May 7, 2012

Festival of Chocolate Cake Competition

As I sit here, eating some of my left over cake from last nights event, I am amazed at the incredible life I have. I am blessed to be surrounded by incredibly amazing friends and family that support me in my dreams and desire to bring joy to people through cake.
First, I have my amazing husband who designs and builds cake stands, structures and anything else I need. He designs stickers, brochures and labels, he edits photos, writes programs and especially plays with the kids in the evening while I am working at the bakery. He is my best friend and I couldn't do any of this without him!
Next, I have my big sister who I have always adored and looked up to. She spends her mornings on the phone with me, making me shopping lists, inventory lists, setting up appointments and just making my life easier so I can focus on cake designs and so I have have a few extra minutes with my kids each day. She is a life saver and I am incredibly glad I get to talk to her almost every day!
Then I have my mom, who is the greatest mom in the world! She probably thought that once I moved out she wouldn't have to wait up for me anymore, but oh, was she wrong! My wonderful mom who is 2 time zones behind me, waits up for me every night I am at the bakery, so that when I am driving home at 1am, 2 am or 3am I have someone to talk to as I drive. I always look forward to talking with her! You would think at some point we would run out of things to talk about, but it sure hasn't happened yet!
Then I have my amazing brothers, sister-in-laws, Dad and cousins that call and check in on me. They comment on my cakes, and make me feel like I can do anything. My sister-in-law who lives in Alaska is an amazing baker and I often call her for tips and recipes.
I also have amazing friends and neighbors who are happy to taste my cakes and give me feedback. I am so grateful to be where I am right now. I hope that I can give back to all the people that make my career possible, not just in cake, but I hope I can fill others lives with love and caring the way they have done for me.
Well, enough of the mushy stuff. This week has been one of the craziest of my career. We had 3 large events this week, so I will start with the 1st...
The LIVE Cake Competition
The Festival of Chocolate at the UCF Arena

So, the morning started off early, we got to the Arena and unloaded and started setting up around 8:30am, we were 3 hours early, but I wanted to make sure I had everything since I had been up until 3am the night before preparing. There were 4 competitors and we each had 2 tables to work on. The way the competition works is that we can bring our cakes already baked and crumb coated. During the competition we had to apply fondant and decorate the cake in 2 hours. I came with a very planned cake that I had designed and had practiced once before all the way through.
 This is me looking a little crazy right before we started the clock. It was a very weird experience to be introduced and to have the entire audience count down to begin the competition. What you can't see is that there are about 100 people watching me and the other competitors as we work.
 There were 3 judges for the competition: Mercedes Strachwsky from Bake Me a Cake here in Orlando, who I look up to and was so excited to meet her that I acted like a total dork when she showed up at my table before the event, Edna de la Cruz from Design Me a Cake who is another cake hero of mine and Andeaus Proisl who was named the 2010 Pastry Chef of the Year and is the Executive pastry Chef at the Isleworth Country Club in Windermere, FL.


  Here I am concentrating super hard with less than 40 minutes to go. It was sort of a surreal experience to be in the competition, because I knew there was a lot going on around me and I could here people talking about me and taking pictures of me. I could hear my friend telling everyone about my website and how yummy the cakes are and I could hear kids trying to pull there moms away while the moms kept saying...just a minute lets keep watching her. There were so many times I wanted to react and join in the conversations, because the audience was less than 6 feet away, but I thought I might freak them out. I think most people thought I couldn't hear them, so I just pretended not to, plus I need every moment I had.
At about 30 minutes left I had placed the roses and the hats on the top of the cake and I was feeling pretty good and then the judges came over and measured my cake and I was about 3 inches short. I had to come up with more height or I would be disqualified. I only panicked a little, then I grabbed a large ball of fondant, took off the topper that was there,  stuck the fondant on the cake and made more flowers to cover it all up. I think it ended up looking even better, but it sure scared me and the audience. With about 20 minutes left the judges came and asked if we could turn the cake around to the audience could see what I was doing. it was great to hear the collective gasp as the cake was turned and the audience saw the front of the cake for the 1st time. I couldn't help but smile.
At the 10 second mark the audience started the count down and it took everything in me not to burst into tears. I was so excited to be done and was so tired. But...
I WON!!!!! 
I think my favorite part of the competition was meeting the judges. It was a pleasure to meet all 3 of them and I was thrilled that they took the time to tell me all the things I could have done better on my cake. It was also great to watch as they enjoyed my cake tasting.  





 Here is the final cake up close. The theme was Fashionista Weddings, so I wanted to go with one of my favorite things and that is the Kentucky Derby Fashion, with the big hats that are so fun and romantic. I also added the orange and coral colors because they are the 2012 wedding colors of the year.


I had a wonderful time and learned so much as i prepared and competed at the Festival of Chocolate Competition!
 I would love to hear from you about what you think of the cake or any questions you may have!

5 comments:

  1. Amazing work! Congrats!

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  2. OMG Wendy!! You have outdone yourself. Of COURSE you won! So happy for you - CONGRATS!!!

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  3. Congratulations! What a great experience for you. You do such great work. Luv ya, Gayle

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  4. You continue to amaze me with all of these incredible cakes!!!

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  5. Hi Wendy, I love all your cake creation. Love all your creativity.

    Cheers
    Hankerie
    www.hankerie.com

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