Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review of Mike McCarey's Advanced Cake Sculpting Craftsy Class

Full Disclosure:  The review of the following Craftsy class is purely my own.  I am not being paid or compensated for my review, but Craftsy is offering my readers a chance to win a free class.  Read on to find out how!



MY HISTORY WITH MIKE
There is all levels of skill for cake artists.  People that are just trying the Wilton Courses, some that have been to culinary school, and some that learn "on the job".  I  started with Wilton Courses, then self taught using great books, then on the job as an Assistant Pastry Chef.   I still have a lot to learn and a great desire to learn more.  However, I might want to know how to make a botanically correct garden rose, but my customers don't ask for or want to pay for them, so I focus on learning things that I can actually use in my business. 

Like every other cake person, I used to love Food Network's "Cake Challenge".  There were many great competitors, but my favorite by far was Mike McCarey.  His work was always flawless, well thought out, and perfectly executed.  He was one of the few contestants that would make the cake BEFORE the show and work out all the kinks.   There was no drama or stressing, just perfect execution.  Can you tell that he is my cake idol? 

When I saw that he was teaching a two day modeling chocolate class in Atlanta, I came up with $1000 (give or take, it's been 3 years) and took that course.  I learned so much!  It was worth every penny!  So when he came back to teach a cake structure class/Big Bird, I scraped the money up, again around $1000 (OK, I charged it and dealt with it later...) and skipped down to Atlanta.  Again!  The most-best-awesome class I have taken.  The things I learned help me every week.   I also bought his car making video and it's awesome too!  On the downside, I had to "close" my business while I went to school, had to get accommodations, food, travel and the cost is a lot.  I still think those classes were worth every single penny! 

So when I saw that Mike McCarey was offering a class on Craftsy, don't you know that I jumped right on it!  He is my cake hero and favorite teacher!  That being said, I'll try to be objective and give you a little review on the class. 

THE REVIEW
I think this is truly an advanced class.  This is a hard cake for most people with a lot of techniques.  If you are just a cake hobbyist and Wilton Classes are your current skill level, then this is maybe not the class for you, just yet!  You should have carved some cake in your life, worked with real butter-buttercream, have some ability to use tools.  Mike doesn't go over basics, like how to cover fondant.  Thank God, because some of that "filler" has put me to sleep on other classes.  If you have never done a cake with structure in it, this is a great place to learn.  He does this great thing where he blows up the picture to the size that the cake will be and draws in the exact size hardware that he needs.  It's a great learning tool, and it makes the sculpting SO much easier!  I have brought a blown up picture with me to Lowe's and sat in the aisle of the plumbing department trying to find the exact right pieces. 

Mike goes over everything you need to know to make a great Bobble Head Style cake.  It's the most entertaining Craftsy class I have seen.  He is just so comfortable in front of the camera and talks just like he does in person.  I didn't get bored at all, even though I have been taught a lot of the information before.  I still picked up some great new tips and refreshed my memory on structure building.  When someone teaches me something, I'm that type that wants to know "why" and not just how you do it.  Mike helps me truly understand so that I can carry those lessons on to other situations.  His bobble head cake strategy can be used for making so many things.  If you learn these techniques of planning, blueprints, patterns, structure, refining, and finishing you can use them on every cake that isn't a traditional stacked shape. 

My favorite thing about Mike's style of making cakes is that it's very well planned, which will lead to good execution.  Carving cake is very scary, but when you have an exact blueprint that will get you 75% done, it becomes less scary.  He doesn't take chances with a cake structure and that's a really good thing.  I would hate to have 4 days worth of work fall over during the delivery.  Learning his methods are like having "cake insurance". 

I've heard of a little complaining because the head doesn't actually "bobble".  He does go over how you could make that happen if it was important to you.  But, if people aren't impressed that you made a birthday boy into a bobble head "style" cake then a extra spring isn't going to impress them either.  A cake doesn't have to move or shoot sparks to be awesome!  Please!

I am not bitter....but this class will pretty much teach you what I learned in a two day/$1000 hands on class....only it's not $1000!!!  It will take 292 minutes to watch it all!  It's a long time, but it's a lot of fantastic, non repetitive material.  After watching the entire video, I can't find one thing that it's missing compared to the Big Bird class I took (other than his awesome assistant, also named Mike.  I missed him!).

Mike does recommend that you take Lauren Kitchens "Modeling Chocolate" class.  I haven't taken it yet, but since they are big buddies, I'm sure that it's similar to what he taught me in the two day/$1000 class.  So, run and take it!  Modeling chocolate knowledge is the single most important thing I've learned for making sculpted cakes.  I could NOT make a clean, well executed sculpted cake without it.  Learn about modeling chocolate! 

As with any video, please watch the whole thing before you leave a comment or questions.  I don't know how the man is so patient with some pretty crazy questions.  I'm sorry to be harsh, but man,  if you can only ask "The great and powerful CAKE OZ" one question, do you really want to waste it on something silly or that has already been answered three questions up?

As you can tell, I highly recommend this Craftsy class.  I am so excited for all of you to be able to learn from Mike McCarey.  His is the BEST at what he does and is a FANTASTIC teacher.  I cannot wait for more classes!

The best of of all this is that the fine folks at Craftsy have generously offered to gift Mike McCarey's Advanced Cake Sculpting class absolutely free to one of my readers!  How cool is that? Use the link below to register for the giveaway.  In order to give everyone time to enter, we are going to run the giveaway from now through  Sunday April 21st.


 Don't forget to enter and have an awesome week!

7 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing, Jen! :)

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  2. Amazing that you were able to take 2 of his classes in person!

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    1. I would take another one in a heartbeat Juanita! I am very lucky that I'm only a 2 hour drive away from the Nicholas Lodge School in Atlanta. There are lots of talented decorators that make that one of their regular stops. Hope you signed up for the class giveaway!

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  3. Awesome review Jennifer. I have ummed and ahhed about this course but you've just sealed the deal for me! I am half way through Lauren's modeling choc course, so that bit was very helpful to know too. Super excited about the giveaway.

    Love your work!
    Kate (The Greedy Baker)

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  4. Great review, I have been meaning to buy this class and keep asking myself is I really need it, I guess I do.
    What a great experience you had taking a class with him!

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  5. Can't Wait to get started on Mikes class, guess I should get the modelling choc course also :-) x

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  6. It looks like you had a great time at the class, Jennifer. It's no surprise since your instructor is "the Mike McCarey." He truly is one of the best mentors anyone could ever ask for. A sweet genius, I believe. Baking cakes and pastries is easy, but creating a story out of them can be very challenging. It takes a lot of skills and patience to accomplish such delicious artwork. :))

    Kelsey Turner

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