A Tribute to A Woman Who Dared So Many To Be,To The Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis

I never actually physically met Lisa Cifelli, or more known as Lis, a co founder of the Daring Bakers along with Ivonne, but it’s weird looking back on the far reaching influence she had on my own life.Lisa passed away suddenly  too soon this week. Her tenacity, spunkiness, and spirit caused a ripple effect in my life, formed through  my curiosity as I stepped gingerly into the Blogosphere in 2007. You see I wasn’t much of baker, that was my my late mothers thing. But being inspired by bloggers such as Tartelette, a few Wilton Classes, I found the then small group of the Daring Bakers, which was just starting to catch a giant wave . I signed up and began the far reaching adventure of baking, challenging , and perfecting my overall culinary skills. I always had the food bug, but the Daring Bakers instilled in me a healthy sense of competition,accomplishment , and wanting to tackle, the until then hit or miss,science of baking.  Month after month we posted  at the stroke of midnight, took creative license on recipe challenges from world renown authorities, photographed, commented,waited for  and plotted the next months announcement. It was a dizzying ride. The group grew and grew the world over. Many Daring Bakers became accomplished in the culinary fields branching into food styling, launching their own  culinary businesses, writing books,signing up for culinary school, going onto television, food writing, or growing their blogs into super blogs.

As with any good thing, one can outgrow it. The small niche group expanded to over the thousands, and those from  a close community can start to feel jaded, lost,overwhelmed,disinterested,non challenged, or their individual lives just got to be too much , along with the expense and growing waistbands.  I remember once on Twitter, some smart ass tweeted how he avoided Daring Baker posting days on Tastespotting and Twitter because it was everywhere. Have you ever seen a thousand links and  interpretations  of a Yule Log in a single day? It was a like a flash mob of gluten, sugar, butter , and spice.Today’s Daring Bakers is still going strong and barely recognizable to many of the older past members. Not to mention the off groups, and events that splintered off the Daring Bakers.

When Kelly informed us Lisa’s passing on Facebook, we reminisced and I remarked how refreshing it was to blog back then with a genuine passion and yearning for knowledge and sharing. Today’s  activity of blogging is a more slick , cynical  world that’s more consumed with PR, page views, followers,stolen content theft,expensive camera  apparatus ,advertising  fill rates,shares, link backs, the limelight, and seemingly less about having and sharing an authentic culinary experience.

I left the Daring Bakers after participating in 22 challenges. I suspect I’m missing a few.  That’s  basically two years of my life where I met many friends both on social media and in real life in locals all over the world ( Sweden, Austria,Italy,New York, Chicago, Toronto, the UK, San Francisco). I learned so much about myself, the science of baking, blogging, photography, culture, and what I really want in life through these challenges. I think the cookbook publishers, camera manufacturers, web hosting sites ,Amazon, culinary schools, King Arthur’s Flour,Kitchen Aid, and bakeware companies should give a nod to the late Lisa Cifelli for adding boost to their industries, and inspiring so many  people to Dare to Be. Without the challenges of  the Daring Bakers , I would never have become so emboldened to start my own catering business, write for Ebony Magazine, attend French Pastry School, meet fellow like minded strangers in locals across the world, and develop a confidence in my abilities. Thank you Lisa.  Aside from sharing some emails and random comments, you will never know the impact you’ve had on myself and countless others.

Next time you dust off your rolling pins, take out your cake pans, and preheat your oven in this ever increasing gluten, fat and sugar intolerant world, think of  feisty Lisa, the Daring Bakers, and the ripple  effect she and Ivonne caused in this pool of ganache we swim through called life. She welcomed and encouraged all culinary persuasions to interpret a challenge and share. We Daring Bakers didn’t always agree, but my how we rose to occasion. I remember when I emailed Lisa about leaving the group, she said the door was always open to come back.

Rest In Peace. You truly made a lasting impression in this world.

It was fun flashing back on these Daring Baker Posts I completed. These posts show many personal and culinary evolutions.I still use many of these recipes today. I just might attempt that Gingerbread House again this holiday season. Enjoy.

Bostini Creme Pie

Potato Bread Adaptations

My favorite post. The Yule Log and the Misunderstood Rabbit/Rat

Lemon Meringue Pie

Juila Child’s French Bread

Dorie Greenspans Perfect Party Cake

Cheesecake Pops

Opera Torte, My Second Favorite Post

Danish Braid or Wienerbrod

EclairsLavash CrackersPizza

Shuna Fish Lyndon’s Carmel Cake

Sweet and Savory Tuiles

Floureless Chocolate Cake and Adzuki Ice Cream

Lasagna From Scratch

Cheesecake , A Winner Till This Day

Strudel, Hosted by Yours Truly

Marshmallow Cookies

Vol Au Vents


Gingerbread Houses




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8 thoughts on “A Tribute to A Woman Who Dared So Many To Be,To The Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis

  1. bellini

    Well said Courtney. I hope Lis knew ho much she inspired and encouraged us all. I learned to be tenacious and to never say never when it comes to baking. I still have baking fails but knowledge is a powerful thing.

  2. kellypea

    This. Was. Awesome. On so many levels. It’s what I’ve always loved about you, Courtney. You tell it like it is. Lis would agree since she could let it rip. I have enjoyed watching your catering business grow and look forward to your FB posts about your most recent accomplishments. Missing the old days, for sure. And of course, will always connect Lis to it all.

  3. Gabi Marshall

    Courtney- I loved your post. So many things you wrote are the things I have also thought. I loved being in DB with you and all the others at that time. Carrying forward through the years our friendships are Lis’s legacy.

  4. Andrea Meyers

    Isn’t it amazing how much we all learned? Every time I worked on a challenge, Michael said I was getting an education worthy of culinary schools, though I dare say it was less stressful than baking for a grade or degree! You’ve accomplished a lot and we’re all proud of you!

  5. Joanne T Ferguson

    G’day! Also agree how much we have learned through these challenges and with each other, true!
    Love how you listed your completed challenges…lovely tribute to Lis!
    It is bittersweet as am enjoying reading all the tributes, shared one, but feel sad and glad at the same time too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  6. Beth

    Wow. I didn’t realize that she had passed away. Courtney, I believe that we met through Daring Bakers. Is that right?

    Truly sad, but Lisa leaves behind a group of people, all tangled together and bound by baking, who may have never connected otherwise. What a great lady.

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