Page 34 - Pastry & Baking Magazine

Does butter cream still have a place in cake decorating?
Of course it does, it is an American institution, it is in absolutely
no danger of disappearing it is the bread and butter of cake
decoration in the homeland and probably will always remain
so. There must always be choices of decorating mediums for all
levels of clientele and the new methods give that option.
When you were decorating wedding cakes, how important
was your interaction with the bride?
I liked to work with brides with imagination, my cakes were
high dollar and labor intensive and I did not care if I passed up
a cake if the concept was boring preferring to wait for something
more exciting to stretch myself. I pushed the price point too,
which was an advantage to my
competitors who were creating
labor-intensive cakes for the same
price as butter-cream, not me! In
the early eighties my business card
read, “I will not open my oven
door under $2000!” If potential
clients did not want to pay my
price they drifted elsewhere with
my help (I cheerfully provided the
p h o n e numb e r s o f my
competitors) and they in turn
were ecstatic they were getting
double what they were charging
for butter-cream. The clients were
happy because it looked a whole
lot better than my pricing
schedule, a win win for all and I
got to make the cakes that I really
wanted. I never followed the
ridiculous game set in stone
regarding price by serve. I priced
by completed commission
regardless of numbers.
Cu s t ome r s o f t e n h a d
grandiose ideas wanting cakes that
looked to serve 500 or more when
they only had a budget for 100
invited guests, but in their mind’s
eye they also wanted to fill up a
vestibule with a massive wedding cake centerpiece. Was it my
fault their guest list did not match the vision? No, it is business.
About 20 years ago, you dreamt of and conceptualized an
international sugar arts show where artisans could gather to
compete, learn and expand the craft. However, your idea to
hold this show in Tulsa, OKwas initially met with skepticism.
Describe the first iteration and the initial years of what is
now the phenomenally successful Oklahoma State Sugar
Art Show.
Initially I think I was a bit of joke when I approached some of
the movers and shakers in the industry with my ideas of world-
class competition in of all places Tulsa, Oklahoma. An idea that
I hatched with my friend Maxine Boyington of Oklahoma now
sadly deceased. I forged ahead regardless of the naysayers and
now, believe it or not, some of them have become my friends
and I have earned their respect. Maxine believed in the concept
of divisions and categories but blanched when I wanted to create
the wedding cake competition; not only would the competitor
create the cake but they would have to design and dress the
perfect table to put it on. I went that alone. After the first successful
event she said, “I guess you are going to say I told you so.” I said,
I wasn’t but now that you mention it...”
This idea was driven by the fact that after spending weeks
creating beautiful artwork I would deliver a cake to a wedding
reception only to find a ghastly cloth covered table that should
have been retired or an unsuitable cloth; picture a traditional
elegant ivory dogwood cake
parked on a purple, gold and
greenMardi Gras cloth fromNew
Orleans – just awful. All roads
lead to Rome and in this case
Rome for cake artists is Tulsa, OK
who would have thought?
Ge o g r a p h i c a l l y p e r f e c t ,
equidistant for all artists from all
points of the nation. Stick a
compass in the center of Tulsa
and you will see what I mean.
With over 80,000 visitors to this
year’s show, even you must be
surprised by the size and scope
of the event.
I love it. The entire event is run
on a shoestring budget of a few
thousand dollars support from
dozens of sponsors, and a few
volunteers on the day. No one is
paid. Loydene Barrett controls
contestant registration and table
layout, I manage everything else;
booking presenters, dealing with
sponsors, prize packages – money
and p roduc t , r u l e s and
regulations and all onsite activity.
I would be remiss if I did not
mention the incredible support frommy husband Doug, frankly
he would rather be fishing! LOL.
What exciting trends did you see at this year’s show?
Each year I personally encourage the competitors to surprise
me and create new techniques and each year I see that. So funny
this year, contestants were all of a dither, because the theme
Wedding Cakes Rock! was really theme-less, any romantic
design was in order but make it rock. They found that hard
seems they prefer a definitive thought to follow and want a
specific theme. If I had been a competitor I would have been
jumping with glee – so open to interpretation! Color was
stronger and more vibrant than past years; techniques varied
widely and stacked style still prevails.
Kerry’s La Belle du Jour
32
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