Friday, April 29, 2011

Half Way There!

Yes I know that I have been slack at updating this blog however, if you were in my shoes right now, you would completely understand why.

Just when I thought that things couldn’t get any more crazy around here, along comes Easter at Planet Cake.

So, there I was, executing a skill boosting task that was assigned to me by Paris, when mayhem slammed through the doors and dropped the ultimate bomb on us.

The request? A 2 meter high mad hatter cake to be presented at the Royal Easter Show…IN 2 DAYS TIME!!!!

Me? Panic? Hell yeah!!!!

Under Anna Marias guidance, Michelle, Anna Maria and I set to work carving ginormous blocks of Styrofoam into mad hatter tiers to make this monster. By the days end, I had mammoth blisters on my hands, every inch of my body was aching and you don’t even want to know where I found styro pellets!

The next morning, it was bright and early into work to try and complete this huge cake by the end of the day.

After adding cake, ganaching, colouring 34 kg of fondant, making the biggest bow you ever saw, covering the cake in angled stripes ( a skill that I had desperately wanted to learn but had never predicted it to be on such a scale!) , a top tier disaster, stacking and re stacking and adding every detail via a step ladder, team ‘MAMMOTH MAD HATTER’ ( AKA Anna Maria, Michelle and Myself), finally downed tools at around 10pm, stood back and marvelled at what we had achieved.

Honestly, a few hours prior to completion, I didn’t know if it was ever going to get done. All I can say is thank heavens for Paris’ stash of Red Bull that we swiped. 3 cans of that battery bevvy scooted me over the finish line and what a sense of elation and pride I had at the days end. Looking up at the worlds biggest mad hatter, I can truthfully say that every second was worth it.

I could have easily slept for a week afterwards but it wasn’t to be. Come Saturday morning, rain hail or shine ( and rain it did) the cake was to be presented to the recipient at the royal Easter Show which meant a super early start in order to be at the gates at 8.30am.

The crowds gathered in the pavilion and one very surprised Michael Collins accepted his cake as a token of his 20 years as the shows general manager. Needless to say, there was plenty of cake for everyone!

The rest of the day was spent enjoying all that the show has to offer including food on sticks, showbags, animals and rides that successfully and permanently shift every vital organ in your body at least half an inch. I am glad I chose to eat AFTER the rides if you get my drift.

With fellow intern Michelle
The following few days were my 1st opportunity to actually experience Sydneys icons including the Harbour bridge, Luna Park, the Opera House and, most importantly, the Opera bar! LOL

Although the breather was a much needed one, it also meant heading back into the kitchen with only a 3 day week ahead and , just because it was only a 3 day week, it didn’t change the amount of cakes that needed to be completed.

I watched, in awe, as Anna Maria and Neoko built the most regal of wedding cakes in honour of the upcoming royal nuptuals and, once again, it was done both flawlessly and in record time.

All the while I focused on the three cakes that I had been assigned for the week. Due to a trip back home and a false start on Thursday morning, I only had a day and a half to get them all done.

It soon dawned on me that I had bitten off more than I could chew when I realised that there was a slight change of plans with one of the cakes due to some ‘technical difficulties’ and now needed to almost completely hand paint the decorations. It certainlytook me a lot longer than was originally anticipated.

I did however manage to complete two and a half of them before finally running out the door at 8.30pm last night in time to catch my flight back to Melbourne for the weekend.

So, here I am, resting in my own lounge room with my husband and should be concentrating on the break yet all I can seem to think about is what new and mammoth tasks await for me in the kitchen next week!

I am almost half way through my internship and yet I have so much yet to learn. Every day is something new, exciting and, well, exhausting but I wouldn’t trade this experience with anyone.

I look forward to getting home and putting everything that I have learned here at Planet Cake into practise. The closer it gets to the end, the more mixed feelings I have about what lies ahead.

I can’t wait to finally be back at home with my family, in my town yet I will miss all of my new family at Planet Cake terribly. I have fears about how I can possibly succeed without the guidanceand regular kick up the backside from Paris and the skillful hand of Anna Maria. There will be no Jess to protect me, no Lesley to hug and vent to and no Michelle to share the experience with. There will be no Emma to run the show so flawlessly and check up with me on how I am feeling and no Cat to bring me my late night Pizza and make me laugh. There will ,however, be a new woman in town, ready to take on all of the challenges presented to me and an entirely new set of skills and tools to tackle them with.

I can confidently say that I could not have even contemplated the future for myself that I do now without this opportunity.

I will forever be indebted to the amazing team at Planet Cake and I can’t wait to see what lies around the next corner!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Well, to be honest, this week takes the cake ( pardon the pun) as the biggest roller coaster ride I have been on in a very long time.

To begin with I was assigned 5 cakes this week, which is the biggest assignment yet and I felt well up to the challenge however, after teaching the cupcake bites class over the weekend, thus having Monday off, I felt well behind the 8 ball starting on a Tuesday. By the time I arrived on Tuesday, the rest of the team had all of their cakes ganached and were busy covering their cakes for the week.

Margie teaching Lesley and myself how to make the seals for Cupcake Bites

I had to get moving on my work and, come Tuesday evening, I must admit, that a bit of panic had set in. I am, by far, the slowest in the kitchen at setting up cakes ( which I suppose is to be expected due to my severe lack of experience in comparison to the rest of the team) so it literally took me an entire day to prep all of my cakes ready for covering and decorating.

To make things even tighter, Wednesday I was assigned the duty of making ganache for the following weeks orders. A whole 90 odd litres of it! All I can say is, thank goodness for my angel in disguise. My amazing work colleague and, as of this week, new room mate ( woohoo) Lesley, was there to save the day at around 60 litres of gooey chocolate goodness in and took over my ganache making post to allow me to get into the production kitchen and start covering my cakes ready for decorating.

On to decorating it was. The first order for the week was one of our gorgeous online christening cakes and, just to add a little more pressure, I was told that the original collection time for the cake had been moved forward to a morning collection on Thursday rather than an afternoon one!

With the first cake done and assessed by Paris as a “couture cake that I should be very happy with” it was on to the next with a sense of pride and elation.

The iconic Tiffany box was next on the list but things didn’t go so well with this one. Whilst on her rounds Paris questioned where the template for the logo that I had painted on the box had come from. It was incorrect and needed to be fixed. I felt so crushed! I have a tendency to be quite hard on myself and want everything to be perfect so, when this happened I felt as though I had let Paris, Planet cake and myself down.

The criticism put me into a tail spin and I felt so scattered. All of my organisation and scheduling went out the window and, before long, I felt myself falling way behind with my deadlines.

Emma came to my rescue and assisted me with finishing off the other 2 cakes that were to be completed by the days end. I felt so deflated and annoyed with myself for letting something like constructive criticism throw me off so badly. Certainly a lesson learned!

The week wasn’t all negative though. I managed to set up and cover my first cylinder cake with great success and I was the very proud winner of the in house design competition for the fortnight. Those factors, along with the fact that Paris praised my cake as couture and has entrusted me to my first wedding cake next week reinforces that I must be on the right track.

Quite honestly, I was so happy to walk away from work on Friday night and leave the rollercoaster week behind me but it has only stoked the fire in my decorators belly to kick some major cake butt next week!