白色巧克力之戀Love in White (Chocolate)
永利的蛋糕烘焙大師Flora Aghababyan為今期時裝專題準備了美味而精緻的道具，一起跟她走進廚房一探究竟吧。We followed Wynn master cake baker Flora Aghababyan into her kitchen as she prepared to fill our fashion feature with delectable props.
對於永利渡假村裡所有的員工來說，工作的終極目標就是讓客人的夢想成真。客人們喜歡在不經意間出現的各種驚喜，像是海濱大街上裝飾的美麗鮮花，小小的馬賽克地磚最近又換了花樣，還時時能看見有新的藝術品展出！這些看似神奇的魔法細節，有賴幕後各位出色的永利員工的通力合作。永利員工數量與客人的比例是11:1，即每位客人都有十一位永利員工為之服務，這樣看來，永利像是為客人建起了一個夢想之城，裡面的每位員工都擅長不同的魔法，讓客人最獨特的要求和夢想都能實現。永利拉斯維加斯的蛋糕藝術大師Flora A ghababyan這次收到我們的請求，可算是她本年度遇到最棘手的案例之一：我們的時裝拍攝故事背景是一對夫婦準備在永利度過一個奢華的難忘之夜，請Aghababyan為這對夫婦製作一個蛋糕，講述這段愛情故事。各位可以在40頁的時裝專題裡看到Aghababyan最終做出的美妙作品，但為了進一步瞭解那些美得讓人驚嘆的定制蛋糕，我們跟隨Aghababyan走進隱藏在永利拉斯維加斯裡的廚房聖地，一探究竟。我們抵達廚房的時候， Aghababyan的一位助手已經把冷凍的翻糖麵團放進模具裡擀平，切成裝飾蛋糕所需的形狀。牆架上放滿了各種可食用的染色顏料，另一位助手正把金色顏料輕輕塗上雕成花瓣狀的麵團，做成一朵朵金色的菊花，和永利軒牆上裝飾的金菊花幾乎一模一樣。Aghababyan輕鬆自如地在廚房裡穿行，在巧克力糖皮上壓出綢緞質感的花紋，再刷上半透明的食用金箔。她的動作非常迅速，雖然廚房常年維持在恆溫18.88攝氏度，但巧克力定型的過程仍然需要小心翼翼控制好時間：擀壓太多次的話，巧克力就會融化，時間過長巧克力又會包不住蛋糕。Aghababyan的工作環境裡擺滿了各種靈感來源，像是以永利為背景的時裝攝影、她自己的蛋糕設計手稿，還有玻璃罩裡的各種蛋糕作品：在一個可以吃的Tif fany藍色的盒子裡，跑出一隻趣致的翻糖小狗；一束染成冰沙紅色的的玫瑰，是向永利花藝設計致敬的甜美頌歌；還有以Ettal A bbey本篤會修道院為原型的精緻作品，讓修道院的壁畫在翻糖藝術裡生動再現，這件作品為Aghababyan在美國俄州舉行的國際翻糖藝術展上贏得全場大獎。「我製作的每個蛋糕都是由畫手稿圖開始，」廚房裡的機器發出輕微的 IT CAN PROBABLY BE SAID that everyone who works at Wynn Resorts is in the wish-fulfillment business. After all, guests have come to expect that the unexpected will materialize while no one is looking. Gorgeous fresh flowers appear on the Esplanades, tiny mosaic tile floors are replaced, fabulous art pieces arrive and install themselves. The reality, of course, is that crews of talented people—outnumbering the guests by a ratio of 3:1—form a kind of quiet city all their own at Wynn, each specializing in bringing their own brand of magic to fruition, and most accustomed to accommodating special requests. Still, the request we made of Wynn master cake artist Flora Aghababyan likely ranks among her most unusual of the year: Create a love story in cakes for a fictional couple treating themselves to a decadent evening at Wynn Las Vegas. You’ll see the stunning results in our fashion feature on page 40, but to understand just what would go into those dozens of incredible custom cakes, we followed Aghababyan to her kitchen, hidden within that inner sanctum at Wynn Las Vegas. As we arrive, an assistant is already feeding chilled blocks of sugar dough into a fondant sheeter, flattening them into malleable sheets they’ll cut into decorations. Shelves of edible pigments line the walls, and another assistant is airbrushing edible gold paint onto trays of spiky gum paste sculptures, transforming them into near duplicates of the gilded chrysanthemums that line the walls at Wing Lei. Aghababyan moves effortlessly through her kitchen, brushing a flat piece of modeling chocolate that she’s stamped with a brocade texture with translucent edible gold. She works fast: Though she keeps the kitchen at a consistent 66 degrees F, there’s a narrow window for shaping the chocolate: work it too much and it begins to melt, wait too long and it won’t wrap around the cake. She’s surrounded by inspiration; fashion shoots from inside Wynn, a catalogue of her own involved cake sketches— and shelf upon shelf of her specialty cakes under glass covers. An edible Tiffany-blue box appears open, freeing a quirky fondant dog; a bouquet of intensely sherbet-colored roses is a sugary ode to Wynn’s floral designs. There is even a porcelain-like interpretation of the landmark Benedictine monastery Ettal Abbey, for which she won the nation’s foremost Sugar Art Show, its frescoes immortalized in sugar paint.
