Cake Decorating / cooking / Fun / Lisamaree

Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1 (Hong Kong) – Complete!

I had the last of my 4 classes today. I was really disappointed in myself for the decorating I did and the colours I chose. I passed the class – sure, but I wanted to achieve more in my final cake. 

I had put a lot of thought into my design (perhaps too much), and had  a plan of what I wanted to achieve, however with only 40 minutes to create it, I felt too rushed and cramped. Ultimately though, I made bad decision choices with my colours and the cake looks too washed out. I’m going to do another ‘rose’ cake in the coming weeks to see if I can come up with something that better reflects the skills I actually learnt in the class.

I met some wonderful ladies in the class, and they all produced some amazing cakes in the end!

My graduating class, with the instructor (Pam) in the centre

My graduating class, with our instructor in the centre

 

I promised to review this course so here it is…

4 Day Workshop – Wilton Method Cake Decorating – Beginner’s Cake Decorating – Course 1 – Presented by Complete Deelite, Hong Kong

2 Hours per day, HK$1400 (includes Starter Kit and certificate)

I came into this course keen and excited about what I would learn. I have always loved Wilton products, and the idea of cake decorating, so I was ready to be shown the Wilton way, and hopefully learn lots of handy tips along the way. 

Initially the price of the course didn’t seem too bad for the chance to learn the Wilton method, given I had never seen an equivalent course in Sydney.  Based on current exchange rates: HK$1400 = US$181 or AU$282

However, after the first class, I discovered the courses are actually only US$40 in most places in the USA (or at the moment 50% off – so US$20!!!). This doesn’t include the starter kit of course, but it certainly doesn’t cost an extra US$140. I figured – ok – the classes are expensive because of the distance – I am sure it costs a bit more for the class to run with Wilton supplies when they are shipped from the USA. I then discovered the same course running in New Zealand, which is every bit as isolated as Hong Kong from the USA.. it runs for NZ$80 + NZ$46 (for the starter kit). That is $HK491. So I was left thinking and wondering what was going to be included additionally in this class to make up for the huge difference in price… and after completing the course, I’ve yet to figure out why it costs so much more than other locations.

Additional to this, is further cost for things needed to participate in the class. Virtually no tools outside of what you receive in the Starter Kit are supplied (The Starter Kit consists of basic “must have” items like a spatula, seven tips, a flower nail, a tip brush, a decorator brush, a practice board set, two 10″ featherweight decorating bags, a disposable decorating bag, two standard couplers and a Course 1 book). You are encouraged (much like a used car sales man giving you the hard sell)  to purchase from their shop, and for participating in a Wilton course, you get 5% off the cost of Wilton products purchased. The 5% discount was never mentioned to us in the class or by the shop until we mentioned that the courses in Singapore get a 10% discount. This left myself and others wondering if we would have gotten any discount if we hadn’t said anything.

To give you an indication, so far, I have spent at least another HK$1000 on additional things either recommended or required for the course (that is WITH the discount). Every class required us to turn up with not only a suite of tools, but icing as well.. so a large sturdy carry bag was a must. Nothing was supplied for the class in the way of icing, cakes, boxes, cake boards… nada. 

The first class showed us how to prepare a cake, make buttercream icing, preparing decorating bags, different icing thicknesses, and the basics of icing a cake – all by demonstration – it really wet our appetite for the skills we were going to learn. The second and third classes focussed on icing techniques. The fourth class spent half the time on icing techniques and half the class decorating our own cake.

The course itself spends the majority of the time watching the instructor, then copying the skills needed with your own icing (made at home, brought from home, unless you wish to purchase it… did I mention there was a lot of emphasis on buying things from within the store) onto a student board. There was no actual decorating on a cake until the final class, and only about an hour was allocated for the icing of the cake and decorating. We were all disappointed there was no CAKE decorating in class 2 or class 3, as we wanted to put our skills to practice once we had mastered the decoration on the student board. Not only that, but after looking at others who have done the same course overseas, they all did a cake per class. I feel ripped off by that. Again, what am I paying the extra premium for when I did less in my classes than Wilton classes held overseas. 

