Cake on display
Recorded: August 12, 2007
Posted: August 16, 2007
Marva Peltier is the President of the Diego Martin-based Cake Decorators Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
On the occasion of their Cake Decorating Exhibition and Tea Party, which was held on Sunday 12th August, 2007, at the St. Michael's Hall, Wendy Fitzwilliam Blvd., Diego Martin, Marva shared with Triniview.com the history and focus of the Cake Decorators Association as well as what is involved in cake decorating.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What can you tell us about this association?
MARVA: This association was formed about three years ago. My graduates of the adult education classes, which were held at Crystal Stream Learning Resource Centre, thought it would be a good idea to pool the graduates together into a body that would further develop the skills of members. In this regard, we have workshops for the members to help the process.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What is the mission of your association?
MARVA: To develop the skills of the members and encourage people from within this area to participate. As a matter of fact, we have members coming from outside of Diego Martin as well. Hopefully, at some stage later on, we may be able to source people from abroad. In America for instance, there are a lot of expert cake decorators.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What kind of activities have you all had so far?
MARVA: So far, we have held three cake shows and we have held internal workshops for the members. Occasionally, we would have a little fundraiser to assist with the expenditure for the shows.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What do these internal workshops consist of?
MARVA: We focus on a single aspect of cake decorations. For instance, we will look at the technique in making a certain type of flower. In the adult education classes you cannot learn everything in a school year, therefore, we focus on certain aspects of the workshop and try to develop along those lines.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What does cake decorating involve?
MARVA: When you go out to a wedding or a birthday party, the main focus is on the cake. The cake looks pretty and that involves a process of decorating with icing. There is another simple way of decorating a cake with frosting but we tend to focus on a more intricate method by using fondant for flowers and that sort of thing. We are also focusing on how to decorate the bridal table or whatever setting it is. We try to develop their skills. We make the most of the skills of individual members who may have had the experience in certain areas to satisfy their needs.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Are there clients that you cater for?
MARVA: Not as a group. We do not really have clients except when we are having a show like what we are having today where some clients will participate. However, each member may have individual clients.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What about the standards of cake decorating in Trinidad?
MARVA: I do not want to make a blanket statement because my focus is in and around Diego Martin. Over the years, I have been to numerous graduations of the adult education classes. To be quite honest, I am quite impressed with the work. From the shows we have had, the standard is very high.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What are some of the experiences of some of the members of the association around cake decorating? Is it something that they enjoy doing and can see themselves launching a career into?
MARVA: It is not a hobby for many of us now, it is a sub-career because a lot of us are otherwise employed. After people have seen your work they do come and ask you to do a job. I would say most of our members had this kind of experience.
TRINIVIEW.COM: I noticed the cakes on display do not seem to use the normal icing that you would use on a home-made cake. What are some of the materials that go into the cake?
MARVA: For the icing technique we used the fondant recipe. It gives you a smoother and faster finish than the royal icing for instance. There are several recipes you can use but that will take a while for me to give to you (chuckles). We like working with fondant and the gum paste. We use the gum paste for flowers in particular and we mold figures out of it to make a mouse or a person and so on. We do use a lot of cake icing, powdered sugar and related products which are very expensive in Trinidad.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What is happening here today at this show?
MARVA: We are having a cake decorating competition segment in the show this year. We have three categories which consist of Wedding, Celebration and Novelties. The Celebration Cakes would include birthdays, anniversaries, christenings and so on. In the Novelties category that can be as far and as wide as your imaginations would take you. We are also having a variety show which will include dancing, some vocalists and modeling, just to name a few.
TRINIVIEW.COM: In terms of the cake decorating, is it just the cake you decorate or do you actually make the cakes that are decorated?
MARVA: It is optional. Some members opted to do cake because they figure it is a waste of time just putting icing on styrotex which is what people generally do when they are having a show like this. A few of us have real cake.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Is cake decorating a budding industry in Trinidad or is it more established?
MARVA: I think it is only within recent years it started to get some exposure in Trinidad. It has been there all along but very quiet. I wouldn't say it is dormant because it is very much alive.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What are some of the challenges your organization faces?
MARVA: First of all, we need a regular place where we can meet whenever we have our meetings and a place to hold workshops. It is very trying sometimes when we want to have a workshop and we cannot get a venue. Right now, we are using the Diego Martin Community Centre but it is not always convenient because the whole community uses it. For instance, we had to rent this venue for the show today. The major challenge right now is a home for the association.
TRINIVIEW.COM: In terms of membership, I guess traditionally cake decorating may be more associated with females. What has the interest been like from the males?
MARVA: In one experience at the classes at the Resource Centre, there was one male that I can remember being involved in it. Trinidadian men generally do not want to get involved with that because they think it is just woman business. It is an area that is really dominated by females.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Are there a lot of young people interested in cake decorating?
MARVA: Not really. As far as I see, the people who are getting involved in it are thirty years and over. It is a very nice hobby if you want to call it that. Most of us started it as a hobby. We expect to start another membership drive focusing on younger people to join us, for instance, younger people who may have graduated from Hotel School and other related formal educational environments.
TRINIVIEW.COM: What are the areas the organization are focused on in terms of membership?
MARVA: Basically we are focused in Diego Martin. While we would like to take it around the country, we cannot really do so at this time. We have had members from the east like Tunapuna, Arouca and so on. Those people would have passed through the adult education classes. One of the things we would like to see is an increase in our membership.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Is there anything else you would like to mention?
MARVA: Our group had some sponsorship from Regal Products Ltd. and the National Lotteries Control Board. I would like to say that we are very thankful for their support.
TRINIVIEW.COM: Thank you for sharing with us.
Cakes for All Occasions and Tea Party in pictures:
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