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!
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: (I was very tempted to only give 1/2 a star… the course was a rip off.)
Content: (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 )
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 $$.