Monday, February 17, 2014

Learning From The Best (Part 1)

I always say, "If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best". And this year, I was fortunate enough to join 2 Master classes in America, with 2 world famous cake designers. 

First on the agenda was with Ron Ben-Israel. He is in a class of his own when it comes to sugar flowers. He is THE master! He's also created groundbreaking techniques, by using silicone to create moulds from actual jewellery to put onto cakes. His flowers look so real, you'd be fooled if you couldn't touch them. And the jewellery he makes, are all entirely edible. It's absolutely amazing what he can do with sugar.

And look at that - I've just googled his name, and instead of a domain name of "", he's got as his website address! That just proves how big he is!

Ron operates from his NYC studio, and only comes out to teach twice a year. I saw that he had released his 2 dates for 2014. One in January in Savannah and the other in March, in Toronto. I immediately tried to get into the Savannah course, but it was sold out. A few days later, a second session was introduced in Savannah. 

Immediately, I signed up. No questions asked. It was a done deal. I was going to learn from the best. 

Months later, the time had come to go. Despite the polar vortex hitting America, right when I was due to leave, it did not deter me. I was super excited. Going to NYC had always been a dream for me, and now I had a great excuse to go! From KL, my route would take me to Dubai, then onto to NYC, then down to Savannah. I travelled for 25 hours and then had a brief break in NYC, before continuing onto Savannah, which took another 2.5 hours by plane.

Upon arrival in the beautiful town of Savannah, the Southern hospitality lived up to its name. Everyone was warm and full of smiles. The sun was shining, the weather was lovely and cool, and the city itself was so charming. It was love at first sight. I was so happy I decided to make the long journey. 

Love the Spanish Moss-covered trees

Some shots of the Historical Distrcit. Gorgeous parks and squares and tree-lined streets everywhere!

River Street

The first day was a little nerve wrecking. When I was having breakfast at my hotel, I thought to myself, "In half an hour, I will get to meet THE Ron Ben-Israel". It still didn't hit me. Yet. 

So I walk to the Hyatt and when I arrived, the class was almost full. And weaving through the other students, I saw Ron's back. OMG. There he was. I DID NOT expect to see him there 30 minutes before class was due to start. Taken aback, instead of keeping quiet, I muttered, "OMG. It's Ron", followed by a gasp. The girls around me all giggled and gave me great, big smiles.

So I walked over, ever so calmly to him (yeeeaah right, my heart was pounding), and introduced myself and shook his hand. I absolutely can't remember what else I said to him, but all I can remember were these stupid words - "I must get a picture with you." And then he replied with, "And I must get a picture with YOU!" 

*face palm*

Jessica, you fool! I could have crawled under the table to die.

Right. Moving along, I find my seat and get my organised. Minette Rushing and her team had organised a box full of goodies for each student. We had everything we needed for our 3 day class. 

We started with a little intro of each of the students and it was amazing to hear how many had travelled from afar. There were students from Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, UK, all over America, and of course, little ol' me, Miss Malaysia, as Ron fondly called me. I came from the farthest out of the group of 20 of us. Even Minette, was impressed :)

Class in progress
The 3 day program consisted of 6 flowers, which were the Rose, Peony, French Tulip, Stephanotis, Gloriosa Lily, and Calla Lily. Attending a course is rewarding because not only were we up close and personal with Ron, we could interact with him as well. There are tons of books and tutorials online, but having this one-on-one demonstration and guidance, is like no other. Ron worked with us step-by-step, and he had a strict timeline for each step. I thought that was great and kept us on our toes.

He was also very clear that if we wanted to talk with one another, our eyes should be on our work table, and not to our classmates. Hahaha! I loved that about him! Get to work!!

As the day progressed, we got our petals done for our Peonies, centres for the Tulips and Calla Lilies, and all the leaves for the Roses and Stephanotis.

The next day, we moved on to the Gloriosa Lily petals, Tulips, Calla Lilies, and Roses. It was a busy day, but we all got through. Ron was very clear and precise every step of the way. 

My favourite flower to make is the Rose. I absolutely love making roses and learning how to make it Ron's way, was fantastic to see. They are magnificent! Thank you Ron, for sharing this with us. I am truly grateful for all that the knowledge you passed onto us.

Me and my rose

The lovely Sarah and I

Ron's beautiful rose
As we move onto our last day, everyone is all smiles and Ron is in a great mood! It was all downhill from here and we were all in great spirits. Right up till the point where he introduced the Stephanotis to us. This tiny flower, was the enemy. There were so many steps involved and I think Ron must have demo'd it to us, 4 times. We spent a good 45 minutes TRYING to make these blossoms, and when I finally got it after 5 failed ones, it was time to stop. Arrggghh!! I was so frustrated and wanted to carry on making GOOD Stephanotis instead of ugly ones!

As tedious as they were, the Stephanotis is beautiful and I can see myself making these in the future for my cakes. I love them!

So the next step was to wire all of our flowers. We wired the Peonies and Gloriosa Lilies and then it was time to dust. This is where everybody was quiet and in their happy place. Everyone was so at peace. We dusted with pinks and ivory's and greens and watched our flowers come to life. Just a little touch of petal dust brought the flower to a whole new level.

Final day, and everyone is happy!

Dusted leaves. Love them!
Starstruck beyond belief!
And so it was the end of the day, and we had one hour for "Q & A". This I thought was invaluable. And such a great way to finish off the class. Ron was basically an open book and obliged us all to any questions we had. Fantastic. I had a million questions, but I stuck to what was relevant and he answered all of mine precisely. I can't thank you enough, Ron. My experience in Savannah was a huge highlight of my USA trip and it was an investment I'm so glad I took.

Carolina, Wendy, Bonnie, and I. We all got on so well and had SO much fun after class! Missing all you xx

Carolina! Awesome chick from Miami!

So proud!

Wendy! We hit it off like a house on fire! Love her!

With my Certificate of Completion

Ron, Minette and I
Not only did I gain valuable knowledge for myself, but I met such wonderful people along the way, in such a charming little city. Savannah - in my son's words, you are truly awesome! 

Thanks for reading
Miss Shortcakes xx

Next up - Karen Portaleo in Pennsylvania.


  1. wow! I enjoyed reading this,and am looking forward to see these amazing flowers your cakes!!!!!!!

    1. @Anonymous, thank you so much for reading and yes, I can't wait to start making these flowers soon!! xx

  2. Amazzzzzzing! 2013 best 10 or should I say 10 +1 and the rest of your designs - so many different themes, sizes, colours , all from your home studio, and a one person operation!!!

    1. @Benson, thank you thank you for your kind words and thank you for taking the time out to read my blog. :)

  3. Awesome chick from Miami :)))))February 17, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Ms. Malaysia :)) Beautiful review my friend! YOU'RE the coolest chick! I talked to Mr. Ron Ben Israel himself AKA Grand Master and he was super impressed by you! Thought you were super sweet and loved your positivity! ..and I absolutely love the way he says "Ms. Malaaaaysia" with such sweetness and quite the smile! :))

    You sure know how to leave a lasting impression :))

    Till next class!


    1. @Awesome chick from Miami!! You're the best! So glad to have met you! And I'm so proud of you doing what you're doing at Ron's! You go get 'em! Looking forward to catching up again soon!! xxx