I haven't been in the mood to update, its becoming a usual phenomenon for me which I think is getting detrimental. Does anyone feel this way too? Its only been 2 weeks not decorating cakes and I feel I'm being pulled down to hell. When everyone is raving over how french pastries are amazing; the perfect layers of croissants, how puff pastries should be done.. & so on, somehow the cake decorators are left aside, because many doesn't understand what are cake decorators doing. Sometimes, I just want to shun away from the crowd, because of this phenomenon.
It is the same reason why, when a dozen of friends come up to me and ask, why didn't you do to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris? Why not French Pastry School in Chicago? I find it, in fact it is getting frustrating when I have to explain to everyone that a Pastry Chef is a huge difference from being a Cake Decorator.
This article speaks my mind, clearly, undoubtedly, explicitly, just how much I want to explain to everyone how I feel, how much I want to emphasize how true this is; the good and the bad; the honour and the jealously; this is exactly what my heart is screaming. Thank you Kaysie Lackey, for such a well-written article. You taught me not to be ashamed of being a cake decorator, anymore, even if we stick to the most basic swiss buttercreams, fondant and royal icing all our lives, we still create new creations and designs, endlessly. And let jealously only be good in making us improve ourselves in what we do, and not change what we love to do - decorating a cake.
CAKE DECORATOR IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.
"Cake decorator. Cake artist. Supreme deity of all things frosted. Call us what you will. We are self-taught or educated through local classes. We own our own business or work the counter at the local grocery store. We are the majority of people in the cake world, but there is one thing we are not: Pastry Chefs.
And that's okay.
Don't get me wrong, there can be a case of "grass-is-greener" when it comes to this distinction. We've all been there, hanging out with our pastry chef friends when they are discussing their hot, new plated dessert or some newly-launched bonbon line. They toss around terms we don't understand, and discuss about techniques we can't even begin to fathom. We feel we are on the outside looking in, we are often met with a (somewhat) snide, "You wouldn't understand, you're not a pastry chef."
Such a comment can be enough to make a decorator want to drop everything and run to the nearest culinary school and enrol. We too shall make truffles and choux, and we'll do everything we can to master the art of all things sweet. We will learn classic techniques and no longer be left guessing in conversations. We will become stronger, faster, better; shedding the lowly moniker of a cake decorator and rise phoenix-like from our buttercream to embrace our future of pastry chef-dom.
But why do we feel this way? Why is being just a cake decorator thought of as a bad thing? Are we unfulfilled by our jobs? or do we just feel the need to do it all? Do we feel lesser for not having shelled out $40K to learn our craft, or because it is touted as being something anyone can do? When did a cake decorator become a dirty word? We admit, yes, maybe there is the tiniest bit of jealousy towards pastry chef for all their specialised training. We can bake a mean cake, but occasionally feel like maybe, just maybe, we are missing out on something for not having gone to school to learn how to make it. --- But, do we really want to be pastry chefs? Sure, we would live to learn how to make delicious bread, but do we want to get up at 4am to make 300 baguettes? Hell no. We love eating eclairs, but having to fill dozens everyday creates a desire to commit mass murder. And while the dessert at a fancy French restaurant is very pretty, the thought of making and plating the same dish ad infinitum makes us want to drown ourselves in a vat of raspberry coulis.
We are cake decorators. We need to mix it up a bit. Being a cake decorator is awesome! We get to be creative and make art every week. We are not found by menus or production quotas. We get to customizise designs for our clients, and we early make the same cake twice. One week it is an elegant white wedding cake, the next may be a topsy turvy birthday cake. From a simple buttercream rose to a bleeding armadillo groom's cake, our job is fun. So why would we be jealous? Decorating is by no means an easy job, but we live for it. It is what gets us out of bed in the morning and keep us going during the friday all-nighter. We live for the rush to completing a cake and seeing our vision come to life. Nothing feels better than the moment of euphoria experiences when customers smile from seeing a master-piece that was created especially for them.
Are there downsides to our job? Of course. Clients can be annoying. Baking can often be a frustrating experience because most of us don't know why now cake turns our better than another. No matter how carefully we mix, out buttercream always has air bubbles that don't want to be smoothed out. Covering a cake in fondant usually involves enough swearing to make a sailor blush. And yes, squaring up dozens of tiers can get a little tedious. But we preserve, knowing that the next step is what we love to do.
So let them have their mille fois and tartlets. Let them make croissants until their arms fall off. Give us a piping bag and an offset spatula any day. We are cake decorators. And we're proud of it."
For me, it's not about doing a cartoon character cake or a toy car, or a Hermes bag cake. I mean I can do those, it is also part of cake decorating, but I don't enjoy doing it. For me, its about designing something from scratch and from the inspirations I get from the nature. Which is why I chose to apply for an internship with Maggie Austin Cake. It's her artistic focus to cakes that attracts me and is the main element I admire so much, how she translates her love and passion for ballet into gorgeous wedding cakes, THAT is what cake decorating means to me. I'd like to see it as a form of Art. Of course it sure means different things to different people. Ever since I found what I truly love, I never want to do any other Chanel bag cakes anymore. Why would you want to eat your bag?
Thank you, Kaysie Lackey; for putting an imaginary hands around my shoulders and encouraging me, for telling us that even though we do completely different things as pastry chefs, we still put in an equally amount of hard work and that people will admire, & thank you for pushing me on when I'm feeling down. I know this is just part of the journey, and I will bring myself up from here. X
Have a great weekend everyone!