A few months ago on a whim, I entered a competition run by Cake International. CI is a huge exhibition held in London and Birmingham each year at which you can go and see all things cake related, demonstrations by renowned “cakers” and buy even more stuff that you never knew you needed. I was hoping to go in person, but the date clashed with my mother-in-law’s birthday. However, CI decided to run a virtual competition alongside the exhibition for those that could not travel due to Covid-19 restrictions. Then the exhibition had to be cancelled so they moved the whole thing online which meant I could still enter.
The first thing to decide was which category to choose. There were 19, including Wedding Cakes, Sculptures, Cookies, Cupcakes and Decorative Exhibits. I always like to look at the previous years winners to see what standard is expected and to be honest, it stopped me in my tracks! These people are ARTISTS! The detail and skills on show were a-maz-ing!! Surely, I could not compete with that and I certainly felt that I was way out of depth. There was one category where I felt that I might be able to contribute something to and that was “Floral Inspirations”. You have to read the rules very carefully to ensure that you include only those things specified and I was relieved to see that you could use things like vases, wood and containers as long as you label them as such.
To cut a long story short, I entered, and had every intention of making a marvellous display based on a lovely bunch of flowers that my brother had sent me for my birthday. After all, I had plenty of time…..
Well, best laid plans and all that. I way overestimated the length of time it would take for me to make the amount of flowers and leaves that I needed to make a large display and my entry was reduced to a small posy of roses, hydrangea and daisies. I found a suitable vase and something in the cupboard to hold the flowers in place so they didn’t flop everywhere. After taking the requisite number of photos I emailed my entry in due time and then forgot about it.
The weekend of Virtual Cake International came around and I tuned in on Facebook to see the video of the Head Judge and to have a look at all of the marvellous entries. There were over 600 entries into all of the categories and so I concentrated on my category and logged in to see the gallery. My heart sank. There were so many beautiful entries that you really had to zoom in close to see that they were not real flowers. All artistically arranged and photographed. You can see all of the results in every category by clicking here.
If you ever manage to go to CI in person the awards are usually Gold, Silver, Bronze, Highly Commended, or Not to Schedule (means that you didn’t follow the rules properly). As it was all Virtual due to lockdown, the awards were Best in Category, Highly Commended, Commended, No Award or Not to Schedule.
Well, competitors started to post their results on Facebook and there were quite a few that had No Award or Not to Schedule and when I looked at them I thought – why? They are beautiful! I suppose the answer to that is with the judges’ feedback to them. Anyway, I didn’t hold out much hope for my little entry, but I logged in anyway and scrolled down to find my name. I was delighted and very surprised to receive a Commended! It was actually a bit of relief.
You see, that little thing called “Imposter Syndrome” had slipped in. I had started to doubt myself. I thought I was getting too high opinion of my abilities and of course, I wasn’t going to be able to compete – what was I thinking of entering a competition? I started questioning why I had bothered, what use could it have possibly served? Why was I punishing myself? I then started thinking how would I have felt if I had received “No Award”?
I could have withdrawn under my duvet in despair, or thrown out all of my cake stuff and given up completely (both a bit extreme – I know). Instead, I have decided to take a closer look at the entries, get some inspiration for new techniques, think about how I could have elevated my entry (thanks to the judges feedback, there were quite a few things I could have done!). I know that if I do anything like this again, I need to plan better and allow myself much more time! The only way is up!
By the way, this is my entry…