UPDATE: Monday the ‘Cake Wars’ program aired, showed the set-by-step Smurfs-themed process in which Sublime Cake Design, a Redding bakery, was a contestant. A gathering at Bleachers Bar in Redding watched the show until the end, when Sublime was presented with the $10,000 prize. Congratulations, Wiley and Tiffanie Saccheri and your Sublime Cake Design team.
Join me in welcoming Wiley Saccheri, co-owner and cake designer at Sublime Cake Design on Park Marina Drive in Redding. If you visit Sublime Cake Design’s website, you’ll see a description of Sublime Cake Design as … a family-owned and operated business born out of a passion to create custom cakes with amazing edible artwork and out-of-this-world taste.
Welcome to A News Cafe.com, and congratulations on your second time on Cake Wars. Most people in your profession wouldn’t dream of being on the show, once, let alone a second time. Pretty impressive.
First, can you tell a bit about Sublime Cake Design, yourself and your team?
Thanks! Competing on Cake Wars fulfills many of my lifelong dreams, and has been amazing!
Sublime Cake Design is a family business that came from the idea that Redding needed a high-end custom cake shop. We’ve had bakeries come and go, but haven’t had much consistency there. Customized cakes in bigger cities can be quite expensive due to the laborious time involved, and we wanted to provide that for Shasta county for an affordable price. My wife Tiffanie and mother-in-law Jackie New saw that I, Wiley Saccheri, had developed a knack for the baked arts, and in 2011 invested their time and savings into utilizing those skills for a business we could all work and manage. It has since grown very organically with the help of family, friends and customers enthralled with our product, using word of mouth and social media as our sole advertising medium. We are lucky to have engaged such tremendous support from our little town.
The kind of contest in which you’re in on the Cake Wars, that’s extreme. What led to that level of cake mastery? And while you prepare for that answer, we’ll look at a sample from the Sublime photo gallery. Incredible cakes!
I am a self-taught artist, which means long, arduous blocks of time utilizing trial by fire to figure things out. I have always loved arts, but music came more naturally to me than drawing and painting growing up. Nevertheless, I persisted in my pilgrimage of powdered sugar and kept at it until I felt like I had a place in this industry. I got a jump start and a stroke of luck when my wife and I were chosen to assist the world class cake artist Roland Winbeckler and his wife Marsha on TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off in 2009. That really revved up my passion for baked art and gave me a taste of the cake TV show experience.
What was the process to get on the show, and why did you want to do it?
After the brush with television from Ultimate Cake Off, I focused on the business for a few years until I started itching to compete again. I was sitting at lunch one day and found a website casting call for a new Food Network show starring Duff Goldman, my cake rock star idol. The catch, though, was that it was the last day they were accepting video applicants! I rushed to complete a short video that night, and sent it off in the morning with fingers crossed. Lo and behold I was chosen for the show entitled Duff Till Dawn (now available on NETFLIX) and got my first glimpse at advertising my own work and business through national television. I didn’t win the competition, but it did give me a bit of clout and resume-bolstering that certainly helped when I applied for Cake Wars the following year. Since then I have taken every opportunity available to me, as I know that each experience will help lead into the next.
Can you tell those of us who missed it how your last experience on the show went? And a little behind the scenes of what it’s like for the contestants during the process, too, please?
Competing on Cake Wars the first time was insane. The show is way more structured than the more laid back attitude on the set of Duff Till Dawn. It was high energy, but also high pressure. You are expected not only to perform artistically in a short period of time, but also be entertaining! This catered to my earliest career goal as a kid to be an actor. This was the first time I realized that reality shows like this certainly can, and will, make you do things that are out of your comfort zone. Think you came here to make a flawless cake and look good? Think again, bud, because we’re going to make you drop a cake! Understandably, television above all is made to entertain, and seeing four decorators with their heads down working hard isn’t as exciting as you might think.
What did you learn from that?
