Well dear readers it’s been a week-long recovery from a pretty huge caking weekend last week. The weekend of 5-6 February was the inaugural Everything Baking and Cake Convention which was a combination of local exhibitors showcasing their wares and a series of specialised workshops where you could learn from some of the most renown cake artists in Australia and from around the world.
My first reaction to the word “Convention” made me think of those Star Wars or Comic Book Conventions where a bunch of crazy loonies get together and indulge in a secret fantasy life or hobby that probably none of their friends or family really understand and usually just tolerate. I never thought that one day I’d be one of those people much less be blogging about the experience. Nor did I think it would be baking and cake-related.
This event was the first of its kind in Australia for so many reasons.
The biggest drawcard by far was the man at the centre of the infamous show, Cake Boss: Buddy Valastro.
The show airs on Lifestyle Food in Australia and The Lifestyle Channel (TLC) in the USA. It’s also shown in about 180 countries in the world and just started filming its 5th season. The following it has built is astonishing but if you stopped an average person on the street, chances are they may not have heard of this show. On the other hand, if you meet a fan they’ll generally say “Oh my god I love that show!” and are probably obsessed. Well imagine a few thousand “Oh my god I love that show” people gathered in one place on the other side of Australia and that was the atmosphere for about 2 days.
Day 1 of my trip was pretty amazing. I arrived the day before the Convention and actually kicked the trip off doing some real work (gasp) and made a presentation at work to our Perth team about a project I’m currently working which I spent the 5 hour flight preparing for. Presentation went great and it was my first time in Perth so I had this wide-eyed touristy look on my face even though I hadn’t even left my own country. I really was amazed at how green everything was and the laidback pace of the city.
I was staying at a hotel directly opposite the Convention Centre and in the cab on the way from work to the hotel I had one of those moments where my heart literally hit the floor. I had forgotten my tickets to the Cake Convention. “Amy, you idiot!” I hear you silently exclaiming.. yes, dear reader, in the crazy couple of days leading up to the trip, I managed to forget my tickets. So I’m in the cab trying to call the organisers and of course they’re not answering probably because they’re setting up for the convention the next day.
Pulling up to my hotel, I see a guy in a purple shirt with -lo and behold! a couple of the convention organisers pointing across to the convention centre (probably discussing his show the next day). Then I realised it was Mr Cake Boss himself. Mentally flipping out (outwardly very calm), I paid the cab driver and sauntered on over and said hello to the man. What must have been the first of about 1000 photo requests that weekend, he got one of his entourage people to take a photo of us on my phone and asked if I was going to show and where I’d come from. To which I replied I’d had a pretty early flight over from Sydney, feeling a bit jetlagged already and he said “You’re jetlagged?! how do you think I feel!” (the guy came from Hoboken New Jersey the day before).
Instead of capitalising on my 2 min conversation with Buddy and asking him for a job or something far more constructive, I was more focused on getting my ticketing issue sorted so to turned to the organisers and asked if they could help. They pointed me in the right direction but I did walk away thinking “hmm, probably could have used those 2 minutes a bit better. oh well”.
Now here’s where I need to thank Farrah who was one of the lovely event managers working for Cake Artists Australia – such a helpful lady who got me sorted in 5 minutes flat. We had a great chat about bringing the convention to the East Coast of Australia next year and I may try to help make this happen!!
Now contrary to popular belief, I had already bought my tickets to see Buddy Valastro live in Sydney before I heard about the convention so my primary reason for going all the way to the other side of the country was actually to learn from some amazing cake artists, not stalk Buddy Valastro.
To read more about my workshops, take a look at these links:
Madhatter Lalique Piping with Jean Michel Raynaud
Glamour Finishes with Faye Cahill
Baby Castle with Debbie Brown (coming soon)
For those of you who follow my Facebook page you would have seen that I also ended up on the flight back with Buddy Valastro.
So I’m minding my own business in the Virgin lounge, trying desperately to not fall asleep at what was the equivalent to 3am Sydney time before we boarded and Buddy rocks up again with his entourage of about 3 people. The funniest part is he went straight to buffet, didn’t see any food (it was 11:30pm) and walked straight back out to find a restaurant. I’d booked my flight home on Business so I could get some sleep before going back to work the next day (red eyes from Perth suck by the way) and the first thought I had was “oh crap there goes any sleep I was going to have”. As we boarded the plane, Buddy and crew rock up again! And we were literally the only 5 passengers in Business and boarded the plane first.There I was holding my two dummy cake boxes and a giant handbag and he’s all dressed up in a suit not looking like a working class baker at all.
I have to say they were a very noisy bunch, joking and laughing a lot for that time of night (it was midnight), and he did recognise me again (he must have a good memory for faces) and said “hey! we meet again!”. I think he was probably surprised that a lowly cake maker like me was boarding in Business. We chatted on the way to the plane and I may or may not have paid them out for talking so loudly (seriously if you didn’t know he was a famous TV personality you would have been like why are these people so loud!). This was one of those times I was secretly glad that I travelled so much for work as my Platinum status actually meant I was seated in front of Buddy. I never thought I would say this but the guy talked a lot. And Americans are LOUD. Sorry to my American friends reading this but maybe it’s just these Noo Joisey people. After eavesdropping on his conversation with Mauro (who btw is my FAVOURITE character/personality on Cake Boss) discussing the Superbowl, I finally plugged in my earphones to try and get some sleep… Landing in Sydney I decided I needed to try and get something to commemorate my plane trip with the Boss so he kindly signed my boarding pass and I charged off to meet my driver as I was already running late for work… a pretty fitting finale to a big caking weekend!
For my pics from his Sydney Cake Boss show at the Sydney Convention Centre, click the picture below.
So all in all, a pretty excellent trip. And my cakes got home safe and sound with only 1 broken flower on the madhatter and a slightly cracked tower on my baby castle cake to report… hoorah.