Of course you've heard of Wilton. They make, like, everything that you could ever dream of to decorate cakes with: pans, equipment, sprinkles, decorations, fondant and decorating icing, and so much more. And recently, myself and about 20 other awesome movers-and-bakers were invited for a day of buttercream bliss at their facilities in the Chicago area. Here, let me tell you all about my day.
8:30 am Departure. We boarded a bus (which had a Wilton sign, I believe) and departed for the Wilton offices nearby. I was a little nervous, but someone let me sit next to her.
9:00 am Welcome and Overview. Here, we learned a little bit about the Wilton method, the company's philosophy, etc. I also found out I was in a group for the day, comprised of myself, Kristan, and Rachel. Later on, we would have a cake decorating competition. We agreed as early as 9am that we were going to win.
9:30 – 11:15 am Wilton Decorating Course begins: we received a primer on how to work with buttercream in a decorating capacity, learned what different decorating tips work best for, and learned some of the techniques, including how to make rosettes, sweet peas, and pipe in various ways. I started out shaky:
...but eventually started to get better.
...but my sweet-peas just looked like chicken feet.
11:15 am Tour: Decorating Room and Photo Studio. This is where we got to see how they do photo shoots for catalogs and idea books...
...and they told us some of the trixy secrets they employ to make their cakes look great for catalogs and the like.
We also got to see their array of props and so on. We also got to see where they store their decorated display cakes, which made me think of a sort of confectionery hall-of-heads:
11:45 am Lunch Time. They told us about upcoming cake trends, their newest products being launched, and you know, a lot of us spent time eating sandwiches and gossiping about blog stuff. Interesting from the products being launched, though: they told us that decorative eyes are one of their most popular items. I made a mental note for later, for the decorating competition.
12:45 – 2:15 pm Decorating Course continued, this time with Fondant. We learned how to roll it properly, how to handle it, and how to make roses (among other things). We made a cute little fondant piece using various wilton products. I thought mine came out quite special:
2:15 – 3:15 pm Decorating Competition. IT WAS ON! Time to use our newfound cake decorating prowess. I said to my team: "you start frosting, and I will make the unicorn." Our cake, which came together in just an hour, was a thing of great beauty; we entitled it "Minefield of Magic". I was informed that it was really sort of an informal competition, to which I said "I don't care if it's not really a competition, we are totally going to win." Yes, I really said that. I think it's on video too. Here is my proud team:
...of course, we weren't the only ones who took it very seriously. Megan of Not Martha covered up completely so she could dig into the buttercream magic:
...and here is our cake.
Remember what I said about the decorative eyes? We really made good use of them, I think.
3:30 – 4pm Tour Time! We got to tour The Wilton School, where at the very moment we walked through, cake decorating goddess Collette Peters was teaching a class (OMG!); we also got to see the Wilton History Wall, which held a timeline of the company's past with photos and curios, such as:
...and of course, this:
we also got to see The Wilton Test Kitchen, where we learned about their recipe development process and how they simultaneously develop their new products to go along with them. It was very cool to see a prototype of a baking pan and see how it had developed into a final product.oh, and did I mention they had snacks? They had cupcakes...
and little tart-thingies...which turned out to be filled with blueberry:
4-5:30 pm: We got to Visit the Tent Sale. Like, OMG. Have you ever heard of the Wilton Tent Sale? It's a Bona Fide big deal. A huge tent--like, football field sized--is set up with excess product that is on extreme sale. It was an aggressive affair, and I hear that fights have broken out (maybe over the last decorative eye-sprinkles?)
6:30 – 9:00 pm Dinner and Awards Ceremony at Gordon Biersch. We won! We WON! Well, everyone won, actually. Every team received an award; ours was for "Most Outrageous Cake". Damn straight.
Overall? A pretty perfect day, full of learning, laughing, and, of course, plenty of cake.