There are more baking events taking place today than ever before. With grass-roots community shows, association-run competitions, boutique pop-ups, cross-brand collaborations and all-encompassing exhibitions filling the calendar, it’s impossible to make an appearance at all of them. But there’s one type of event that could well be worth your while: consumer shows.
We all know how important industry events like Foodservice and Fine Food are for bakers and pastry chefs. But, I’m going to explore the significance of consumer food shows, like the hugely successful Cake Bake & Sweet Show (CBSS) and the upcoming Queensland Cake Expo.
Inviting home bakers into our realm boosts interest in the sector, and raises the overall level of quality. But it’s also a great opportunity for professionals to learn and have fun in a creative and supportive environment.
Here are some of the reasons you should get involved in a consumer baking event near you.
Expand your network
On a professional level, I find big consumer shows are a great opportunity to network with suppliers, manufacturers, event co-ordinators, bloggers, mainstream media, and photographers. My involvement in the upcoming CBSS’s daily workshops has already put me in close contact with National Media (event management), Felchlin (chocolate supplier), Vanrooy (equipment), and a number of bakers and pastry chefs from as far as North Queensland. I’ve gone on to form great relationships with people I’ve worked with at consumer events, and business partnerships that last long after the event shuts its doors.
Hone your presentation skills
I used to dread getting up and speaking at trade shows, but practice makes perfect. Now public speaking comes much more naturally to me. What’s more, I can easily rattle off the equipment and recipes that work best in pop-up demonstration environments. Not only has this boosted my confidence as a presenter, but the classes I teach at Celebration Cooking are also far more organised and structured. Importantly, I’m also more prepared to say ‘yes’ to industry collaborations and foodie events with my friends.
Get an edge
The food market is becoming more and more competitive, and end-users want engaging content. They don’t just want to see pictures of your cakes on a website (or in the window), they also want videos, explanations, and tips and tricks. Presenting at an event like CBSS will spread your brand’s message through traditional media channels (like this), word of mouth, and social media – which brings me to…
Social media has literally created overnight stars in the food world. Platforms such as Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube give you the opportunity to quickly, easily and cheaply rake in fans and promote your brand. Attendees to consumer food shows love social media and, if given the opportunity, they will eagerly queue up for selfies with you and your products. You might not go viral at a local baking show, but a new audience will see you.
Support your local associations
This industry is built on the support of associations. The Queensland Cake Expo is owned and operated by the Queensland Cake Decorators Association, which brings together help from its 23 branches to put on each show. It’s a non-profit industry association open to anyone with an interest in cake decorating, and exists solely to boost knowledge and to share passion for an incredible art form. No doubt, many of you got a leg up through an association, so pay it forward and offer your services at one of their events.
Having a presence at consumer shows is definitely a priority for me, and will continue to be moving forward. If I don’t get to see you at the Queensland Cake Expo shows, here are some of the recipes I will be demonstrating.
125g caster sugar
7g bi-carb soda
1. In a saucepan place water, glucose, honey and caster sugar. Cook on low heat until all sugar has dissolved and caramel develops.
2. Add sieved bi-carb, whisk in until even and pour over silicon paper until cool.
3. As soon as it’s cool, break up and store in airtight container.
100ml liquid glucose
75g egg whites
1/2tsp vanilla extract
200g freshly roasted nuts
Pinch of sea salt
Rice paper as needed
Extra virgin olive oil as needed small amount
1. Line mould with rice paper.
2. Dissolve over medium heat in heavy base pot with sugar thermometer until 140°C.
3. Beat egg whites with salt until stiff peaks in a free-standing mixer. Gradually add 140°C liquid in a fine steady stream on the inside of the bowl. Stir in vanilla and nuts, then chocolate.
4. Spoon over the mixture in the mould, smooth. Cover with more rice paper, while pressing down carefully. You can sit a weight on the nougat at this point (optional). Allow to cool, if possible, for 7-24 hours.
5. Using a sharp serrated knife cut as desiredWrap in grease proof paper.
Note: Using oil will stop the mixture from sticking to you or a surface. This is why I like to keep some extra virgin olive oil nearby. You could use any oil you like, but some tastes can really be noticed.
Add dried fruits, spices, nuts and chocolate as you desire.