The Competition: Lessons Learned

This is my fourth and final installment in my “The Competition” series. If you have not already read the previous articles, you can find them here in my author archive.

The Three Wise Men
Inside the lab, my cake calmly stood; patiently waiting for its judgment. Outside, looking in, I was not so calm. I was sweating bullets and my heart was racing as I watched three prominent culinary professionals dissect my work. All I could think of was every little thing that I did wrong, and how I could have changed it.

When the judges were finished, they called each competitor in one-by-one to discuss their work. Thankfully I was the third of about fifteen competitors, I didn’t have to wait too long. When they called my name I thought I would faint. I tried to keep my composure as I walked towards the three stiff-back judges, all staring at me.

From the looks of these three men, I thought that I was about to be torn apart.But, my assumptions were incorrect. I was quickly relieved by the kindness in their voices and in their words.They asked me a few questions about how old I was, how long I have been making cakes, how much time did I have to prepare the cake, etc.

I was first congratulated on my effort and my abilities. They told me that they have never seen an entry with this skill level from someone so young, and that they all believed that I would go far in my field. I immediately thought that they made a mistake, how could they give me such adorations? In my thoughts, I did terrible!

Next came their thoughts on my cake. That my ideas and design were great, but that I was too ambitious and thus could not take the time to execute the decorations perfectly. That if I had planned better and made a smaller cake, that next time it would be amazing. I never heard a bad thing come out of their mouths. I was much more harsh on myself than they were on me, and problems with the cake that I could easily see, was never even pointed out by them.

Lessons Learned
Two days later was the awards ceremony. I was about a half point away from getting a bronze metal. Talking with the judges and my teachers later, they told me that even that score was an amazing accomplishment.And that people compete for years and never win an award. Out of almost 200 people who competed, only 8 awards were given out. I was so proud of the fact that I was so close!

Looking back now, I see this as an amazing learning and growing experience. I went into this competition not knowing a thing. I didn’t know what the judges were looking for, what the other entries would be like, or what would be expected of me.

The lesson I value the most from the competition is to not be so hard on myself. I do make great cakes and I should appreciate my skills better. I plan to compete again in the future as much as I can, and now I feel more prepared. I know that it really takes a lot longer than two weeks to plan out a 250 pound cake! That, bigger isn’t always better, and if I focus on making a small cake really well I am sure to get a gold medal!

The End… Until My Next Competition!