Last fall I was online looking through one of my favorite cookie decorator’s blog and noticed she had a section for events. In her events section she noted that she would be presenting at CookieCon 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Immediately I went to my Bing homepage and searched CookieCon. There are no words to adequately describe my excitement. I was beside myself that such a thing existed. A cookie conference? Three days of sessions led by cookie enthusiasts like myself sharing their creative tips and tricks for decorating and managing a cookie business. Without hesitation I whipped out my credit card and was signed up for CookieCon 2014!
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the conference and would sign up again today if I had the chance to do it all over again. The support, encouragement, and willingness to share their decorating secrets was wonderful. I cannot wait to try my hand at a few of the things I learned.
Highlights from Day 1
I love gifts so the swag bag full of goodies was a great way to start the conference!
Keynote with Arty McGoo
Elizabeth Adams is an immensely talented cookie decorator and a great story teller who spoke about why she bakes and the joy she gets baking. As she spoke it hit me – this is why I bake, too! I want to create and share a cookie that brings a smile and shows the recipient that I think so fondly of them that I carefully decorated each one of these cookies especially for them. This truly was my main goal 2 years ago when I took my first decorating class. I wanted to learn to make cute cookies for my children’s celebrations like birthdays, holidays, and life’s special little moments.
The Sugar Show was a contest of sorts where the talented cookie decorators from around the globe representing 44 states in the USA and 16 different countries from around the world submitted cookies as part of a contest in various categories. Really impressive designs! I took several pictures because I was just so in awe of the creativity.
Private Shopping Event at Gygi
Following the keynote session, we loaded up into taxis for a short drive outside of the city for a private shopping event at Gygi Salt Lake City. I’d never heard of Gygi but the minute I walked it I was in love. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a full sized cotton candy maker. I couldn’t help but think “How could I possibly get one of these for my twins’ upcoming circus party?” Walking around the store which I can only describe as a mix of Sur la Table meets William Sonoma meets restaurant supply store. The store was huge and carried everything from cookie cutters to cotton candy machines and everything in between. I was in heaven and it’s amazing I was able to limit myself to $34 in circus party goodies, Easter basket surprises, and cookie cutters.
Highlights from Day 2
Day 2 in my mind was the reason I signed up for this conference with six one hour long classes each with a unique focus related to cookie decorating.
Time Saving Details – Myriam Sanchez, Chapix Cookies
Royal icing transfers was the focus of this session. Transfers are interesting to me because I am just not starting to think about adding dimension to my cookies. I was also inspired to once again try to tackle the elusive royal icing recipe with meringue powder that I cannot seem to master. So, for my next cookie project I am going to try templates, wax paper, and royal icing to create the small details for my cookies and then will add these details to my cookie later in the decorating stage than I normally would. I’m also going to order more tips as the smaller sizes 1 and 1.5 are better for reducing the bubbles in your icing.
Opening a Cookie Storefront – Susan Schmitt, The Painted Cookie
I’ve been fantasizing about quitting my corporate job and opening a little cookie bakery/coffee and tea shop/gift store. After listening to the 2 year labor of love Susan at The Painted Cookie went through I think I’ll keep my job and just continuing making cookies for family and friends. I applaud Susan for her vision of a cookie storefront and bringing it to life. Kudos!
Tips and Tricks – Georgeanne Bell, LilaLoa Cookies
This was one of my favorite sessions of the day. Georgeanne shared practical tips and tricks for decorating cookies. Of all of the speakers, I think Georgeanne was one of my favorites. It could be that she was about 38 weeks pregnant with her fourth child and yet she was full of energy as she shared her tips and tricks for making beautiful cookies. It may also have to do with the fact that on day 2 she walked the room as we had open decorating time and took a minute to talk to me about my cookies and gave me such sincerely encouragement that I just wanted to hug her. Whatever the reason, LilaLoa Cookies will be a blog I watch as I’m looking forward to seeing what cookies she creates. I took copious notes in this session and cannot wait to get home and try some of these tips out.
Creating Cookie Sets – Angela Rudy, Oh Sugar Events
In this session we walked through the process of a cookie order from the moment the inquiry comes in through the research process and ultimately to the ship it and delivery. Angela’s recommendations for brainstorming and then selecting 3 designs per dozen cookies was a great suggestion. Equally as helpful was the suggestion to limit cookie colors to 3 so that the overall cookie platter is pleasing to the eye. I’m going to start practicing right away with my own brainstorming session to come up with some fun circus party ideas.
Anne Yorks, Flour Box Bakery
Anne from Flour Box Bakery in Pennsylvania gave us a few of her own tips and tricks for working with royal icing which can be tough for me. One of the secrets Anne shared is her use of some type of fan to quickly create that crusting effect while creating a shiny finish. Another tip she shared was outline your artwork in all black with a fine #1 tip to save time. Think of a children’s coloring book. The pictures are all outlined in black and you just color in with different colors. Great time saving tip!
Amber Spiegel, SweetAmbs
Amber was initially the cookie decorator I wanted to see when I signed up. She is famous (in my mind at least) with her filigree and embroidered flowers. Amber carefully walked us through her steps for creating these cookies. As I tried my hand at this during the demo day it was clear that this is a skill and her cookies are worth the $6 each that she charges. I’ll be practicing this for a while before I add it to my cookies. Watch out Easter cookies – filigree is coming.
Below is a slideshow of some of the pictures I took at CookieCon 2014. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!
The event got a bit of local press which was fun. I’ve included a couple of links to news stories about the conference.