This year Katie Harper was prepared for what she would see at the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show.
“I was shocked last year,” said Harper, a student in OSU Institute of Technology’s School of Culinary Arts. “I was shocked to hear one of the cakes came all the way from Australia. They come from all over the place.”
Every year, Culinary Arts students volunteer their time during the two day event held during the Tulsa State Fair to help out with everything from loading and unloading cakes, running errands for organizers and cake artists, assisting during cooking demos, and monitoring the cakes while on display to the public.
“Seeing the beautiful designs— different shapes, different styles. There are all kinds of neat cakes,” Harper said.
Stephanie Brakebill, another Culinary student, also returned for a second year to volunteer at the show. She grew up around baking and cake decorating, so she was already familiar with the sugar art show.
“I knew about it and how elaborate the cakes were,” Brakebill said. “It’s a huge thing. We have cake decorators from all over the world; we have cakes from all over the world.”
Chef Grady Perryman, an instructor at the School of Culinary Arts, has been a judge for the Sugar Art Show’s tasting competition for more than 10 years, about the same amount of time students from the school have been volunteering at the show.
“It’s good networking for the students. They get to meet these cake artists. It’s the best sugar art in the world, some of the best craftsmanship in the world,” Perryman said. “There’s always something you can learn. They may see something they thought they could never do.”
Brakebill said she’s had those exact same thoughts.
“There are some cakes I look at, and I think ‘I’ll never be able to do that,’ but there are others where I think I could do that with some practice,” she said. “You get inspiration.”
Harper said she’s really enjoyed getting to meet and talk with some of the cake artists, who have even gifted her with some of their extra tools.
“I used some of the tools to decorate my niece’s birthday cake,” she said, and it’s spurred her to continue. “I’m thinking about taking advanced baking or show pieces.”
Perryman said about 25 students volunteered this year to help out with the Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show.
“The show’s organizers really count on our students to be there for that extra help,” he said. “I appreciate the students who volunteer. It’s long days, it’s a lot of work. I appreciate all their hard work.”