WMAW: “Whatever you think the standard is, it will be 10 times higher”

Elaine Hamey on winning the Celebration Cake Business of the Year category two decades after she last collected the award.

Winning Celebration Cake Business of the Year 2018, 20 years since she last did so, was “fantastic”, exclaims Elaine Hamey.

“I’ve won the award twice before, when working for other cake shops, but winning for my own business was incredible,” she tells British Baker.

The winning cake, a realistic vision of an under-the-sea scene, took the cake artist 90 hours to perfect, working into the early hours around last summer’s World Cup
and heatwave.

“I wasn’t confident I’d win and I don’t think you ever should be – there are so many great artists out there,” says Hamey, adding that, even after seeing the other shortlisted cakes at the judging at Renshaw’s head office, she had no idea if she would be victorious.

What made her cake stand out from the others, believes Hamey, was how realistic it looked. She spent time getting the sea creatures – a turtle, octopus and crab – as realistic as possible, taking inspiration from pictures in books.

“A few of the finalists had done more caricature-type styles, with mermaids and mermen, whereas I’d gone right down under the water.”

Immediately after learning she had won the award, Hamey called home to give the good news to her mother and friend, who work with her as bakers. “They were over the moon,” she says. “They knew how much work had gone into it.”

With a small team of family and friends working at her business in Manchester, Hamey puts its success down to offering the personal touch.

“When someone walks through the door, you have to make them feel important, make them feel it’s a really a special occasion whether they’re ordering a small cake to say thank you to a friend or a wedding cake,” she says.

Hamey adds that it is important to guide customers with expertise and professionalism.

“Particularly with wedding cakes, people come in with all sorts of ideas, but if you know what will work, you should tell them,” she says. “And always have a smile on your face – it costs nothing!”

For those thinking about entering the awards this year, Hamey says “just go
for it!”

She does, however warn, of the time and effort it takes to create a Baking Industry Award-winning cake.

“Whatever you think the standard is, it will be 10 times higher.

“Don’t do something and think it’ll do, take it off and do it again to the best of your ability,” she says.

“But, you have to go for it. Don’t think you’re not good enough; if you don’t try, you can’t win.”

Sponsor’s comment

“Renshaw is proud of our continued support of the Celebration Cake Business and, this year, we had more entrants than ever before!

It’s a testament to the hard work and true inspiration of our customers that the standard of this category continues to grow.

Elaine Hamey from Elaine’s Creative Cakes is truly passionate about our industry and along with other finalists worked so hard to create spectacular oceanic-themed celebration cakes. Independent judge Zoe Hopkinson said: “Elaine used a great combination of products in creating her cake, with colour and textures that helped bring the finished piece alive.”

Simon Mortimer, managing director, Renshaw

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