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From Novice to N.Y. Cake Show

Edwin Aragon
ICC Student, Cake Techniques and Design

Our 2014 Cake Techniques & Design class is now nearing the end, and I must that I am very impressed with how much my classmates and I have learned and grown as individuals. It helps that we’ve been learning under the watchful eye of Chef Cynthia Peithman and Chef Lyndsay Busanich, both of whom are amazing instructors. I came into the program with virtually no knowledge of cake, and just midway through the program, I won second place in my very first cake show competition: The Second Annual N.Y. Cake Show 2014.

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The competition itself was a major surprise, because it was sprung on us as a suggestion to gain experience in the world of competition. I began my Buddha cake with a vision, I’ve always looked at stacked cakes and seen the image of a Buddha. So I put the idea into my head and went for it. The show’s theme was glamor and I immediately had to come up with a way to make a Buddha glamorous. It was no easy task, as I remembered that as a sculptor I was fine, but sculpting cake was a completely different story.

The cake was four tiers: the crossed seated legs was the first tier, the belly area as the second, chest the third, and the head as the forth. The next step was to dress the glamorous Buddha, and mind you I was still learning how to cover cakes in fondant. The Buddha could’ve gone two ways, either this was going to be good, or I was really going to regret it. However, I am never one to turn away from a challenge. I thought to myself that the Buddha was going to look like nature sprung him up from leaves. Then I thought about the many beautiful gold Buddhas I’ve seen, and decided I should paint it gold. “Glamor” in the traditional cake world usually translates to jewels and ornate brooches. What to do? How do I apply that to a Buddha? Finally, I came up with the idea of using black rock candy as black diamonds.

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The completion was quite intimidating for a novice decorator, I must admit. I also felt the deep seed of doubt when I compared what I had made to the other traditional glamor cakes at the competition. I was definitely not even considering the idea of placing because of my inexperience. One can imagine my surprise when my name was called out for the first time at a show. Who knew that taking a risk would have led me to the beginnings of a new and exciting path in my life? All the knowledge and hard work has now given me the confidence to not fear the rolling pin anymore, and keep taking chances with my art. All of which would not have been possible without the teachings here at the International Culinary Center.

Learn more: Cake Techniques & Design