"Hey, I can do that!"

Sunday, February 28, 2010

That Takes the Cake 2010

That Takes the Cake 2010
1st place in Adult Beginner - Sculpted Cakes
2nd place in Adult Beginner - Special Techniques

 from left to right: 
"Something Blue" (Adult Beginner - Wedding Tiered)
"Maneki Neko" (Adult Beginner - Sculpted Cakes)
"Ramen" (Adult Beginner - Special Techniques)

I am sooooo tired.  My first cake show is officially over, and I couldn't be happier.  I walked away with 2 medals in the Adult Beginner division!  My "Ramen" bowl got 2nd in "Special Techniques" and my "Maneki Neko" got 1st in "Sculpted Cakes".  I'm too exhausted to blog in detail about those cakes just yet, but I can talk for a little while about the show.

First thing's first.  I finished my cakes on Friday around 4 pm.  Drop-off started at 5 until 8.  I was so relieved that I finished 3 out of 4 cakes.  I was supposed to enter "Novelty - Tiered" but ran out of time ... I didn't have any design for it anyway :b  My husband was on his way home from work and picking up the baby from day-care, so I was going to wait for him and then we'd all go together to deliver my cakes to the show.  He calls me to tell me he's on his way.  I tell him "ok, I'll be here .... OH SHIT!!!!"   Pardon my French, but disaster had struck.  My "Ramen" bowl had cracked and was threatening to spill its contents.  It was a pre-existing crack (that I had thought I patched up) that had split wide open.  I performed emergency surgery.  Melted fondant helped glue together a make-shift patch.  It wasn't working and I grew desperate.  I'll post more detail later, but what I ended up with was what I called a "load-bearing ribbon" ... a black ribbon wrapped around the edge of the bowl to stabilize the structure while the fondant dried.  We left that entry at home and delivered my cat and wedding cake.

Not many competitors were there on Friday night, but the volunteer staff were very friendly.   I brought my wedding cake in and my jaw dropped when I saw the 4 entries already there on the table.  I said "Can't it go next to an ugly one??"  The volunteer that was showing me where to put my cake was so nice; she complimented my cake and reassured me that I was being too hard on myself and that judges can see negative things I might not see in those other cakes.

My cat cake was the 2nd cake to arrive in the Adult Beginner - Sculpted Cakes section.  It sat next to an Alice in Wonderland cake.  He looked small compared to it :(  While setting him down I passed an amazing sugar sculpture cake that had a spaceship and astronauts and other super awesome things.

The next morning I woke up early to assess my "Ramen" bowl.  The patch seemed to be holding tight, so I deemed it ready for competition.  Again, not many people at the event center so early, so I was shown where to put my entry.  Where?  Ya, next to that freaggin' amazing sugar sculpture.  I said "I do NOT want to be next to THAT!"  I mean, I'm holding this silly bowl of soup, and it was supposed to sit next to this artwork that looked like a master had done?  The staff was so nice again!  She let me put it way to the side :)  I hope I didn't come off snotty ... I was already disheartened at how good the wedding cakes were and felt so stupid entering this competition.  I went home downcast but still proud that I managed to enter 3 out of 4 promised entries.

My brother came in to town to see the show and have a nice date-weekend with his wife (her mom was watching their young son for the night).  After we all had lunch out, my husband took the baby home (we'd meet up later after his mother could come over and watch our kiddo).  My brother, sister-in-law, and I drove to the cake show and managed to walk in RIGHT when the judges were looking at my cat cake.

We hovered behind them and heard Lauren Kitchens (the one in the white) say to the judge next to her, "It's cute!"  That was super awesome.  We spent the next few hours looking at all the cakes.  I took over 600 photos this weekend.  It was such a wonderful experience to see so many fantastic cakes.  Every time we hit a "Buttercream Only" category, it smelt soooo good.  After we saw all the cakes, we took a break and ate some cupcakes that were for sale.

My husband and I met up with a couple friends for the special dinner event at the cake show.  We ate a lovely buffet dinner while watching some of the big names in the cake industry work together to make a huge space-themed cake.  That wasn't what I had expected, but it was still fun.  Mike McCarey MC'd.  We watched their antics until about 9 pm.

The next morning I got up and over there early to attend extra demos.  There was a lot to be learned about the wonders of modeling chocolate from Lauren Kitchens and Mike McCarey.  Kathy Scott is a lovely lady from South Carolina that shared with us how she makes duck cakes.

After the demos I went to check on my cakes.  To my GREAT surprise, I saw that my cat had been tagged with winning 1st and my ramen had won 2nd in their respective categories.  I immediately called my husband, brother, and parents to tell them the good news with happy tears.

