Saturday, June 30, 2012

Advanced Fondant Techniques with Marina Sousa - My Review

Hello cakeland!  If you are an avid reader of my blog, you know that I love nothing more than to bring you reviews of the latest things out there in the world of cakery!  If you are like me and have your thumb on the pulse of the industry, then you know about  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Craftsy is an online platform that allows you to purchase classes to view online at your leisure.  What is great about Craftsy, is that you can watch the lessons in any order you’d like, whenever you’d like, as long as you have an internet connection. 

The latest addition to the group of cake-centric classes is Advanced Fondant Techniques,  taught by the very talented Marina Sousa of Just Cake in Capitola California.  Marina is well known for appearances (and many wins) on Food Network Challenge, Last Cake Standing, and Oprah.  She also happens to be one of the sweetest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting!  Marina is an amazing instructor (as I have already mentioned when I posted about the recent class I took with her and James Rosselle) who delivers the lessons in such a relaxed, clear and concise way, you forget you're actually learning. 

Advanced Fondant Techniques is great for any artist who would like to up the ante when it comes to their decorating skills!  Marina shares many of her tips and tricks for creating stunning works of edible art.  She demonstrates multiple ways of covering cakes in fondant and different ways of embellishing the fondant to make it look like more than plain old fondant, such as hand painting, embossing, inlay techniques and stencilling.  You also learn how to make some of Marina’s beautiful bows and ribbons to round out the final design.  The lessons learned in this class do not limit you to just mimicking the beautiful showpiece Marina creates, but the techniques can be used to step up your decorating game all around!  And even if you are newer to fondant work, you're still going to benefit from this class :) 
The finished class cake - gorgeous!

Being the cake junkie that I am, I can honestly say that when I think of products associated with Marina (such as her line of molds), I think top quality – Advanced Fondant Techniques is no different!  What is great about the class (and all of the classes on Craftsy), is that you have the ability to stop the video, make video notes that you can refer back to whenever you need to and there is no need to keep track of pieces of paper with random notes jotted down.  Marina also supplies you with downloadable resource lists and materials lists in order to find all the supplies you will need to complete the project.  The other great thing about the platform is that you have the ability to interact online with Marina and your fellow students!  At any point during the class, you can post questions or pictures of your works in progress, and get assistance from Marina, as she has the ability to go back and answer your questions and help you troubleshoot areas where you are having difficulty.
Marina and I at Icing Inspirations May 2012. Photo courtesy of Simply Sweet.

Considering everything you get with Advanced Fondant Techniques (including 4+ hours of instruction), the cost of buying the class ($39.99) is well worth it!  If you haven’t done so already, head over to Craftsy and sign up for Marina’s class.  You definitely won’t be disappointed – it’s like having one-on-one instruction with one of the greatest designers in our industry today!  That is PRICELESS!!
A huge thank-you to Marina for giving me the opportunity to review her class!  As a special treat to all of you, Marina has arranged a special discount on her class!  Simply click here to get this special offer!

Until next time,

Happy Caking!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Discovering My Inner Artist - 3 days with Rick Reichart of Cakelava

I have just spent 3 days learning to step out of my comfort zone, throw all tools (well almost all) out the window, and think organically!  If you know me, then you know all 3 of those were difficult for me.  But I did it!!!  Rick Reichart, the uber talented cake designer out of hawaii known for his eye popping designs (and the spongbob challenge on Food Network), made me do it!

Rick and I

I was in Kitchener for Rick's Discover Your Innner Artist 2 class.  Having missed DYIA1 in March 2012 and hearing all about from friends who took it, I knew that as soon as the owner of Icing Inspirations/Too Nice To Slice (aka hostess with the mostess, aka my BCF) told me on the DL that Rick was coming back, my name was on the list - no questions asked, no clue as to what I'd be learning.  I.  Just.  Knew.

My gut instinct is almost never wrong, and it was right again!  My week started with a bus ride to Toronto, where I finally got to personally meet a super cool lady I've met on fb - Karey - when she picked me up to take me to class since we'd be classmates.  Karey is one of the sweetest, kindest, giving people I have met through the online cake community, and she is just as AWESOME in person.  It was as if we knew each other our entire lives.  I returned home feeling like I have a second BCF - what can I say, I am an extremely lucky guy to have great friends!

But I digress.  Back to class.  Day 1 was a little intimidating.  Many new faces, a new instructor, and many new challenges.  Rick introduced us to his style of decorating.  The one word that describes his style to me is ORGANIC.  Everything he does is done with a few simple tools.  Challenging for someone like me, who relies on essentially every cutter and gizmo out there.  Yes I am a product of the cake tool industry!  We spent the first day making our sushi table and all of the petals and leaves for our flowers.  No cutters were used at all.  Just templates and free hand cutting.

Finished petals and leaves

Day 2,  I was able to relax (well a little).  We covered our cake dummies, added our FREEHAND tattoo design and airbrushed.  This was one of the reasons I wanted to take this class - Rick is an airbrush genius!  I learned so much about the proper way to handle my airbrush and techniques for nice clean work.  We also painted all of our petals and leaves.  After class, we were off to group dinner at the Bauer Kitchen, a tradition at Icing Inspirations!  Getting to know your classmates and instructors on a more personal level really solidifies the group dynamic I think, and that is something unique to the Icing Inspirations class experience (along with the delicious catered lunches we are fed each day).

Airbrushed and waiting for decoration

Day 3 was action packed as we airbrushed our petals and leaves to add depth, placed them on the cake and finished our sushi platters.  Yes I know what alot of the sushi looks like - let's not go there!  I flew home on day 3 and my wedding cake made it home in good condition with the exception of some breakage of the flower on top - which I am replacing.  I was also inspired by the inspiration photos we were given in class and will be adding something to my cake that nobody else has - I will post a final pic when it is done!

My finished cake pre-travel :)

Sushi Anyone?  Complete with chopsticks and WASSABI!

(my cake xray)

Overall, I had an amazing time as always.  I met many new people and made new friends that I hope to see again in the near future!  I also left comfortable to step outside my comfort zone and look at things in a simple way of producing great results.  If you would like to have the Icing Inspirations experience, please visit their website and enroll in one of their upcoming celebrity classes - with such great instructors as Karen Portaleo, Lindsey Sinatra, Kaysie Lackey, Courtney Clark, Robert Hayes and Diane Phillips.  Contact Chrissie for info on special room rates at Delta (I loved my stay there).  Also stay tuned to my blog as I will be making a couple of huge exclusive announcements about more fun stuff at Icing Inspirations in the next few weeks - hey it pays to be BCFs with the owner!

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking!