Sunday, May 12, 2013

Entering the Big Time

You guys! I only have two more weeks of being a teacher! Then, I'll be a professional cake decorator. It's simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

So much to do!

But I wanted to take a minute to blog about my experience at the Georgia ICES meeting last weekend. GA ICES are good people, y'all.

There was an announcement on the GA ICES Facebook page a few weeks ago, asking for people to do demos that the spring meeting. I thought, "Hey, if I want to teach cake decorating at the bakery, I should take advantage of this opportunity to practice cake talking in front of people!"
So, I clicked the e-mail and volunteered to do a demo. Woot! I was on my way! After all, if I could demo in front of people who have been caking longer than me, I shouldn't be nervous teaching the evening cake classes at the bakery. No problem!

Wait. One problem. The week before the demo, I would be in quarantine* away from home. I wouldn't be able to prepare any food stuffs for the meeting.

So I decided to offer a demo on cake stands. Cute, fancy, or tacky cake stands to enhance the presentation of your cakes. I could make the stands in quarantine since they were non-edible. Plus, I'd get to use my hot glue gun. I love my hot glue gun... probably more than is appropriate.

So, I put together some cake stands, and, when the day came, loaded up the car and headed to northeast Nowhere, GA. It was a cool, rainy day. Very rainy. The river or lake or tributary that I crossed over was very high. And the bridge across it was... creatively repaired. But I made it safely to the Lion's Club Hall up there in WhereamI, GA.

Here's what you need to know about ICES. The International Cake Exploration Society is an organization for cake decorators. It's mostly women, and those women know their way around a kitchen. When they get together, they cook and bake for each other. Now, imagine a group of the BEST church lady cooks from all over the South getting together. They bring food, but because  they're bringing it to other cooks, they pull out all the stops (and put in all the butter). The Tennessee ICES meetings usually span two days and the food that gets made there... holy cow. I was expecting some good treats at the GA ICES meeting, and they didn't disappoint.

There was good food. There were good people. There were awesome demos from great cake decorators. And then it was my turn.

Now, at the beginning of the meeting, we'd gone around the room and introduced ourselves. In the back, there was a table of older ladies. During the introduction, I found out that they have been decorating cakes for over fifty years (each). Gulp. And, they were founding members of ICES. Holy geez, it's like royalty. During the demos, they sat quietly at their table (some attached to oxygen tanks), seemingly unimpressed by what they were seeing. It was intimidating.

And then it was my turn.

I've been teaching in one way or another for fifteen years. At zoos, as a public school teacher, at universities. I've talked to all kinds of groups of people. But seeing the Cake Volturi in the back during this demonstration made me nervous. And when I'm nervous, I go faster.

I dragged my huge box of cake stands to the demo table and introduced myself.

"Hi, y'all! I'm Mandi Buckalew and I am so excited to be here. Thank you so much for letting me do a demonstration for you today! Let's talk about cake stands."

I talked about how, with Pinterest and Etsy, people are looking for more of a display with their cakes. I talked about how ridiculously expensive cake stands are. I talked about how much I love my hot glue gun- may have lapsed into a haiku during that part.

Then, I started showing off the cake stands I'd made. They were relative inexpensive and easy to make and everybody seemed pretty impressed. Even the Cake Volturi in the back.

Y'all. When those veteran veteran veteran cake decorators looked interested in my cake stands... there are no words. That was a huge feeling. I still can't believe that happened.

After my demo, people took pictures of my cake stands! And they got posted on the GA ICES Facebook page. I'm a big deal, apparently.

But wait. On my way out, one of the Volturi (I terrible with names, so I'll call her Aro) came over to thank me for my "creativity and enthusiasm" during my demo. I still squee inside when I remember that part.

So, here are some of my creative and enthusiastic cake stands. I'll be offering custom cake stands to go with the custom cakes when the shop opens.

There are better pictures on the Georgia ICES Facebook page.

Next stop: Finding the perfect place for the bakery!

*Quarantine: I haven't really talked about the whole cancer thing on the Cakeapotamus pages, but I feel fine about sharing it now that it's over. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in November. Two surgeries, one round of radiation, and now I'm in remission. Piece of cake.

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