The biggest thing I took away from Duff Till Dawn and Cake Wars is that having fun and being yourself is number one. Sure, the cake has to be great as well, but if you are having a blast and it shows on your face, everything else will fall into place. I like to stress myself out more than normal in advance of these competitions, so that by the time I get there I have nothing else to worry about. I had a structural issue in Duff Till Dawn that may have lost me the competition, so in Cake Wars I really focused on structure. No one wants to be that guy/gal with their finished cake on the floor!
A cake on the floor after all that work? That would be agony!
Once contestants are chosen, what information are you given so you can prepare, and what guidelines and rules do you have to follow?
It’s no secret that reality TV isn’t all that “real” — so I’m sure it’s no surprise to you if I were to say we do know a bit about what we have to make going into the competition. I’m not going to say that, because I am contractually obligated not to. 🙂
They have a decent amount of rules and contracts, but really not as many as I would have thought. They truly want you to get in there and express yourself through cake and have fun doing it. The production staff on set are amazing people, full of energy and always willing to help you and pump you up. They value your time and art, and it makes you feel important. It truly feels like you are just making a TV show with your friends.
Well, I’m here to assure Food Network that you’ve been completely discreet.
What’s the hardest part about competing in an event like this?
The toughest thing for me in decorating, and in life, is organization and time management. In my bakery at home, I have everything where I can find it, but it has taken time to get it there. On set, you have only a few hours to get in there and set up your station and organize. If it were just me, I would be doomed. Luckily, my wife Tiffanie, who was my assistant in the challenge, is a fantastic organizer and kept me on track with a timeline. I truly would not have been able to pull any of this off without her.
It sounds like you have the perfect team.
So, this contest in which you participated … Smurfs? That sounds like a lot of blue food coloring. Are you allowed to tell us how you executed the design? And what did it entail?
Lets just say all hands and aprons were a nice shade of aqua by the end of the day!
I can’t say much about our design at this point, but I will say that in any cake design I try to focus on the big picture first and foremost. The overall shape, silhouette, and perspective are the most important things to me. Filling in the details can then just happen as it needs to. So many decorators focus on the little things first, like figurines, flowers, etc., and then just toss all of that on a tiered cake. I truly believe that the main reason I won Cake Wars the first time is my unique shape and structure of the design. I am certainly taking that into account again this time, so let’s hope it works out!
As for materials, I am lucky to live close enough to Los Angeles to drive down there. Let’s just say my little green van was stuffed to the brim with cake, icing and tools. I used roughly 40 lbs of icing, 20 lbs of modeling chocolate, and about 300 servings of cake in addition to the materials they had for me to use!
At this point in a contest like this, does anybody really care what the cake tastes like?
Actually, YES! They really do eat the cake you provide, and it can affect you at the judging table. I tend to think that design can win over taste, but I have seen episodes where two cakes are neck and neck and are decided upon based on flavor. I guess it’s more of a tie breaker if anything. They also force you to use odd ingredients in round one and still pull of a tasty cake. The first time around we had some wild flavors on the table, including herring, lamb and elderberry.
You’ll have a gathering at Bleacher’s Sports Bar and Grill 5 p.m.Monday. March 27 for people to come watch the airing of the show. Of course, you know the outcome. Can you give us a hint?
We are excited to watch it live with everyone else! We do not get a preview showing, so I’m always a bit nervous how the show will make me look. I always tell them to make me look really cool, funny, and skinny, but they don’t seem to heed my advice too well… 😉 Unfortunately that’s about all I can say, so you’ll have to just watch it!
I’m going to try to be there, but in the meantime, but in the meantime, is there anything I’ve forgotten to ask, or that you’d like to say?
I would just like to add that without the immense support from my wife, in-laws, close friends and of course our loyal customers that have become friends, I would never have made it to this point. My hope is to make all of those people in my life proud, and I feel privileged to be here serving them each a slice of CAKE!