Day Two of Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour dawned bright and early this morning and, after an absolutely shocking night of sleep (or pretty much no sleep to be more specific), it was time to head to the launch of the Bolton Food & Drink Festival.
Organised by Bolton Council, with the support of generous event sponsors Aldi, Willmott Dixon and Stateside Foods, the Bolton Food & Drink Festival is the largest festival of its type in the north and across the weekend, celebrity chefs including Michael Caines, Ainsley Harriot, James Martin and everyone’s favourite GBBO winner, Nadiya Hussain, will be hosting a series of live demonstrations and events.
Now in its 13th year, the organisers are constantly building and improving the attractions on offer to keep it fresh for the thousands of visitors and this year is no exception. It’s looks set to be a bumper weekend once again.
In addition to attending the morning’s VIP launch event, I was going to spend the rest of the day shadowing one of the stars of Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers, Rose Dummer – AKA Rosie Cake-Diva as she delivered the Extreme Cake that she had cooked up for the event.
Now, it has to be said: I had always assumed that the ‘extreme’ in Extreme Cake Makers referred to the extreme size of the cakes produced or even the extreme levels of talent on display during each episode. However, after spending a day walking around in Rose’s shoes (not literally, you understand – although she had enough of them with her), I now realise that ‘extreme’ refers to the extreme stress of delivering these giant creations.
As soon as I met up with my dear friend Rose, she confessed that she only currently had half of the cake on site. Her husband Jamie was supposed to have followed on with the other half in a hire van, but he had broken down and was waiting for a replacement vehicle! For a while there, we were worried that he wouldn’t make it in time! But, luckily, he arrived with time to spare however, the dramas didn’t end there…
The weather also seemed to be acting against us, with bright sunshine one moment and torrential downpours the next. In fact, all day we were faced with insane weather – one minute we were worried about the cake being in the car in blazing sunshine, the next, we were panicking about transferring the cake into a venue during an actual deluge.
After practically backing the cars into the marquee, we were still faced with one final foot of open air. We experimented with umbrellas, but then someone had the bright idea of forming a tunnel of fabric to keep the cake dry. It was inspired!
Mr Cake-Diva (as I’m sure he will be thrilled to be known) and I managed to carry the first half of the cake into the marquee without incident, but as we were lifting the second half, disaster struck. I won’t go into huge amounts of gory detail, but imagine trying to lift something extremely heavy at an odd angle and your knee makes a crunch noise – that was me. Luckily, we managed to put the cake back down safely, but I think it will take me quite some time to recover from the embarrassment of being attended by first aiders in front of the assembled press and VIP guests – although I must say a huge thank you to the Bolton team for looking after me so well. I’m not sure what I’ve done to it to be honest, but it certainly didn’t enjoy the experience. I’m hoping that a good night’s sleep (fingers crossed) and a handful of painkillers will help.
Rose’s incredible cake was inspired by the current refurbishment taking place at the Bolton Museum, which contains an incredible collection of around 12,000 objects from over 65 sites in Egypt.
After being unveiled at the launch event, we would then be taking it on to the Market Place Shopping Centre, where it will be displayed for the rest of the festival alongside the Market Place’s Egyptian Adventure experience, before being donated to Urban Outreach – a charity that supports the most disadvantaged, vulnerable and complex adults and young people in Bolton.
However, I am getting ahead of myself! The launch event kicked off with a surprise opera-singing waiter, before Rosie invited all of the assembled special guests to take their seats, if they could navigate their way past the very exciting goodie bags, which even included a whole herb garden!
As a delicious brioche brunch was served, we heard from the leader of Bolton Council, Councillor Linda Thomas; the CEO of Bolton Council, Tony Oakman; and Director of Logistics at headline sponsor Aldi, Virgil Simpson, before Double-Michelin-Starred chef, Michael Caines took to the stage with an exclusive brunch-themed demonstration: How to create the perfect Omelette Arnold Bennett.
Rosie then told us a bit more about the cake, revealing that she had signed her name on it in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, as well as the name of her Extreme Cake Makers camera man and her daughter Maddie. The sarcophagus’ cartouche however, features the word Bolton written in the traditional pictograms.
As the event drew to a close, the Lady Mayor declared the event officially open and then it was all hands on deck to redress the venue ready for the evening’s VIP gala dinner. I didn’t get an invitation to that one though! But that’s fine – I enjoyed my Creamy Cheese Pasta Mug Shot!
The next job for us was to relocate the cake to its home for the rest of the festival, the Market Place Shopping Centre – a task that was easier said than done! After my earlier injury, I decided to stay out of the way during the heavy lifting this time, but this seemed to go with a hitch (Jamie really is a marvel you know). Navigating the crowds however, especially as many of the roads around the main festival area had been blocked off, was an entirely different can of worms.
We eventually made it though, after looping around some one-way systems, sending members of the Bolton team racing across the town centre to retrieve keys for various vehicles (they really do work hard to make the weekend a success), relocating a row of Portaloos and some fairly impressive driving by Mr Cake-Diva (seriously, a marvel) – then we met up with the Extreme Cake Makers crew (only a few hours later than expected), Roger & Blaze, to record the all-important arrival footage.
I think they missed a trick by not joining us at the launch party though. Between Jamie’s breakdown (the van, not him personally), the weather and my injury, I think it would have been TV gold! Although, I am thankful that the embarrassment factor was not compounded by it being shown for all the world to see in national television.
Once we were all set up, it was time to cut the cake and I’ll tell you what, when the public think that they’re going to get a free slice of cake, they’re vicious! I’ve never been elbowed out the way so much in such a short space of time! It really was lovely to see how excited everyone was by Rosie’s incredible creation though and the word on the street is that the chocolate orange cake tasted just as good as it looked! I didn’t even to get to try any myself though – the risk of further injury ensured that I stayed at a safe distance from the action.
All in all, I really enjoyed my day shadowing Rosie Cake-Diva, but I don’t know if I could do this all the time. Just like her husband, she really is a marvel and great fun to be around. Thank you so much for letting me join you my dear Rose and for a really fun day!
Of course, I only managed to see a tiny corner of the festival today, so I am looking forward to exploring the rest of the sights, smells and delights on offer tomorrow. But in the meantime, I think it is time to head back to the hotel to ice my knee and take it easy for rest of the evening!
So, there you have it! Day two and we already have dramas, injuries and celebrity encounters! I told you Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour was going to be exciting! If you enjoyed today’s post, do pop a comment below and let me know, and don’t forget to hit the subscribe button (over on the right) to ensure you can follow the rest of my UK tour! You will also need to hit confirm in the email I send you.
Until tomorrow, sweet dreams… x