As a pastry chef and graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, Repka's gathered a variety of decorative baking pans -- from Rugrats and Big Bird to flowers and T-shirts -- and keeps them on display.
A few of Repka's vintage pans include a Raggedy Ann doll and guitar.
photo by Jessica VanZalen
Repka chose her first pan during a baking class in Tucson. The then-16-year-old chose a simple cross-shaped pan. Little did she know, the class and the pan would lead her down the culinary path toward becoming a pastry chef and a well-stocked garage of metal baking tools.
Once her love for baking flourished, she found that cake-making is in her genes. Her grandmother also had a love for cake-making and passed down her 1970s vintage pans to Repka, who proudly displays them with her own.
Repka says she was known as "cake girl" in high school -- she gave away elaborate cakes for birthday presents and started filling orders for friends and family. The teenager designed each special-ordered cake and picked up a few more pans along the way.
Her computer and Rugrats pans are among her favorites. "You gotta let your geek flag fly," she says.
Repka finds most of her pans at thrift and craft stores where bargain bins can often have some lucky finds, she says. Although she acknowledges her impressive collection, she says there are many more serious collectors out there, who pay big bucks for vintage pans online.
As for displaying the 40-something pans so proudly in her garage, she says she used to have a "library of cake pans" on a shelf, but wanted to make better decorative use out of them.
"I figure if I have a bunch of something, I should make them worth my while," she says.
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Each pan has a stamp of when they were made and where for collectors.