Cake International London – Part 1: The Competition
You daydream about entering a contest. How can you do that?
We asked Sylvia Elba, a seasoned ex-contestant, the creator of the world-famous Weddible Dress to share the most important information on competing at Cake International.
Sylvia says that the registration to the next contest starts about two months after the previous competition.
The registration is open to anyone; there are no prerequisites, you don't even have to be a baker or cake decorator by profession. Hobbyists, stay-at-home moms, students and even children can apply by filling out an online form.
Along with the confirmation of their application, contestants get their entry cards to the venue so that they can transport their competition pieces without complication.
Oh yes, transport, because the cakes are not made at the venue. Contestants only have 90 minutes to fully prepare their entries at the venue. Sylvia advises contestants to fully prepare the cake at home, then take them apart, wrap them up in shock proof packaging to prevent damages.
Although Cake International is only open for the visitors for two days, Saturday and Sunday, the contestants already set up their pieces on Friday, so that the judges some "me time" evaluating the cakes without being interrupted by questions from the visitors, press and of course, contestants.
After the judges did their share of revision and evaluation the results are announced on Saturday and the award ceremony is held on Sunday.
I got pretty confused by the apparent discrepancies between medals and placements.
Sylvia explains, that the reason for this is that the judges at Cake International try to be very encouraging, fair and also extremely objective.
Therefore the medals and evaluations reflect the overall quality of the work. Although she could not go details in here, but we can assume that it might entail the smoothness of the fondant coverage, preciseness of the royal icing details and even the handling of cake boards.
"Certificate of Merit"
This evaluation is given to those works that show the creator's talent and where -despite the space for improvement- with some practice, there is a high potential for future success.
Bronze, Silver and Gold
Medals show the different levels of quality but we can say that to take home either one of them, enormous amounts of talent and dedication is required.
Contestants can enter the competition in several categories even at the same competition -this time in London this number was 16 - but Sylvia warns the over-enthusiastic would be contestants of running the risk of under delivering due to split attention.
Although there can be multiple gold medals awarded in each class, as the Cake International judges try to stay objective by awarding every single entry that surpasses a certain limit for quality, rather then trying to pick only one gold, silver and bronze based on , say, personal preference towards the theme of the cake.
Placements, however, serve as different kinds of measurement. One 1st, 2nd and 3rd place is given in every single class, even if there happens not to be a gold medal in that category. That way even a bronze medalist can take home the first place in her class, if in that class hers was the best entry.
Another interesting thing we have seen at Cake International, were the "Not to Schedule" signs
There are pretty strict rules and regulations regarding the entries to every class. Say, in an class that is to showcase edible pieces, there is no place for non-edible decorations and this actually works vice versa. This is how it could happen that some incredible creations got disqualified.
Well, they say, the devil is in the detail and although this is definitely not Hell's Kitchen, but no stone's left unturned by the benevolent, but meticulous judges of Cake International to ensure the highest quality of this internationally renowned event that has been held every year form more than 22 years!
"Best in Show"
This award goes to the cake that is not only of highest quality but is special in some way. Conveys a message, teaches something or just draws extra attention to itself.
This year it was Dawn Butler's Einstein Cake.
"Best in Class"
This title is awarded to the cake that somehow excels in its class, although this is only given on special occasions.
As you can see, there are several awards to be won, effort and dedication is the currency here and Sylvia says that in her experience the goal of Cake International judges here is to encourage everyone to not to impose limits on their art, be and feel good about themselves and let their creative juices flow.
There were 450 pieces entered to Cake International London 2016 and they expect about 1200 entries for Cake International Birmingham in November.
Who knows... one of those might be yours?