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Thursday June 2, 2011
By SHAMALA VELU firstname.lastname@example.org
CAKE decorating competitions are an excellent avenue for people to showcase their talents and decorating flair. One such event held recently was Kuali’s Cake Decorating Challenge at Tropicana City Mall in Petaling Jaya.
The contest, the first from The Star’s food portal, Kuali.com, featured 14 talented finalists and each one came armed not only with their tools, but also some intriguing ideas.
Kuali.com portal head Yuhalini Poopalasingam said: “The art of cake decorating is not about baking but rather it’s an art form of the finished cake. This form of art has been around for a long time and is not something new in Malaysia.
“Today, it is becoming very popular among Malaysian cake enthusiasts who simply pursue cake decorating as a hobby and for business. Kuali hopes that the challenge will be a platform for many cake enthusiasts to show off and nurture their creativity,” she said.
Sponsors of the event were Pastry Pro, Cake Connection and Hotel Istana.
All participants were required to cover their seven-inch dummy cake with fondant and work with the icing given. They were also given a mystery box which contained decorative items and tools which they had to use.
The judges present at the competition were Nancy Tan of Cake Connection, chef Jess Chiam Ko Seen of Pastry Pro, chef Foo Hai May of Taylor’s University and Joanne Fam, the founder of the Malaysian Cake Decorator’s Club.
It was encouraging to see the many gorgeous cake creations, but the one that caught the judges’ attention almost instantly was the one by Faith Lee.
The sleeping baby fondant figurine nestled comfortably in a leaf surrounded by greenery, shrubs and flowers captured the hearts of the judges.
Lee, who won first place for her cake design, said she drew inspiration from the Garden of Eden to portray the organiser’s chosen theme “Celebrate Life”.
“For me, the Garden of Eden is where it all started,” explained the 48-year-old from Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur.
“This is where life began. I used the birth of a baby to symbolise life and all things to do with nature,” she said.
Cake decorating has always been something that Lee found interesting. Initially, she was just fascinated with watching her mother bake cakes and make Nyonya kuih.
As a young girl, Lee would help her mother with the chores but never once imagined she would follow in her mother’s footsteps.
When she gave up her job to become a full-time mum and homemaker, Lee decided to venture into the cake-making business and has not looked back since.
“However, I never expected to win,” she smiled. “This is the first time I’ve joined a competition,” she said, adding that a friend persuaded her to join the challenge.
Besides taking home the first prize — a KitchenAid mixer worth RM2,400 — Lee also won the Best Choice of Colours category.
“It’s the passion for cake crafting that inspires me to work harder and achieve results. This has certainly been an exciting event and it inspires people to come forward and participate,” she said.
The finalists were given only one hour to complete their cake and each of them was given a mystery box containing a stencil, bunch of decorative flowers and border frills.
Extra points were given to those who could incorporate all the items in the mystery box with their pre-made decorating items from home.
Although the finalists did come up with some wonderful creations, judge Tan said not everyone was able to use tools in the mystery box as some felt it did not stand out in their cakes.
“Lee did not use the stencil but her creativity, choice of colours and technique certainly made her cake stand out. It was very impressive” she said.
According to Tan, Lee had combined a variety of different skills and techniques to create an excellent cake.
Chef Chiam explained that besides creativity, judges were also looking for neatness and good visual impact.
“Cake decorating encompasses a great variety of skills and talent, including design, colour patterns and sculpture. So, we were looking for all these factors in the cake,” he said.
He agreed that although many created beautifully crafted cakes, there were some who did not use all the items in the mystery box.
“I would say some were professional, but others were of normal standard,” he said.
The second prize, a set of black ceramic knives worth RM1,400, went to Rosalind Lok, 35, from Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya. She mesmerised the crowd with her intriguing cake decoration of a large globe and a family travelling in a car, symbolising world peace.
“For me, family and world peace are important values so I wanted to incorporate that into my cake,” she said, adding that creating outrageous cakes was something she often likes to do.
It is no wonder why Lok managed to also clinch the Most Elaborate Cake title in the competition.
“I was really surprised as I did not expect to win,” said the joyous Lok who spends much of her time baking and cake decorating.
Third place went to Azlin Niza Ismail, 37, for her impressive creation of a cake mixer on her cake.
“There’s no celebration without a cake so I was inspired to decorate my piece with a cake mixer to symbolise my idea of celebrating life with a cake,” said the cake deco expert who works closely with her husband to design cakes.
“We have a common interest in cake-making so we pull our ideas and resources together to supply cakes to our friends and family,” said Azlin who also walked away with a dinner voucher for two worth RM300.
Azlin is also a qualified WIM (Wilton Method Instructor) who has given classes to students in Bahrain.
Pushpa Natarajan, 31, won the special prize for Best Use of Mystery Box Items. Her cake design was equally charming with lots of words on family values to portray her interpretation of the theme “Celebrate Life”.
“I believe we should celebrate each day with good values so I used words “Make Each Day Count” and other smaller words such as “forgive”, “share”, “hope”, “health”, “family” and “go green” on my cake.
An electrical engineering graduate, Pushpa left her job to focus on a family when her daughter arrived.
She took up Wilton cake courses and decided to follow her passion and start her own cake business, Simply Delicious Cakes.
All the winners were also invited to a cake decorating session with Hotel Istana’s pastry chef.
Besides the challenge, there was also a cake decorating demo conducted by chef Jess.
Kuali was founded in 2003 and is the home for thousands of recipes, updates on food news, restaurant reviews, cooking tips and much more. Kuali’s website can be found at kuali.com
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