RBA – “All Things Baking”

A Review of the 2012 All Things Baking Show, Houston, TX

Hi, my name is Greg Wagner. I work for General Mills with their Foodservice Ingredient team and I wanted to recap my view of the All Things Baking Show this past week. There were over 100 vendors with various products and services along with regional and national manufacturers and distributors in attendance.

I thought the show started out strong on Sunday as customer traffic was steady for most of the day – especially being the first day of the NFL season. Monday started off pretty steady and then slowed down by mid-afternoon and Tuesday was fairly slow. Overall I was somewhat surprised to see some folks who walked through inquiring about products and asking questions all three days of the show.

There was something there for everyone, whether it was a new piece of equipment, learning about a new process to make a product differently, an educational piece of information, an ingredient needed for a new formula to try back at the shop or maybe just to walk the floor and see what was new or trending for our industry. I do feel that most people nowadays are fairly specific as to what they are looking for before they get to the show and have pre-planned accordingly. With what has happened with the cupcake and custom cake phenomenon the past few years, I did notice a lot of specialty cake shops that were looking at obtaining ingredients in a larger format and wanting to know the difference between a box mix versus a 50 pound bag. I feel our segment of the bakery business is well served in handling those requests as there were several manufacturer’s present with good quality mixes and bases available to those folks.

I thought the highlight of the show overall was the Cake Decorating competition and it seems to always be a draw for on-lookers getting some ideas and tips from the cakes on display. I will honestly say that whoever has the backbone to go through the competition at the national level has to be admired because to achieve that level you had to win at a regional level first. The Upper Midwest was represented very well overall as was Minnesota in particular. The overall Pillsbury Grand Champion for 2012 was Rachel Vaughn from the Cakery in Dayton, Ohio as she edged out Keeann Richards-Cramer from Jerry’s Foods in Edina, MN who finished an extremely close 2nd place overall in the competition.

Each contestant had to do a cake for five separate categories and Keeann actually finished with the Gold Medal in three categories overall-props??? to Keeann! Third place went to Krystina Gianaris from the Kake Kouture represented by the New Jersey Board of Trade. There were nine competitors from all across the country represented at Nationals.

In closing, while it seems our industry seems to be shrinking compared to when I attended my first national convention in 1982, I will say that from what I see in my travels there is still a lot of baking going on in this business, although it is being done through all different types of businesses. It might be a specialty shop, an apple orchard, coffee shop, grocery store, convenience store, etc., just to name a few and oh of course, the neighborhood retail bakery as well!!!

Happy Baking!

Greg Wagner