When I started my blog back on January 2011, one of my main reasons for doing so was to join the Daring Bakers. It took me a few months to work up the courage to actually join the group, and I completed my first challenge in April 2011: maple mousse in an edible container, pictured above. I remember logging on to the forum for the first time and reading the introduction to the challenge recipe, posted by someone named Lis, whose message included such effusive, effervescent positivity, quirky humour, and lots of smiley faces. I soon learned that Lis was the co-founder of the Daring Bakers and the driving force behind the Daring Kitchen (which encompasses both the Daring Bakers and the Daring Cooks), the one who maintained the website, who organized the hosts for each challenge, who basically kept the lights on in the kitchen, as it were.
I also discovered that many of my favorite and inspirational food bloggers, including Julie Van Rosendaal of Dinner with Julie, Helene Dujardin of Tartelette, and Zoë François of Zoë Bakes, had themselves been Daring Bakers at one point. I got to know Lis a little bit better through emailing back and forth with her this summer when I hosted a Daring Bakers challenge, and more recently a few weeks ago when she invited me to write product and recipe reviews for the Daring Kitchen website.
I am so, so sad to learn that Lis passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday. This woman who I never met in person and most likely never would, who I only knew via email, but who provided a huge opportunity for personal growth, confidence, and inspiration to me and countless other food bloggers, home cooks and bakers – literally, I bet there are thousands of us who owe some of our kitchen chops to Lis and the Daring Kitchen, not to mention the network of blogging friends that I have met through the Daring Bakers.
Kelly of Sass & Veracity suggested that we all celebrate Lis with a tribute post today, sharing something we’ll remember about her. I will remember how Lis always ended her emails and messages on the Daring Kitchen forums with, “Hugs, Lis xoxo”, sending support and love as if she was your closest friend. For the past three years of my life, each month has started with a message on the Daring Bakers forum from Lis with her cheerful sign-off, kicking off the month with humour and the chance to challenge myself. Lis, you leave a giant hole in our hearts, but you also leave the Daring Kitchen as your legacy, and for that I will always thank and remember you.