Waiting in Airports is always a necessity when, as an international tutor, I teach classes outside the UK. Right now, I am in the departure lounge at Birmingham International Airport, on my way to the ‘CakeLove’ and Christmas show in Bremen Germany. As always, I’m thrilled to be invited and looking forward to inspiring, sharing and meeting fellow German cake decorators.
Sitting waiting has reminded me of many other teaching trips l have made around the globe. It’s interesting looking back and reflecting. So much has changed in the sugarcraft world since my first trip to Holland back in the very early noughties. The subjects I’m asked to teach are still based on my current designs and ideas, but these days students seem to be much more demanding, they want to know so much more… This can mean that my preparation and planning time takes longer. However I adore teaching and love to learn myself, so welcome these sometimes challenging requests.
A few memorable examples
First long haul international teaching trip to New Zealand
This was an amazing trip, way back in 2002. Being the keynote speaker at the New Zealand Cake Decorators Guild conference in New Plymouth was quite an honour. I remember a large tiered theatre full of enthusiastic cake decorators. I even remember my demo subject – texture techniques as seen in my first book Hobby Cakes. Techniques I still often use today.
After the conference, I went on a 2-week sugarcraft demonstrating tour, again organised by the Guild. What a fabulous country, what warm and friendly people. In between demos I experienced: walking on a glacier, going in a hot tub (not so common then as they are now), travelling up the world’s steepest street in Dunedin with Ann semester (we are still in contact) and seeing the bright southern stars, in a dark nights sky from the top of a hill near Napier. Wow…one day I will go back!
Teaching welcoming friendly students in Brazil
I absolutely adore Brazil, my classes were such fun. They were huge, about 35 students per class, but well organised and colourful. I had the best translator I’ve ever meet, he not only translated what I said to my students but also explained so much about the culture and ways of this colourful, lively country. I’ve taught as an international tutor in Brazil twice, both in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. I’ve not been back in a while but still see some of my students when they visit the Cake International Shows in the UK, fabulous.
Lindy, the first international tutor at Bonnie Gordon’s cake decorating school in Toronto
What a privilege to be asked to help open Bonnie’s culinary school in 2008 and to meet and connect with Bonnie herself. I learnt so much on this trip, including who Martha Stewart was and how much influence she had on cake design, at the time, in Canada. During my visit, I believe, I taught five different day classes including, fairy modelling, book cake carving and autumn leaf textures. I got to know some of my students well, which was wonderful and managed to squeeze in a trip to the breathtaking Niagara Falls and the fascinating Bata Shoe Museum.
Long queues and large audiences in Barcelona
My Spanish publishers invited me to the first BCN and Cake Fair in Barcelona in 2012. The trip was to coincide with the publication of ‘Decorar Pasteles’, the Spanish version of my cake decorating bible book. It was a trip full of big highs and deep lows. The organisation beforehand was the most stressful I have ever experienced. My contact at the publishers didn’t speak much English so communication was really difficult and lead to many misunderstandings. All sorts of things happened, including not being picked up from the airport as arranged – this took about 3 hours and a few international phone calls to sort out!
However, the highs helped make up for the shortcomings. I demonstrated cake decorating techniques to one of the largest audiences I’ve ever had. A TV News crew filmed me. I signed many, many copies of my Spanish book. Met lots of friendly people, including my lovely translator Helen Vass, who as some of you will know went on to win, with her teammates, the first series of the BBC’s Bake Off Creme de la Creme. How fabulous!
Classes at the Mjam Taart Cake and Bake Experience in Holland
Coming bang up to date, I was the international guest, for the second year running, at this show in the Hague Holland in June. Fab classes, excited students, up to date techniques, what’s not to like? Classes included cake doodling, chocolate drips and gelatin baubles. Such fun to teach.
Teaching in different countries – Unique experiences
These are only a handful of the amazing teaching trips I’ve undertaken. To travel and teach is hard work, it takes months of preparation and planning. However it is so worth it, my students have a unique experience and so do I, I learn and so do they …I wonder what Germany has in store for me this time? I will be teaching Christmas cookie decorating and demonstrating how to create and decorate a 3D Christmas tree cake, can’t Wait!
Potential students constantly ask me ‘when are you going to teach near me?’ I’d love to be able to say next week, next month or next year, but of course, it takes time and effort to organise a trip. However, where there is a will there is a way. So if you are reading this and would like to act as my host or know someone or an organisation that might, please contact me to see what is possible.
‘Bringing world-class sugarcraft into your kitchen’