It’s only recently struck me just how powerful building an online following is in the cake world. It’s astonishing how some of the most talented people I have seen are practically celebrities in their own right purely through their enormous facebook followings when in any other era, they would simply be craftspeople with enormous talent and a local following in their immediate geographic vicinity. Blogs are a great example of this and I’ve met two of my favourite bloggers recently who I want to shine a spotlight on this post.
The first is Mandy Mele-Daniels: best known for her blog on her own French Culinary Institute adventure which was re-posted by Ron Ben-Israel when the cake course he developed was first launched. At one stage I think Mandy had thousands of readers just through Chef Ron’s plug alone. After several failed attempts to catch up thwarted by weather and bad NY public transport, we finally met up in my last week in New York at the iconic Plaza Hotel. In true sweet tooth form we sampled nearly every cake on offer at the beautiful food hall under the famous hotel and chewed the fat (translation for non-Aussies: had a good chat) over our experiences at the French Culinary Institute and about the cake industry in general. Mandy was responsible for enlightening me about my FCI adventure and giving me some fantastic advice that ultimately culminated in my trip to New York so to finally meet her was just brilliant.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Mandy’s husband Brian who was just a great, great guy. Listening to Mandy and Brian reminisce about their caking stories when Mandy first started making cakes, I realised just how similar our paths had been. In many ways Brian also reminded me of the great unsung heroes in the cake world – a.k.a. the thousands of tolerant husbands/partners out there supporting their wives/other halves each pursuing their own caking adventures!! So this post is partly also a tribute to all of these nameless, faceless other halves who don’t get any credit for the beautiful cakes we make every day.
So here’s my THANK YOU to all the supportive husbands/partners out there (including mine!) for all the times they:
– put up with getting shooed out of the kitchen at 1am in the morning when they worriedly check on their cake-obsessed wives frantically finishing an order for the next day;
– suffer minor heart attacks whenever they have to drive a cake to its destination;
– attempt to roll fondant out only to be told they are hopeless when they were just trying to help;
– are forced to ganache cupcakes or be guinea pigs for new classes their wives are about to teach (usually against their will because all they care about is eating the cake, not decorating it)
My awesome Mr Cakespeare
The other famous blogger I met was Sharon Wee. After returning home from New York, I decided I needed some inspiration and decided to meet with as many cake industry greats as I could and Sharon was one of the first.
Sharon’s an incredible Australian talent who has over 7,000 followers on facebook and I have been reading her blog “Wee Love Baking” for some time. Sharon was fantastically humble, open and generous in her knowledge and time.
When we met for what was supposed to be an hour long coffee, we both realised nearly FOUR hours later that we’d been neglecting our partners for a very big chunk of a Sunday afternoon just to indulge in “cakie chat”… After trading a multitude of cake stories we guiltily hurried home and back to the real world…. I felt almost lighter after this conversation – enlightened with new knowledge but also very inspired and motivated to keep pursuing my passion. It was just a great shot in the arm after trying to transition back into the “real world” from a surreal 3 months away.
It’s through these types of conversations that I grow as a cake artist and also expand my knowledge of the industry. What I’m fast learning is that the cake world is vast, complex and very much a dynamic industry. It is not perfect by any stretch but with the right level of dedication, motivation and creativity, it can be an intensely rewarding one. It’s not without its drawbacks or politics (just like any other industry) and I am quickly learning that the only way to really navigate tricky waters is to stay out of them completely.
The funniest thing is, practically no cake artist starts out seeking fame – all we want to do is create cakes and make a positive impact on people’s lives through edible art. I’m very fortunate to be in a position where I can be selective in what I choose to do and focus on improving my skills purely for artistry’s sake and not have to make cakes just to pay the mortgage. It’s for this reason I continue to work as a management consultant and most of all, I enjoy being able to balance exercising my right and left side of my brain every day. I don’t think many people could say that and I feel very fortunate that I have a world of opportunity beckoning before me right now. That’s not to say that one day I won’t pursue things much more seriously but for now, I’ve realised that getting exposure and experience is the most important thing to me and I plan on giving my all to anything and every opportunity that comes my way. Then hopefully one day I’ll reach a completely different summit in my life.
In the mean time, I’ll continue to blog about my adventures. Coming up in the next couple of months.. an inverted wine bottle cake, a couple of very cool wedding cakes and some giant sugar flowers! Can’t wait to share it with you all 🙂