine regional winners at the state final held in Bendigo on June 26.
“It’s great for me and it’s great for the Kyneton Show because it’s the first time a male has won the state final,” he said.

Victorian Agricultural Societies executive officer, Rod Bowles, said Mr Kohlman was the first man to win in the competition’s eight years, challenging female domination of the carrot cake championship.
“It’s not limited to one gender anymore,” Mr Bowles said.

A recipe for recovery

A retired scientist, Mr Kohlman found himself back at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute as a patient for aggressive treatment of metastatic prostate cancer in 2018.
“It felt like death might have been close,” he said.
He only entered the Kyneton Show on his wife’s suggestion as a distraction from the grim diagnosis.

“Deb encouraged me to do something because I was just about to start chemo,” Mr Kohlman said.
He didn’t want to compete against her in the VAS fruit cake competition she’s won five times, so he entered the only other VAS open baking class, where all competitors cook to a set recipe.
He made his first-ever carrot cake – and won.

His treatment was also an unexpected success. When Kohlman won the Kyneton carrot cake competition the next year, his cancer was in remission.

Practise makes perfect

Mr Kohlman won a plaque and certificate for the state title, a bag of carrots and $250. But it took him six cakes to win the three rounds, making a practice cake each time.
A novice baker, he treats the kitchen like a laboratory.
“It’s like working in a lab,” he said. “You follow the recipe.
“I think it’s because with a scientist background I can follow procedures and you have got to be precise. I have watched Deb make her fruit cake and how precise she is.”

But Ms Kohlman has never even placed in the regionals.
“This was my fifth time at the group final and I have never won a cracker,” she laughed.

Mr Kohlman entered the practice cake in the state final, deciding it was the better of the two though he was worried it was overdone.
“I did not think I was going to win it,” he said.

He will defend his carrot cake title at November’s 160th Kyneton Show and is hoping his win will encourage more competition.
“I would love to see 30 or 40 people enter – the more the better,” Mr Kohlman said.
“If I lose this year, that’s okay. It would not have been the best cake – and I will go for the 2022 show!”