The instructor, whilst obviously skilled as a cake decorator and enthusiastic about her craft lacked spontaneity in the class environment. She occasionally offered tips and suggestions or ‘inside knowledge’ about decorating outside of the course curriculum, but almost always had to be prompted by the students with questions, which were sometimes addressed with reluctance. She refused to even demonstrate techniques from course 2 we were curious about seeing, telling us we would have to attend course 2. There was also a lot of ‘hard sell’ on products and services of the associated company (for purchasing cakes iced and uniced) and shop. The instructor was at times difficult to interpret because the instructions she gave were not necessarily clear directions. However, when questioned, she would do a further demonstration or try to elaborate. During sessions of learning, she would observe each student and offer critique and advice to guide us getting our techniques correct. This was extremely helpful. Her manner was friendly, but due to the eager, probing and questioning nature of the group in her class (we were all keen, willing and educated on what we thought we would be learning) she was often a bit stand-offish. It came across as if the company restricted her from answering a lot of our questions and she actively avoided some of our questioning. Outside of the class environment, she was very friendly, and happy to discuss different aspects of decorating, or offer advice on sensible things to purchase for the class or decorating needs. There was a lot of laughing in class as we made funny mistakes or created decorations that weren’t quite right. As students, we all had fun while we were in class.

The classes are held in a room behind the storefront of Complete Deelite. The room was well equipped for the instructor, and we were clearly able to see her  demonstrations. There were 6 students in our class, so table space when it came to decorating the final cake was cramped. Our tools were often over the top of one another while we worked, and ideally, the workspace would be bettered served by limiting the class to only four people. My other complaint about the room was the constant distraction of people walking through ( for various reasons from getting cakes, to administration, to cleaning) while a class was taking place. There was someone sitting at a desk doing ‘paperwork’ behind some of the students, which seemed a bit ridiculous… you would think given the class is only for 2 hours and the premium price being payed, the room could be used exclusively for the class instead of shared and used as a corridor. 

Overall, despite my ‘complaints’ I enjoyed the class but that was because of the basic course structure, not the instruction, services, products or facilities offered by Complete Deelite. The skills I have come away with are invaluable. I had a lot of fun, and I have confidence in the ability to create beautiful decorations for and on my cakes using buttercream icing. 

Would I do another class? Given the exclusivity of the market Complete Deelite commands in Hong Kong, perhaps. I really want to continue learning the Wilton method but the extreme overpricing of the courses offered by Complete Deelite (with no added value to explain the expense) make me wary . My excitement for the actual classes and expectations of what will take place in the classes is much lower than I initially anticipated. I’m tempted to try and do a course in another country at some point to get a comparison.. and given the savings in the price of the course, that is almost an airline ticket in itself!

Ratings out of 5 (5 being the best, 1 being awful)

Value for Money: reviewstar (I was very tempted to only give 1/2 a star… the course was a rip off.)

Facilites: reviewstarreviewstarreviewstar

Content: reviewstarreviewstarreviewstar (It only gets 3 stars because of the content in the Wilton course book, which is interesting, useful and fun. Complete Deelite do not contribute to this rating )

OVERALL: reviewstarreviewstar

I umm’ed and arr’ed over the overall rating to give the course. I’m giving it 2 stars because of the expense, hard-sell tactics, and lack of open-ness when it comes to sharing expertise above and beyond the basic class structure.

If you love baking, and like the idea of decorating, you’ll probably enjoy this class, but feel like you’re pulling teeth in order to get your out-of-the-course questions answered. If you’re looking for ‘something to do’, a ‘filler’ activity, or you’re not sure you would actually make and decorate a cake outside of the course… consider how much you will use the skills and the hidden extra expense involved before giving this course a go in Hong Kong. Personally, I’d recommend saving your $$.

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10 thoughts on “Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1 (Hong Kong) – Complete!

