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From circus performer to TV baker, his life is a juggling act

T Lawrence-Simon did well on Food Network Canada’s ‘Great Chocolate Showdown,’ and American audiences will soon get to see for themselves. We caught up with him to talk about all things travel.

T Lawrence-Simon in Krka National Park in Croatia with friends Zoe Backwell (left) and Nicola Moran (right).
T Lawrence-Simon in Krka National Park in Croatia with friends Zoe Backwell (left) and Nicola Moran (right).Handout

T Lawrence-Simon, a circus performer and coach (specializing in aerial hoops) who teaches at Esh Circus Arts training center in Somerville, is earning a reputation for more than acrobatics. The 33-year-old Brookline native has always enjoyed baking – and posting pictures of his creative confections on social media. A couple of years ago, he was contacted by a producer from Food Network Canada’s “Great Chocolate Showdown” who saw his posts and asked him if he wanted to compete on the reality TV show. “Going in, I didn’t have any thoughts that I would get very far,” Lawrence-Simon said. “I mean, I only baked for family and friends.” As it turns out, he made it to the finals in the competition, which aired in Canada last year and was recently picked up by the CW Network. It will air in the States later this year, he said. After getting encouragement from the show’s judges, Lawrence-Simon decided to pursue his culinary passion and established his own catering business, Cirque du Souffle – a nod to his other passion – and is in the process of looking for a temperature-controlled commercial kitchen. Eventually, he would like to open a dessert-concept restaurant. He is not, however, giving up on the circus. “I want to do both,” Lawrence-Simon said. “When you’re in the circus, it’s how you live and who you are, so there’s no real quitting the circus.” We caught up with Lawrence-Simon, who lives in Somerville with two roommates and two cats, to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?

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I’d have to say of all of my travels so far, I loved my trip to Croatia the most. It is such a beautiful country. The food is delicious, and the language is beautiful.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?

I like to find the local version of a dumpling ... you know? What is the way your country puts meat filling inside of a dough casing? My favorite drink while vacationing is water. Hydrate yourself.

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Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

I have never traveled to Thailand, and during this pandemic I have watched a ton of Thai street food vendor videos on YouTube. My therapist has spent a lot of time there, and so we hatched a plan that once it feels like I can safely travel – both for myself, and for others – I will just get up and go experience Thailand. Hopefully, I can meet a monkey, which is one of my life’s dreams.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

Hmm, I am going to have to say phone, but not for communication purposes. I am a horrible print map reader, so having the navigation software is helpful for me if I wander a bit off the beaten path.

Aisle or window?

Oh gosh, aisle or just let me stay home. From genetics and then trapeze, I have very broad shoulders, and I feel squished unless I am in the aisle seat. Yes, that means every cart is going to bump into my shoulder as it passes, but I don’t mind. Also, I don’t have to awkwardly wake anyone up to get up and stretch my legs, or use the lavatory.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

Oh boy, I remember when I was really young, my family took a trip to Ecuador, and I got to stand on the Equator. ... My mind was blown. Since then, I have achieved another notable divide by doing a split across the United States and Canadian border.

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Guilty pleasure when traveling?

Hmm, let’s see. I do try and see one big performance anytime I’m in a new location, to see what the art is like in that culture.

Best travel tip?

I don’t know if this is a tip or a problem, but I always pack way more underwear than I know I will need – and a cute bikini, just cause you never know.

JULIET PENNINGTON