Who's the best cake maker in my town? In Yorkshire? In the UK? The world?
Is it Dominique at Poppy Pickering, with her exquisite sugar work, modern yet classic clean cakes and flawless presentation? Is it Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe's Fancy Cakes, who can make literally anything out of modelling paste? Perhaps Shawna McGreevy who has stunned literally millions of people with her artistry; or Zoe Clark, whose sugar flowers are indistinguishable from those you can find in your garden.
The answer is: none of them. No one is the best cake maker in the world. It's like asking who the best human in the world is. Each one of us is unique and brings something different that no one else can. Each cake artist has their own talent, their own recipes and their own personality.
So I'm talking today about whether we should use these terms. It's tempting, when you're running a business, to just tell everyone that you're the best. Your cakes are the best, your customer service is the best. You're the solution. But that would be 1) untrue; in my opinion, 2) damaging to the profession; and 3) doing a disservice to our customers.
1) It's untrue
...because someone is always better than you at something. You could make the best sugar flowers in town but not be able to carve a cake for toffee (or salted caramel). You might have the fluffiest sponge, but really struggle to get those edges sharp. Even the absolute greatest greats out there would 100% say there's something they know someone else is better at.
2) It's damaging to the profession
There is enough negativity and unprofessionalism in the cake industry (well let's face it, in humanity!). The comments that abound on social media concerning price, technique and anything else someone wants to get annoyed about are frankly, embarrassing. We should be supporting each other, not dragging each other down. There are enough people in our towns and cities who like cake and want to buy it. There are enough different styles of cake that we can all find our niche. We can cheer each other on while still driving ourselves to improve and build our businesses.
3) It's a disservice to our customers
Customers have a problem that needs solving. My customers need a cake; I make cakes. However, sometimes they need a cake when I'm on holiday. Or they want cake pops, which I will never, ever attempt to make! I don't want to just turn people away; I want to give them a different solution to their problem. That's why I'm in business. So I generally say, I can recommend So and So at Such and Such Cakes; you can find her on Facebook and she's based in CakeLand, just down the road. Customers love this. It's so frustrating to call a number, thinking you'll sort your cakey problem out, and then be back to square one. If I was gunning against all the other local cake makers, there would never be this spirit of wanting to recommend them to people. Also, thankfully this has only happened once, but I am a human being and I get sick. I can guarantee to all my customers that their cakes will get delivered whatever happens, because I have a large network of local cake makers who've got my back - and I've got theirs. The lady who set this up is a genius!
It's better for us, and it's better for our customers, if we champion each other instead of making out we are the winners in some impossible, non-existent race. What do you think?