Decorator At A Grocery Store

Decorating By lflowermoon Updated 3 Sep 2008 , 11:46am by robinscakes

lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:15pm
post #1 of 31

Can I ask everybody what is expected when working for a grocery store? This is a picture of one of my cakes, and shows the kind of work I do.
Somebody asked to interview me for a grocery store chain, but I am a little concerned...

30 replies
shellzey Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:27pm
post #2 of 31

i'm not a pro, but i think your work is beautiful. i say you go for it and have confidence in yourself =)

tiggy2 Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:34pm
post #3 of 31
lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:35pm
post #4 of 31

icon_smile.gif Thank you!
I usually work with fondant, so I am afraid that if they want something iced in buttercream, and decorated fast and simple, I am not their ideal candidate.Seeing my pictures is one thing, but decorating a cake as part of the interview is different ...It is not a designer bakery...

raggedyanne78 Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:36pm
post #5 of 31

I used to work as a cake decorator in a grocery store bakery. The store I worked at didn't do any baking, just decorating. So, we'd defrost sheet cakes that had already been iced, and the only thing we were to do was put a border on and an edible image. They really didn't have the supplies or give us the time to do creative cakes such as the one you have posted. They really do expect you to mass produce cakes... Again, that was just my experience, hope it helped.


lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:37pm
post #6 of 31

I saw the post, but they talk mostly about the pay. I would like to know more about the usual kind of work in a chain grocery store

AmyCakes2 Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:37pm
post #7 of 31

Just don't sell yourself short....your work is beautiful and you'll need to keep in mind if your creativeness will be "hindered". For example, will you be able to create the cakes you want - or will you have to follow their guidelines and only decorate the way they want you to?
Also, make sure they pay you enough for your experience/talent. Sometimes you can make more doing it yourself than at a chain.
My best to you!

justgale Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:44pm
post #8 of 31

Trust me you shouldn't hardly ever be expected to do anything that fancy at a grocery store. I'm a manager at a well known chain store bakery and have worked for other chain store bakeries as well. What they are looking for is someone who can do boarders, base ice the cakes, air brush background to put kits on, make roses and write on a cake. That's about it. Speed helps alot too. The faster you are the better. Lately I've been doing anywhere from 10-25 cakes a day and I can't keep my case full. The designs are all pretty basic and you will quickly get tired of doing the same thing over and over but sometimes you get the chance to be creative and try new things. Confidence is great if you have it. The girl I have working for me now does beatiful work, but she doesn't have alot of confidence or creativity so she is afraid to suggest new designs or ideas to the customer. If it's not in the book or is she doesn't have a picture to go off of she doesn't do it. If/when you go into an interview just take along a few pictures of your cakes and let them know what you can do. That is what I've done in the past and it always impresses them. Plus with most places if you have experience it equals out to more pay too. Good Luck

cakedout Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:45pm
post #9 of 31

The grocery store decorating experience I had years ago, was mainly one of speed and very little creativity. We did a series of "standard" flower designs, and a series of basic wedding cake designs, then we did icing pictures: clients chose from a set of design cards and we used the cards in a projector to copy the pic in icing onto the cake.

We were expected to decorate a standard flower design cake in 5 minutes; a basic wedding cake in 1 hour or less. It was all production based.

These days there are bakeries that can do some more creative 3-D stuff, but the expectations are still the same, I'd imagine: production!

What I do appreciate from my bakery days is that I was able to fine-tune my basic skills and learn the necessary speed when I had my own business: you can't make any money if a birthday cake takes you all day to decorate!

So what I am saying is this: if you want to learn more about the bakery business and hone your decorating skills ( and don't mind only using your creative side when you do cakes at home), then go for the experience!

lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 1:59pm
post #10 of 31

Thanks everybody!
Speed is not a problem, but I do not ice cakes with butterceam (like a fondant, finished look), and I do not have airbrush. My concern is that my skills are useless at the grocery store and even if I can make a sugar vase, I am not qualified to work at a chain ...

teenteen Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 2:07pm
post #11 of 31

I just went through the same thing. I work for Publix. (Just for xtra $$) It is a high volume store and all the cakes come in sheets (from the Publix plant) where we have to cut, ice, border and decorate them. They want them done fast and pretty. 90% of the designs come from DecoPac anyway. You will be fine if you just do the basic well-buttercream base icing. roses, leaves, airbrush, and piping/writing.

