For about a decade, students from the OSU Institute of Technology’s School of Culinary Arts have volunteered their time to help at the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show held every year during the Tulsa State Fair.
Culinary Arts students Tyler Graham and Beth Rice both volunteered this year because they have an interest in baking and desserts.
“I helped a woman set up her cake, and I’ve already learned a few tricks,” Rice said.
Graham said volunteering is a good opportunity to network.
“It gets us out there meeting the artists,” he said, and what they do is impressive. “It’s art. You can see the fear in their eyes if it were destroyed. It makes you want to work harder.”
Chef Grady Perryman, an instructor at OSUIT’s School of Culinary Arts, said volunteering at the show is a rare opportunity to get to interact with the best cake and sugar artists in the world.
“They make connections that will help them find jobs in the world. They learn that it’s good to help with something you won’t receive compensation for in return— other than knowledge that is,” Perryman said. “Our students have been volunteering for the show for at least 10 years and are now definitely a part of the Sugar Art Show.”
Past and present students, as well instructors, can also participate in the show.
Perryman entered a chocolate sculpture of a bison that took first place in the professional chocolate division. Former student Coeta Dooley also took first place in the adult beginner tiered wedding cakes.
Rice entered the adult beginner decorated cookies division and took third place.
“I wanted to get the experience. I learned I need much more practice,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to get into professional cake decorating and sugar arts.”
Volunteering at the show also serves as boost to the students’ creativity.
“I wanted to know how they translate their inspiration into cake,” Rice said. “I gives you inspiration. 'How do you do that? I want to do that.’ Being in there helping them, feeling that tension and excitement.”
In addition to entering the competition, Perryman also served as a tasting judge.
“Judging the desserts is not as fun as some people would have you think. Tasting 30 different desserts can take quite a toll on your gut,” he said. “That said, I’m always glad to help out where and when I’m needed.”