After the initial shock and excitement, the rest of the day sort of wore on.  There was a couple of hours for me to kill before the awards ceremony.  I got some shopping in, but unfortunately they were all sold out of their commemorative t-shirts.  Next year I'll pre-order mine, dammit.  I finally bought some Funky Letter tappits as well as some cute cat cut-outs.  There were so many things to buy, but I restrained myself.  Actually, I really should have bought some Americolor gels while I was there :(

The culinary arts school in Chicago had a booth, and I got to see some sugar art being demonstrated.  He assembled this abstract sugar sculpture in techniques that look similar to glass artists' processes.  It's an awesome medium, but I don't think I'm really "into" blow torches ... I actually have a heat phobia.  Weird for a baker, huh? 

The awards ceremony was at 3:00 pm.  I called my husband at 2:45 pm to ask where he was.  He thought it was at 3:30!  Luckily they started with the tasting competition awards first, then went to the child and culinary student divisions.  He and my 9 mo old waited with me as they called out the awards.  There was another guy in the Adult Beginner division that also won 2 medals.  I believe he won 1st in the Wedding Tiered category.  Afterward we couldn't really hear what to do next.  My daughter was very fussy.  Something about a photographer and "stand next to your cake".  We exited the room and went back to the floor.  My daughter didn't want to stay put, so my husband did laps with her while guarded my cat.  I carefully took him over to the photographer's stand.  Not sure if I'll be contacted about the photos, but I did sign a release form.  I've been checking the events' website every day to see if they posted pictures.  After wandering around, trying to figure out what we're supposed to be doing, I asked a staff person if I was going to receive a critique sheet for my cakes.  She directed me to a couple people and I finally got in line to receive my critique sheet.  I got a paper with a quick blurb for each entry.  Funny, though, the only one with negative remarks was my 1st place cat.  If only I could see what everyone else's sheet said, I bet I could learn a lot.

I'm going to wrap this up here for now... too tired to go on ... see more later.  Long story short:

UPDATE (03/25/2010):  The following is a message posted on the thattakesthecake.org website.  I wanted to copy it here so I don't lose it when they update their page.

A Note from our Show Director, Jennifer Bartos:
The weekend of the That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show and Competition went by so quickly and now it is all a blur. There was so much going on all weekend; here are some of the numbers. More than 350 cakes and showpieces were entered into the competition and the winners split almost $10,000 in cash and prizes; more than 2500 people attended the show over the weekend; 30 vendors from all over the country sold specialty tools and supplies; 25 sponsors and donors donated thousands of dollars in cash and products; 6 great demonstrations were conducted by some of our special guests; 3 separate onsite competitions challenged competitors and delighted the audience; 210 people attended hands-on mini-classes and celebrity instructor classes before, during and after the Show and 1 very special showcake was the culmination of collaborative efforts of the competition judges – all of this in just the 18.5 hours that the Show was open!

A big thank you and pat on the back to all the competitors. The judges were very complimentary of the high quality of workmanship in the entries. It was exciting to see attendees of all ages walking through the competition display area marveling at the edible works of sugar art. I know it is a challenge to compete – a challenge to find the time to work on your piece and a challenge to transport it, etc. – but competition is truly the way to bring your work to the next level. It is through competition that you push yourself to try, practice and master new techniques. I hope all of the competitors had fun – I know I and many others enjoyed looking at your work!

Another big thank you goes out to our special guests who served as judges, demonstrators and instructors. The list reads like a veritable who’s who in the cake decorating world – Mike McCarey, Nicholas Lodge, Geraldine Randlesome, Kathy Scott, John Kraus, Lauren Kitchens, Amy Eilert, Carolyn Mangold, Steven Stellingwerf, Earlene Moore, Mark Seaman, Elizabeth Dickson, Janette Pfertner, Ruth Rickey and Janet Rosebeary. We were honored to have them as our guests at the Show and appreciate their expertise that they shared with the competitors, students and attendees.

The volunteers also deserve a huge thank you! We had a great group of about 100 volunteers who donated thousands of hours of their time planning, putting together prizes and signs, setting up tables and chairs, handling onsite registrations, manning the raffle prize booth and everything in-between. It takes a lot of planning, time and effort to put on a show of this magnitude and believe me, it would not happen without the efforts of all of the volunteers and in particular Ellen Cromwell, volunteer coordinator, Kim Sanchez, Capital Confectioner’s treasurer, and Kyla Myers, Capital Confectioner’s president and web mistress extraordinaire!

We have already started planning the 2011 Show! Mark your calendars now – February 26 and 27, 2011. The theme for 2011 is Comic Books – Super Heroes and Super Villains. Can you imagine the showcakes that we will see next year? Start thinking about your entry now and practicing your techniques. There will be even more cakes, more vendors, more classes and of course more opportunities to volunteer! Check back to this website (ThatTakesTheCake.org) regularly to find out the plans for the Show and think about joining the Capital Confectioners Cake Club (CapitalConfectioners.com) if you are interested in helping out with planning the Show. We look forward to an even bigger and better Show in 2011 – I know you will not want to miss it!

Thanks for your participation in the past and looking forward to the future –
Jennifer Bartos
Show Director
That Takes the Cake

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