Prime example, a week after I started my new job a customer came up and wanted a cowboy boot. I knew that could carve one, decorate it and offered to do so after consulting with the dept. manager. However, one of the other 'veteran decorators' overheard and chimed in "We don't do that!" in front of the customer. I was new and did not want to alienate myself so soon with my co-workers. So, I told the customer no at that point and apologized. She made me feel like a criminal for going outside of the box! I am still wondering if did she not want me to do it because she couldn't. The long and short of it is that I realized that a lot of chain store decorators don't do custom work but they are great at what they do. My department manager was the only person who has seen my personal business work (That's how I got the job.). I keep quiet otherwise about what I can do. Your creativity may be hindered because of store policy or jealous folks. You will realize for the pay, that most grocery stores don't deserve your extra knowledge anyway.

justgale Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 2:13pm
post #12 of 31

Most cakes come in pre-iced nowdays. The only ones we get that aren't are the 8 inch rounds and the 1/2 sheet cakes. If your very picky about all the details and want every cake to look perfect then maybe this isn't the right job for you. Most of the people picking up cakes don't even notice all the little flaws we see in the cake. (like the iceing not being perfectly smooth) Airbrush you can learn, it just takes pratice. I can't say this enough SPEED is the main thing they are going to be looking for. I'm definetly not the fastest around but I would expect someone working for me to be able to knock out at least 8 1/8 of a sheet cakes in under an hour. Not that happens that often but I can always dream of the day that I'll get someone hired who is both good and fast.

lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 2:29pm
post #13 of 31

I might fail the "icing the cake with buttercream "test...THEY might be picky with the flaws, and so judge my work as mediocre!

giggysmack Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 2:34pm
post #14 of 31

I worked for a local grocery store. Yes every thing is iced in a whipped style icing once in a while you get to do buttercream. The grocery store will not have anything to do with fondant or gumpaste. And we aribrushed all the time. Yes speed is what they want we had a 5-15 minute limit on a cake. I remember getting in trouble lots of times for decorating outside the box. The other decorators would say we don't do that too. I later found out the reason why they say that is because if you leave then the customers expect the same quality of work that can not be provided by someone else. I wouldn't worry because they will train you in their method of decorating. Justgale is right about the imperfections it goes on the shelf anyway. You will not have the time to make every cake perfect.

-K8memphis Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 2:47pm
post #15 of 31

What is expected is speed. The quality of the work which is so important to home decorator's and custom shops is not the deciding factor. It's a different world where quantity is king.

See, you have the wrong idea already. You are afraid they will judge your work mediocre. Your work is not mediocre, it's not about your ego. It's that your work is not their work and you are bing given a chance to try for something else in cake deco. Your skills will improve with what you will learn.

It's in the trenches, down & dirty, fast & furious. Pays good and you get good benefits too.

lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 6:51pm
post #16 of 31

It is not about my ego, I know my skills. I am just thinking that they might not want me!

lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 7:01pm
post #17 of 31

It is not about my ego, I know my skills. I am just thinking that they might not want me!

tenleysmommy Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 7:19pm
post #18 of 31

I went in for an interviex at publix 2 weeks ago friday,I had to decorate a cake and since I was not used to their icing it looked like crap!Seriously,I was so embarassed.I would not have hired me,but apparently they thought differently and I start next week.Give it a try,the worst that happens is you don't get the job.

qt601 Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 7:34pm
post #19 of 31

I just turned down a cake decorator job at a large grocery store chain. First of all they were not competive about the pay rate. They wanted me to work overnight for $8.50 an hour. I could not belive it. At first I considered doing it for the experience, but when they gave me a tour of the bakery and I looked at some of the designs, I felt like I was over qualified for the position. They did basic cakes with air brush and borders and toy cartoon figures. Some of the cakes they had in the case for customers to buy were plain, with no creativity. That's not my style! When I showed one of the department managers some of my pictures, she quickly replied this is not the job for me. I realized I could make more money selling my own cakes, she even asked for my buisness card because she wants me to make her a cake for her birthday party. I also didn't want to burn myself out at the grocery store decorating cakes and becoming too tired to bake cakes for my own buisness. I think it will be good experience if that's what you are looking for, but go to the interview and see what they have to offer. Some grocery stores don't care what experience you have as long as you can do basic decorating and can ice a cake they will hire you. So, it all depends what you are looking for.

sadsmile Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 7:38pm
post #20 of 31

OK I just got lost in your pictures for half an hour!..LOL Looks like you have done enough BC to pass whatever test they might do if you just relax and follow the model they want done. You could brows through before hand as a shopper and watch the others decorate from a distance to see what you are up for and what tricks they use and what tools they have to use. At the stores in my area we can just stand at the counter looking at the cookies and spy on the I wouldn't like an audience but they always look up from time to time and smile and get right back to work.. I have looked a little closer to see if I can spy any shackles on their ankles tapedshut.gif

lflowermoon Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 8:11pm
post #21 of 31

Thank you all for your support!
tenleysmommy , can you tell me what exactly did you have to do at the interview and how did you have to ice the cake?

tenleysmommy Posted 27 Aug 2008 , 8:36pm
post #22 of 31

I had an interview with the store manager one day and the bakery manager the next,they gave me a 8 in cake and showed me were the bags and tips were they were already filled.I iced it with a straight end spatula and then smoothed it with a plastic scraper.Next I did a few roses,which melted all together,and a shell border and I wish I would have written on it but by that point there was no hope icon_biggrin.gif

barbaranoel Posted 28 Aug 2008 , 12:36am
post #23 of 31

I am dept mgr of a Freshfare Kroger. We do the sheetcakes with kits, airbrushing and plain ol' borders but we also do:

Fondant cakes
Fruit tortes
Speciality layered cakes

In fact, I tell all my associates to get bare min. instructions on cakes and let our decorators make the decisions on how to decorate (they get size, flavor, colors and writing - after that they tell the customer that the more freedom they give our decorators, the better their cakes will be)