嗡嗡聲， Aghababyan的聲音更響亮：「但今次我會更多地運用抽象元素來配合。當然我會從時尚潮流裡尋找靈感，但對於這個時裝專題，我覺得蛋糕的作用是融入拍攝場景裡，以獨特別緻的形態，為場景帶來生動點綴。」在Aghababyan心目中，時尚和蛋糕同樣重要，兩者都有相通的內在特質。她說：「時尚改變了我的人生。」Aghababya小時候生活在阿美尼亞，曾經以模特兒、演員和舞者的身份出演電視節目。「當時年紀還很小，但已經清楚知道自己應該以怎樣的造型出現在大家眼前，」她笑說，「我從來沒有想過最終會成為一個藝術蛋糕師。但我們總會做些自己從未想過會做的事情，對嗎？我覺得這其實是最好的選擇。」12歲時，她的興趣開始轉移到和媽媽一起在廚房裡烘焙蛋糕，她當助手。她認為自己與其他人的區別在於「我不喜歡做和別人一樣的東西。我會關注其他人做過什麼東西，我要做不一樣的」。Aghababyan憑著精湛的技術和極具藝術感的創新設計，先後在阿美尼亞、俄羅斯任職蛋糕師，後來在拉斯維加斯的Bellagio工作，專職為各種特別的宴會場合設計蛋糕。在Bellagio工作5年後，她聽說永利拉斯維加斯需要一位蛋糕設計師臨時填補一個星期的空缺，決定前去應徵並獲得聘用。原本的一個星期後來逐漸變成了十年，如今Aghababyan在永利擁有一方小小的廚房領地，還建立了Celebration Cakes蛋糕定制服務，酒店住客和外來客人都可以提前48小時訂到Aghababyan的經典作品，或者請她根據自己的要求特別定制一個蛋糕，提前5天時間預訂就好。Aghababyan就像時裝設計師一樣，在生活裡處處留心發現靈感，就連在酒店裡散步，都會找到新鮮啟發：「我散步穿過永利拉斯維加斯和萬利兩間酒店，映入眼中的豐富色彩和裝飾，即使當時未必能用在創作裡，但很多個月之後，還是會清晰地記起那些美麗的景象。」Aghababyan製作的蛋糕充滿精緻的藝術氣息，讓第一次看見她作品的人驚嘆不已，但Aghababyan認為，蛋糕不應該只注重藝術感：「蛋糕要看起來很美，同時還要吃起來很美味。我做了這麼多年蛋糕，越來越明白到，人們只需要小小的一點美好就能獲得巨大的幸福感，」她溫柔地笑起來，「你可以擁有世上一切，但能讓我們快樂起來的東西其實很簡單，有時一件蛋糕就做到了。」 “I start every cake with a drawing,” she says above the hum of her equipment. “But I’m approaching this fashion shoot a little more abstractly. Of course, I’m searching for inspiration in the fashion, but to me this shoot will be about giving the scene a variety of sizes and shapes that will look whimsical and work within the space.” For Aghababyan, there’s no clear break between her love of fashion and of cakes (aside, naturally, from what’s inside). “Fashion has always been a big influence for me,” she says. As a child in Armenia, she modeled, acted and danced on television, “and even at that young age I had a vision for what my whole outfit needed to look before I walked out the door,” she laughs. “I never thought I would end up making designer cakes. But usually we end up doing something we never thought we would, don’t we? I think this is the best way.” At 12 years old, she began channeling her creativity into baking in the kitchen with her mother, herself an accomplished baker. The difference, she says, was that “I don’t like to do things like anyone else. I like to look at what everyone else is doing and then do my own thing.” Her technical prowess and artistic innovation brought her from bakeries in Armenia and Russia to Bellagio in Las Vegas, where she created special occasion cakes. Five years in, she heard that Wynn Las Vegas was looking for a cake designer and was hired to fill a week’s term. That week turned into a decade, and now she has her own little kitchen fiefdom here, a made-to-order custom cake design business, in which guests and non-guests alike can order from her specialties with 48 hours’ notice, or design their own with the artist herself five days in advance. Much like a fashion designer, she seeks inspiration everywhere, even taking the occasional wander around the hotel. “I walk through Wynn and Encore, and I look everywhere. I can see things—colors, decorations—that I might not need then. But months later, I’ll remember..” And though their artistic finesse boggles the mind of anyone seeing her cakes all at once for the first time, she maintains they are not about art for art’s sake. “It has to look wonderful, but also taste delicious. As I’ve made more and more cakes, I’ve begun to understand how people can be made so happy over a small thing,” she smiles gently. “You can have everything, but a lot of times we don’t need that much to be happy. Sometimes just a piece of cake.”
從左至右： Aghababyan精美作品的局部； Chanel 2017秋冬系列的一條禮服裙，是我們今期時尚專題的靈感來源； Aghababyan與最終完成的作品合影。 from left: A detail of Aghababyan’s precise work; a Chanel dress from F/W 2017 used as inspiration for our fashion story; Aghababyan with a finished showpiece.