Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cake Assassin's

I don't like to talk about it, or them.

In fact, I've spent the majority of my career trying to mentally block these people out, but I simply wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't report to you guys about the world of the cake decorater.

People who work with cakes are typically loners, indaviduals who can hold focus, as long as they don't have to exchange pleasantries with others.

Cake decoraters are the "HITMAN" of the culinary world, in fact some have speculated that Lee Harvey Oswald made a mean Red Velvet cake.

There personality traits are manic in nature, they prefer solitude, and if they are completely honest.....they think they are 14 time better than you.

Before we talk about this unusual ilk, perhaps it would be better to start with the industry that serves as their stomping grounds.

Ever since the Pigrims stepped foot onto America, retail bakeries were where families would go to buy their cakes.

From the 1700's, even into my childhood this fact rung true.

If you were born in the USA before 1970, I am willing to bet a monkey to a dollar that you had a cozy little Ma and Pa bake shop on a corner in your neighborhood.

From New York to Los Angelos retails bakeries were the thread that ran constant through my country.

But every king is eventually deposed right?

In the 1980's wholesale bakeries and super stores slowly strangled these retail concepts.

Most of these larger baking arenas had an advantage because they could buy ingredients/products in bulk, and they didn't have to patch together bake staffs.

Much of what they did was mass produced or outsourced.

I know many people think this is sad, others have even expressed outrage, but when they look at the price difference on their birthday cakes, well let's just say it's kinda convenient to momentarily look the other way.

Ask anybody who has ever worked in a corner bakery or supermarket bake shop and they'll tell you that the cake decorater was always the company Diva.

90% of the time this job was filled by a woman who viewed her self as more of an artist than a technician.

Production managers and cake decoraters always-always-always fought because the P.M. could have cared less about the images on the cake, they just looked at bottom line.

I've talked to tattoo artists that chuckle when they tell me that if they have to ink a rose or a Tazmainian Devil, often times they'll tack on an extra $50 charge just for being insulted with having to submerge back into this repetitive task.

The cake decorater can't do that.

So when Billy-Sally or Bobby want that 1/2 sheet cake with those demonic looking clowns stretched out watching TV, or maybe a 9" pink Hello Kitty cake....well, just shut the "H" up and get it done lady!

And almost every single day retail bakery owners would bump heads with the decoraters because they felt that the cakes weren't being produced fast enough.

When you're a bread guy, you try to stay out of the politics that take place between these 2 tribes, and to be honest, I've never met a cake decorater that I'd want to hang out with off the clock, but dude...they get hosed. and from time to time....even Klecko feels sorry for them.

The cake decorater sometimes works in an air conditioned room, or other times in the corner of the shop closest to the sink, and by virtue of the fact that they often work alone, they really do become EZ targets.

Boss man might be having a tough day. Maybe the price of flour went up. Maybe OSHA came in and tossed down fines on him.

The bakery owner doesn't need to go home and "kick the dog", instead he simply releases his agression on the poor cake decorater.

So the next chapter in this story is when the "artist" feels that she can't stand it any longer, she'll go to the boss and threaten to quit.

For years now she's been thinking about breaking away and starting her own exclusive CAKE EMPIRE, where she'll lease out kitchen space at a church and then start doing wedding cakes a $1000 a pop.

Cake decoraters are like run aways in big city Greyhound Station, theres always a fresh one getting off the bus.

The turnover is constant, because the relationship between ownership and cake decoraters will always be contentious. Thats why bread and pastry bakers often times snub cake decoraters, they have enough drama of their own.

That woman who just left the shop to open her own small business, 9 out of 10 times she'll fail.

You can make killer cakes, but if you don't know how to market, or better yet learn your overhead and make money.....the candles get blown out fast, and guess what?

Somebody (our friend the cake decorater) will inevitably need to crawl back into the rank and file, but upon her return, the venom in her mouth is exponetentialy bitter.

Of course there are quite a few exceptions to this story, but what you've just read is a sweeping overview of what takes place behind the scenes.

So the next time your family and friends are smooshed together around a table, preparing to watch you douse your flames and have your wildest dreams come to pass.......

Just remember all the chaos that the bread baker has had to endure for your special day be realized.

I know I'm going to regret saying this but....those cake peeps really are weirdo's lol, but to be honest.....I bet they might agree.


  1. I'm a bit insulted by your post Klecko. My Polish grandmother taught me how to decorate cakes when I was 12 yrs old and after 2 yrs at culinary school, I went on to start my own small business making/designing and decorating cakes. Word got around and I had customers from 100 miles away wanting a cake. Best one was someone wanted a Baseball stadium, bleachers, scoreboard and even the players for both teams on the field. Took them for a bundle as it was for his birthday and made his living selling Baseball cards!!! No, I'm not in the business anymore but not because I failed but because I had 3 children.
    Now they are grown(last one gets married August 6th) and NO, I'm not making her cake...I'm the mother of the bride, daughter understood I had my fill of cakes and now my passion is breads and pastries. We all evolve as we age, interests change and we are not the know-it-alls from when we first graduated from culinary school (thank the Polish Pope for thaT!!) So give that demeaned, lonely cake lady a break now and then unless you have walked a mile in her shoes.

    But I still love you Klecko, great things to ponder about.

  2. Dearest - Dearest Nancy, I hope you know that this post wasn't an absolute. It was more of a friendly ribbing, much like I do with Packer fans from Wisconsin, Yankee fans from New York, and bread bakers from any and all regions of France. You never have to defend your abilities with me kid, I think you are the cats meow, and I am officially posting that I am sorry if I offended anybody.

  3. I am officially agreeing with Klecko and telling decorators to get over it. Years in the grocery business taught me one thing, the decorator is typically a spoiled brat. Who makes hundreds of pounds of their buttercream frosting - the mixer (me). Who listens to a constantly repetitious daily dialogue about kids, pets, slaughtering chickens in South Georgia - the mixer (me). And how many times do they wait until Saturday morning to ask for more buttercream when my mixer is over flowing and I'm maxed out. Thanks, DK, decorators typically suck, bakery-wise.

  4. The insults are sublime, the apologies delicious ...

  5. Baker dude thanks for having my back, but to be fair, I should state for the record that there have been a few Cake decorators that inspired me. I don't like to eat fondant, but I must say I marvel at how cool it looks. It is a real art form, one of the few things thats Brits lead the way in -- in baking terms.