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Paul’s Stories: Judging at Cake International

To say I was surprised to have been asked to judge at Cake International is a massive understatement. Usually, judges have to have won at least three gold awards themselves in the cake competitions so it was a great honour to have been asked. 

At first I wasn’t sure at all. Mainly due to the fact I hadn’t been a judge before and the thought of casting a judgement over what was potentially some of my own student’s work was pretty daunting. But of course, before I could decline, David stepped in and said – yes, he’ll do it!

So there I found myself, standing in the office of the head judge at Cake International, surrounded by all the other seasoned judges. It didn’t help that I was feeling like a naughty schoolboy, because it had been so chaotic, I managed to be ten minutes late. We were briefed and prepped, and that helped the nerves a wee bit.

The moment we all stepped out into the main hall, all judges dressed in the same white chef’s jacket, it hit me just how honoured I was to be judging at Cake International. There was such a buzz of expectation in the air and I knew I was ready to give it my absolute all.

 

My group was category K – A Decorative Exhibit, and the cakes were allowed to have internal supports, including dummies, but nothing visible except wired sugar flowers and foliage. There was no height restriction… so as you can imagine some of the cakes were HUGE. I had 35 cakes to consider and because I wanted to take in every tiny detail, I ended up taking almost twice as long as the other judges. In fact, by lunchtime I’d only got through 20 of them!

Perhaps the most nerve wracking part of judging was how close the public were as you were walking around the cakes. I couldn’t help but feel that one of our own students might be watching me judging the creation they’d poured their blood, sweat and tears into.

 

Once I’d (finally!) made it around all the cakes in my category, I took another walk around with the head judge. The cakes were awarded with either gold, silver, bronze or merit, and I’m pleased to say the head judge only questioned three out of the 35 cakes I’d awarded at various levels – which is not bad at all for a first-timer! Afterwards, all the judges got back together and put forward the cakes in their category they thought should win Best in Show Overall 2016.

While at first I had been a little unsure about judging, in the end it proved to be such a wonderful, rewarding experience. I feel like I’ve become a better cake designer for it, since I looked at so many incredible cakes from a completely new perspective. And I would absolutely love to be a judge again… so just watch this space! If you would like find out a little more about my background then it was well covered in a recent interview with Media Shower 😉 Px