Baking is a science as well as an art form. Baking vegan, gluten free and paleo is a whole other experience. One that I am madly in love with. I am obsessed with what you can create out of nature’s most simple pleasures. Cashews, almonds, dates, pistachios, mango, limes, lemons, cherries. Ingredients that are nourishing for the body and can be transformed into a feast for the eyes. There is a rhythm to baking. You get lost in the creation, the colors and the flavors. As you dip your finger in and taste the sweetness that blooms on your lips you realize you have created your own fairytale. Shanti Wilby of From The Wild is a majestic queen of creation. She concocts cakes that look like dreams. She sources many of her ingredients locally from Adelaide Australia and every one of her desserts tells a story with its presentation. Words seem to fall short when I talk about Shanti. She has the sweetest soul and a humble spirit. Every time she shares one of her decadent treats with me I feel as though I have been transported to another world. One where beauty reigns and imagination flourishes. I hope you enjoy this eye and mind feast as much as I do. xo
What brought you to a place of creating stunning Vegan + Gluten Free desserts? Are you yourself Vegan?
My husband and I spent four years in Byron Bay NSW, where I had the opportunity to work for a naturopath and podcaster, Jules Galloway. Seeing Jules do what she loved making vegan cakes and running her own events really inspired me! Eventually she passed more work on to me and I worked at a few detox health retreats as the raw food chef. I had so much fun! It was then that I realized that my passion for plant based food was only growing stronger and stronger and I needed to listen to that! I also had the opportunity to work as a waitress and kitchen hand at Gaia Retreat and Day Spa which was just incredible. The food there is truly world class and all of the chefs there were gracious enough to listen to and answer many of my curious and nerdy food questions! I made so many great friendships in our time in Byron and just came back to Adelaide, South Australia fully inspired and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to work for myself and create vegan and paleo friendly food for those with dietary restrictions and plant based lifestyle choices! I myself am gluten and dairy intolerant and I have had a multitude of health challenges so I know what it’s like to want to indulge in something delicious but not always knowing where to go. I always felt like I was the inconvenient one when I had to ask if something on the menu was gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free. My dream in what I am creating is to give people a beautiful food experience that is nourishing, delicious and full of love!
Where is your favorite location to draw inspiration from?
I love to draw inspiration from the garden, and our orchard on our property. I love seeing the fruit grow, hearing the bees, looking at what is growing in season and drawing from that! J
What colors make you giddy inside?
Deep Purple and Aqua! And when I manage to create those colours in cakes! Oh it makes me so happy! I love vibrant colours.
Did you grow up in the kitchen?
I grew up in the kitchen and in the orchards. Hospitality and food is in my blood. My whole family is German, so I grew up observing a lot of German food traditions and seeing my family create German cakes was always magical as a kid. My great grandma was a baker and an organic farmer, and both my mum and my grandma loved to bake traditional German desserts and family dishes. My fondest memories include watching my mum bake at Christmas time – German Cherry Tortes, Apple Strudels and Baked Cheesecake – and picking apples in my grandpa’s orchard for his apple cider that he used to make. When my parents moved to Australia, they moved onto a property that was self sustainable, for the most part. Scattered fruit trees, veggie gardens and strawberry patches were planted, as well as eucalyptus trees and gumtrees. My kitchen was outside during the day making mud pies in the dirt, and in the evening I watched mum cook and bake J In 2017, I am hoping to create more cake flavours that reflect my German heritage.
Your favorite season?
I can’t decide between Autumn (Fall) and Spring!
Your most coveted produce in winter?
Pomegranates! And citrus fruit.
Flavors that you love to use?
I love to use traditional and unique flavor combinations together. Like Strawberry & Elderflower, or Chocolate Chai and Tumeric, Mango Passionfruit & Chamomile, Blueberry & Lavender. The list goes on!
What do you want others to take from your creations?
I want them to feel loved. Like their lifestyle and dietary choices are not an inconvenience to anyone, and that they can have a delightful and nutritious food experience just like everyone else!
Your take on our modern food system? How do you think we could change for the better?
I think there are so many incredible things happening all over the world and I love where it’s heading! Environmental sustainability, ethical food choices, plant based restaurants, local farming, it’s so inspiring that these are becoming more common and that more awareness around supporting local businesses and farmers is on the up and up! I LOVE going to my local farmers market and seeing more and more people shopping local. The more we can support local farmers and small local businesses, the better.
Top Five places you would like to visit in the world and why?
1. Berlin : to visit my Aunty and Uncle and cousins. My sweetest memories with them is around the kitchen table feasting on artichokes, salads, drinking wine and going for walks in their orchards. Family time is so so important to me, especially when they are so far away. The time we get, is precious!
2. San Francisco : to visit the other half of my family! My dad, step mum and brothers. Plus San Francisco is such an incredible hub of inspiration in the food industry. I could spend years there gleaning and absorbing the culture and learning from the hospitality world!
3. LA – at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy! If I could take a good three months off and go over to learn on site, from their incredibly mind blowing plant-based courses, I would!
4. Jamie Oliver’s Garden – Possibly a bit creepy, I know! Haha. He has always been an inspiration to me. I strongly believe in making food and nutrition simple and in educating others around what they’re putting in their body and how to make healthy recipes more approachable for busy workers and families.
5. Then there are some food bloggers who I’d love to spend time with! One of them, Emma Galloway, who lives in New Zealand. She creates seriously stunning recipes and she has always been an inspiration to me! I’d love to learn from more bloggers and hear what life is really like for them, inside and outside of the kitchen. The challenges they face in juggling life with family, how they rest, how they find inspiration and how that is translated to the rest of the world. It just fascinates me!
I would love for you to share with us a photo of your favorite cake! Can you tell us a bit about how it was crafted?
I have a few favourites! For me, what is defined to me as “favourite” not only reflects on the flavour of the cake, but also the relationship I build with the couple/customer. Two that stand out to me, were for two married couples (they were wedding cakes). I got to decorate the cakes using my own creative lisence, but each couple was just so incredibly delightful and kind! It is always a joy to make such incredible cakes for stunning people! I feel so humbled that they would trust me to style their cake for their special occasion!
What is baking for you? What does it make you feel?
Baking and creating meals/recipes is completely calming for me. Entering that zone is both challenging and inspiring. It challenges me because if I make a mistake in my recipe testing, I have to confront and move through fear of failure and any self doubt that might be lurking beneath the surface. And when I am in a peaceful zone it is calming because I just feel so thankful to have a roof over my head and a pantry full of healthy delicious ingredients to create stunning treats!
Connect with the beautiful Shanti on Instagram to follow her gorgeous creations! xo