Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Next Generation

Besides my fun job creating cakes for weddings and any other celebration we can think of(there's always a reason to eat cake), I am also a chef instructor at a culinary school. Three days a week for five weeks each quarter, I share my experience and ideas with the next generation of pastry chefs, bakers and cake decorators. All that new energy and enthusiasm.
Aren't those all the same thing you ask? Not really. Every industry has it's own vocabulary and sub sects within the general category. I know I have generalized other industries, so here is my contribution to culinary clarity:
The culinary world breaks down first into savory or sweet-definite personality differences here. Just put them in the same room together and listen to them talk. Then the sweet side breaks down even further. Bakers and Pastry Chefs have very different traits. Think bread(really good bread, artisan bread, not grocery store sliced bread). Then think of those amazing plated desserts with intricate garnishes of sugar, chocolate or whisper thin cookies. Completely separate disciplines and patience requirements.
I, myself, have the patience to sit making gumpaste flowers or pipe designs for hours, but would rather just eat my bread instead of making it. No patience in that whole waiting for the yeast to rise thing! Now ask a baker to pipe cornelli lace on a cake. Do you hear the screaming?
Cake decorators/designers are sometimes most focused on the outside of a cake. I am originally a pastry chef by training and career path and have tried to combine the best of both worlds for my cake company. I love to eat, so flavor combinations have always been my thing.
What will the next generation bring to the world? Can't wait to see.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Saw It!

In a past bolg, I talked about the cake I did for the Shriner's Children's Hospital back in December. The party was a great event with a Breakfast with Santa the next morning. Judy had worked very hard to make both events memorable to the staff and their families, and in a recent chat, she shared what a great hit Santa was. There were several cute stories. How could there be anything else when you mix Santa and kids?

Here's my favorite.

Ninety kids and their families got to meet with Santa, sit on his lap and have a great meal. At the end of the event, a little boy, maybe 3, was walking out with his grandfather. He stopped, turned around and stared and stared and stared into Santa's eyes. Santa looked back, waiting, but not quite sure what was expected of him.

After some minutes of looking intently at Santa, the little boy looked up at his grandfather and said, " I saw it!"

The grandfather, a bit mystified, asked. "You saw what?".

The boy replied, " I saw the twinkle."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Wedding Fair

Sunday was Twin City Bridal Association's January Wedding Fair. Hundreds of vendors display their best ideas, designs and concepts. I was there with my new cupcakes and three of my more colorful cakes.

I have to thank Ryan Hanson of BeEvents for the great job he did on my booth. It wouldn't have been as gorgeous without his design. And another thank you for my cakes being included in more than one newscast.

The Wedding Fair allows me to reach a large group of brides with my new designs, but also where I can meet new vendors and reconnect with established vendors I might not have seen for a while. It is a great time to catch up and say hello.

One of those vendors is Summer Harsh. Recently of Stems and Vines, she has just launched her own floral company: Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry. She is hugely talented and will surely be successful in her new venture. Her work is amazing.
The day is busy and flies by. I appreciate the day after to put my feet up and recover a bit.

Now it's all about appointments and planning with the brides I met. An exciting time full of promise and expectation.

The 2009 season has officially started!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Color, Trends and Inspiration

There are always questions about trends. Trends in fashion, trends in design, trends in cakes. It is all a trickle down effect from Red Carpet fashions to home decor colors, to wedding gown embellishments, to wedding cake design. So many things to inspire, influence and spark creativity.

Here in the Twin Cities, what I have noticed most in the last year or so, is that the all white wedding cake is now sharing the spotlight with colorful, whimsical, non-traditional creations. The insides too have included less white cake with white frosting, and more chocolate cake and other more exotic combinations, to offer a very memorable "first seen, last eaten" part of this special day.

The Wedding Guys(Matthew Trettel and Bruce Vasser) are on Fox 9's Morning Show this morning to talk about wedding cakes. They asked if I could provide some cakes for this morning's segment.Of course I said yes and sent off 4 cakes that show what has influenced me lately: a footstool created from Kasmir shawls, the movie Marie Antoinette, a gorgeous wedding gown with beautiful stiching, a shoji screen from a sushi restaurant. Hopefully they will get at least a camera span.

A recent cake that illustrated this non-traditional color and flavor trend went to Katrina of Studio Laguna for her Christmas celebration. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting all wrapped up in the most elegant, rich blues with white accents. Cool colors to complement this chilly(okay, downright frigid!) season.

Be inspired, and create your perfect day.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

12 Days Of Cake

I have had the pleasure of creating the 12 Days of Christmas in cake for Staci Matthews from KS95. The 12 Days of Christmas are the days of feasting that begin on Christmas Day and culminate on January 6, the beginning of Epiphany on the Church calendar. The practice began in the Middle Ages, changes have been made to the traditions through the centuries, but Staci and I are all about playing with cake.

Our 12 Days of Cake will be ending next week instead of today so there is still fun to be had. Everday is a different flavor of cake and buttercream. After the 4 Colly Birds(some have interpreted this as Calling Birds), I had to stop making the number of items per day so that there could be actual cake to eat and not just fondant and decorative items. This has been a fun project and I will be sad when it is over.

I have taken pictures everyday and I know that Staci has blogged and photographed her treats everyday as well. Here are day 6 and 8, all tied up with a bow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Each November I always believe that the upcoming January will be a quiet, expectant, pre-season period for planning, not to mention a time for relaxing after the flurry of the Holidays and the last of the wedding season. For me, 2009 started with a bang.

I rang in the New Year with a wedding on New Year's Day with 3 more events to round out the weekend. Add in some tasting appointments and a couple of last minute parties, and life is good. And, my first new product order went out. Whoo Hoo!

Which brings me to the best news. The end of 2008 ushered in many changes to Jessica's Cakes. A new logo and ad to update and freshen the look. The website, still emerging, was completely overhauled. This task was long overdue and we still have a page or two to finish. I also added cupcakes, cameo cakes and sweet table offerings to the menu to compliment the tiered wedding cakes and table cakes. I am so happy to say orders for groom's cakes increased by an amazing number over the past year. It's exciting because they are so fun to make!

There are many challenges left for everyone thanks to 2008, but it's not difficult to be optimistic when we take a moment to look at all we've been given, not what's been taken away. So, goodbye 2008 and Happy New Year!