  1. Pingback: Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1 (Hong Kong) - Complete! « Life … | MakeupCharm.Com

  2. Hello there,

    My friend took the Wilton cake decoration class from Michael Art & Craft store in San Jose, California and it cost her only $38 USD which was the amount she had to pay for her basic equipment. The tuition was free. She went to 5 classes, one time a week and each week, she came home with a different decorationed cake. They were all beautiful.

    I would like to take the class myself but after reading your comment, I may want to wait until I have a chance to take it oversea.

    Thanks you for your honest comment.

    Kim

  3. Hi Lisa

    I stumbled upon your website in search of baking/cake decorating stuff in HK. Thanks for your very honest take on the cake decorating class… I was hoping to enrol myself but given that I don’t have enough time in HK to do it (not to mention it isn’t cheap) I might have to wait until I do a course in Auckland (currently living in Wellington and they don’t do the course out here).

    Anyway, my question is, where do you get your cake decorating materials from? I am hoping you could help me with this! I was planning to visit that Deelite store and do a price comparison with Milly’s (NZ)… so far everything has been quite expensive!

    I would really appreciate your help! Thanks a lot!

    Regards
    Stephanie

  4. Stephanie: Unfortunately, from my experience, there are very limited options in HK – Complete Deelite pretty much have a monopoly on the decorating supply market. So, I have to buy most of my decorating things from them here in Hong Kong. Occasionally City Super (Causeway Bay) have some of the Wilton products in and when I see them I nab them from there as (believe it or not) they are often cheaper than CD!!! I got a couple of wilton cake tins from City Super on sale for HK$60 – HK$80 earlier in the year.
    On a recent trip home to NZ I brought a pile of stuff from Milly’s Kitchen in Auckland. It was cheaper than getting it here in Hong Kong for most things, but more importantly, they had a much larger range (particularly of icing colour pastes and decorating tips). The only reason I didn’t bring more was purely because of the weight allowance for the plane!!
    You can get a few products ‘on the cheap’ from some of the local chinese ‘kitchen’ shops (as I like to call them) here – there is one in Wan Chai where I get a lot of my basic trays and utensils from, however I prefer using the Wilton icing tips to the local ones as for some reason they seem to work better with the buttercream I am using, and so far the only places I’ve found them are at Complete Deelite and City Super.
    Pantry Magic (another baking/cooking supply store) hasn’t had any cake decorating stuff when I have been in.
    Wing On and Jusco have a limited range of mostly Japanese cake tins and very limited decorating supplies, which are generally the same or very similar to what you would get in the local chinese ‘kitchen’ shops.

    If anyone knows of other locations or want to recommend other stores in HK that stock good cake decorating supplies, please feel free to add them here.

    Good luck with your hunting and decorating!

    Lisa

  5. Frida: Complete Deelite stock the largest range, but expect to pay a premium. Limited Wilton products can also be found in some CitySuper stores. I find the CitySuper in Causeway Bay tends to have a wider range than the one in IFC most of the time, but they do not have anywhere near the product Complete Deelite do. I have yet to find anywhere else that has WIlton Stuff in large supply but I am guessing Complete Deelite might have an intentional monopoly on the market. Good luck and enjoy your decorating!

  6. Pingback: Wilton Cake Decorating Course 2 (Hong Kong) – Complete Deelite « Life… with Sprogs…

  7. I am from Singapore and now resides in HKG.
    I am not surprised that you feel upset. All the companies in Hong Kong operates this way. Even the beauty salon (Modern Beauty) I go to was a bit stand-offish and don’t even do a good facial cleansing so that they can rip me off when my skin develop oil patches – off topic, I know – but this is the situation in Hong Kong. You want something extra, you have to pay for it, nothing is free. So sad….

  8. I am from Singapore and had went for the course 1 at B,I.Y . Same feeling here I am paying approx SGD240 for the 4 lessons, and at least SGD150 for the additional wilton product for this course. Stress by bring my own make icing and cake to the class. But really like to learn more on the decoration,so had join them for the new class on Fondant & Gum Paste course this coming Sat but before the 1st course start the instructor already email me a list of Wilton products shopping list to buy. Approx. to spend another SGD100 for the products. Really envy the US resident to had learn the course at a lower budget.

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