We have gotten our business to where there are very few kit orders or pictures and alot of "freeform" cakes

I have a Speciality Pastry Case where we make all the items in it. Ok, everything but the cheesecake, those actually come from Cheesecake Factory.....

littlecake Posted 29 Aug 2008 , 5:24pm
post #24 of 31

one bit of advice, don't let them know everything you can do...they will work you to death.

my best friend and i worked at albertsons for a couple of years...we could draw and do other stuff..and they took orders for EVERYTHING...

toliet with poo in it....a dog getting an operation...carved stuff...they didn't care, which if fine if you don't have dozens of other orders, and a time limit.

i have had nice bosses at other in store bakeries too.....

you are way over qualified, but it will be a good experiance.....i worked at 3 different ones.

good luck.

lflowermoon Posted 29 Aug 2008 , 5:31pm
post #25 of 31

Thanks again! I am still undecided....and maybe it is already late ( I should have called the manager this week).

all4cake Posted 29 Aug 2008 , 5:57pm
post #26 of 31

I would say if you were going to do it, now would be a better time to than March or April. The Easter, Mother's Day, GRADUATION run is a dooooozy!

At the one I worked, we were required to base ice (the rounds had to be filled) and decorate 10-12 cakes an hour. It took me a couple of months to get my speed up and find what worked for me. Once you get familiar with your supplies and icings...tell the others to stand back and let you do your thang.

We also had to do the dessert cakes...ger choc, coconut, lemon....and the strawberries for the cheesecakes and them frickin' little bistro cakes...wretched little things.

I interviewed with another grocery store(I wanted something closer than 40 miles away). The manager told me that even though I would be classified as a decorator and that that would be my main responsibilities, I would also have to help out in the deli and the surrounding fresh departments. I didn't have the innards for the rest of it and politely declined the position.

My reasoning(and it helped me through many issues at the other bakery with customers and with the "within the box"policy maintained by the chain bakery was simply....

Their time, their cakes, their way. My time, my cakes, my way.
I chanted it repeatedly to myself.

tattooedlucy Posted 31 Aug 2008 , 6:14pm
post #27 of 31

The best thing that you will learn is speed.
I work for Publix, and have for a few years. I am the only decorator at my store, and I have 4 cases that I have to keep full. I'm not at a high volume store, but I still can have up to 30 orders on a Saturday during Grad or mothers day.. not to mention a wedding cake or 3.
My customers have been trained to expect more.. I have a huge following that just come in, give me an idea, and let me run with it. It work so much better like that. If you can establish that then you are golden.
On the other decorators being nasty.. yes. They will be. They will get mad that you can do things they can't.. they will try to sabotage you. Learn from it. Use it as an exercise in conflict management. You don't have to take their garbage on.
timewise.. I am training a new girl at the moment. I expect her to ice a cake from freezer to borders in 10 min. When she gets better, she will have 3 min. (not including toys, or roses) Roses she has about a minute each right now, but that will go down to about 15 seconds in a little while.
I often have to do wedding cakes in 2 hours or less.. (always really) and the detailed ones.. tops 3 hours.
I do a lot of fondant at my store.. but that's just me.

It is worth it to develop some new skills. It's fun, fast paced, and can be entertaining.
Can't hurt to try.

kmoores Posted 1 Sep 2008 , 1:55pm
post #28 of 31

I worked in a grocery store bakery for a year. I trained all the other girls to decorate cakes and I only did them when the other decorators were off. From my experience, doing it as a job and doing it at home made me HATE doing it at home where I made the most profit. I wore out pretty fast. On the up side it made me faster at decorating cakes and honed some of my skills.

Frankly tho, I would never do it again. But that's MHO.

mjarvis78 Posted 1 Sep 2008 , 7:00pm
post #29 of 31


I work at Publix too, but I am no where near as fast as you. I have always read that Publix guidlines are 4 cakes per hour. I can do a little more than that, but know where near you.


Jocmom Posted 3 Sep 2008 , 11:10am
post #30 of 31
Originally Posted by barbaranoel

I am dept mgr of a Freshfare Kroger. We do the sheetcakes with kits, airbrushing and plain ol' borders but we also do:

Fondant cakes
Fruit tortes
Speciality layered cakes

In fact, I tell all my associates to get bare min. instructions on cakes and let our decorators make the decisions on how to decorate (they get size, flavor, colors and writing - after that they tell the customer that the more freedom they give our decorators, the better their cakes will be)

We have gotten our business to where there are very few kit orders or pictures and alot of "freeform" cakes

I have a Speciality Pastry Case where we make all the items in it. Ok, everything but the cheesecake, those actually come from Cheesecake Factory.....

Holy cow . . that looks nothing like the Kroger store in my neighborhood! They're still cranking out the "cookie cutter" cakes. I actually sent a couple people there that were whining about how much I wanted to charge them for a sheet cake. They came back to me because they wanted their cakes to be more personalized.

The difference must be the "Freshfare" - that display case has me craving some sweets. Very tempting! thumbs_up.gif

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