Letting Another Potential Baker Watch You Work?

Business By Alana7 Updated 31 Jul 2011 , 3:50am by Alana7

Alana7 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 12:25pm
post #1 of 46

I was recently approached by a friend who has another friend that is interested in watching a decorator at work. And of course she "couldn't think of anyone better to watch than..." icon_eek.gificon_confused.gif Now I know this is a freebie lesson in the making so I said I was not comfortable having even my kids in the kitchen when I work, so sorry, no can do. She insisted that this friend plans to open a bakery only in her state and won't be my competition - like that would be the only reason I would refuse. After repeated Nos, she asks what if her friend bought all the products and made the cake in my presence so I can guide her? At this I said it is a possibility, provided I don't have any orders that day.
Has anyone been asked this and how do you deal with something like this? I don't have a problem teaching someone - but I feel this is going to be a drag and I may regret it.

45 replies
tiggy2 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 12:41pm
post #2 of 46

I'd tell her if she wants lessons I charge $30/hr

jessicakes63 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:03pm
post #3 of 46

I was working on a cake last Saturday and suddenly my house was like Grand Central Station! First my Hubby brought his 2 sisters in to "see my work"...then a brother-in-law stopped by with a friend of his whom I've never met....they had to watch for a while (the friend said "Well I've never seen anybody dress a cake like that!" lol) then son-in-law came in....
the cake was due in 2 hours...I was so nervous I was shaking! LEAVE ME ALONE WHEN I'M WORKING ON CAKE! Lol.

artscallion Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:03pm
post #4 of 46

I hate people who can't take no for an answer. My Sister-in-Law is like that. she wants what she wants and just drones at it until she gets it. If she asks me over for dinner on a Saturday and I have to work a show from noon to 2:30pm and then again from 5pm to 8:30pm (I work at a college performing arts center) and I know I could go in between but don't really want to do all that rushing around just to eat her bad cooking. She'll say, "well you still have to eat, stop by in between. I'll say I have to do such and such in between and she'll counter with, well why can't you do that on Sunday? I'll tell her why not and she'll say, well how about if so-and-so does it for you and I pick you up and we all pitch in and blah blah blah. I just want to scream, "NO! I said NO! Why can't you just let it be at that, for gosh sake??! Why do you always have to talk people into what they don't want to do?? "

It's maddening, I tell ya. rant over.

BTW, I agree with tiggy. why should a stranger get free schooling from you? Myself, what I learned from my S-I-L is to just say, No. I don't want to. Don't give them excuses to weedle around. Just No, I don't want to do that. (which ironically, now that I think about it, is something my S-I-L has no problem doing when you ask her to do something.

Claire138 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:15pm
post #5 of 46

People like that drive me mad! Someone I know keeps harassing me that she wants to come round when I am making a cake to watch me do it, I told her that not even my husband or kids are allowed in the kitchen when I'm working but she doesn't get it. She goes on and on every time I see her and then had the nerve to write a note to me when I posted a photo of a cake I had done "Oh, you were supposed to call me so that I could watch, I wanted to watch please call me next time!". She even told me that she will sneak into my kitchen - I live in a complex so there's no chance of that but she really annoyed me. I don't even know her that well!

CindiM Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:21pm
post #6 of 46

If YOU want to do it, do it.
If YOU don't, then don't.
We teach others how to treat us. Do not let anyone bully you!

There are cake training classes all over the world. They can look at the internet for classes.

Dayti Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:35pm
post #7 of 46

You could pull the "the health dept doesn't allow non-employees in the bakery kitchen" card if she STILL doesn't take no for an answer.

Or, charge big $$ for your time per hour, assuming she brings all the materials with her...that may put her off.

myheartsdesire Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:47pm
post #8 of 46

Maybe it can be a great addition to your business? Doing classes for people (obviously well paying people).

Alana7 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:50pm
post #9 of 46
Originally Posted by tiggy2

I'd tell her if she wants lessons I charge $30/hr

thumbs_up.gif I might just do that icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Clair138, I have a neighbor like that - after 6 months of waiting for an invite, she doesn't ask me any more but hints that I don't want to share my "secrets".

Alana7 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 1:58pm
post #10 of 46
Originally Posted by myheartsdesire

Maybe it can be a great addition to your business? Doing classes for people (obviously well paying people).

I would love to do classes.......where I get paid. This is like doing a" friend of a friend a favor" for nothing. thumbsdown.gif

jason_kraft Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 2:03pm
post #11 of 46

We charge $60+/hour for private lessons, there is a lot of prep work involved beforehand so make sure you are adequately compensated for all your labor, not just the lesson time.

FullHouse Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 2:06pm
post #12 of 46

I've had people offer to "help", with the idea I'll get free "help" and they can learn something. My reply is "I can never plan exactly when I'm going to be working because it really depends on my little ones' schedules. Many times I wind up not having time to even start until 10pm, but I really just never know when I'll be able to get to it. Not something I can plan ahead." I also offer private lessons at their location for a fee, but for those who just want to watch/help, no can do. That usually puts an end to it. I'm still waiting for the one who offers to babysit and clean so I can work, I would take up that offer in a heartbeat.

bobwonderbuns Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 2:37pm
post #13 of 46

I shadowed a local baker for two weeks back when I first began. I had cake and cookie deco experience, but not bakery experience. I learned a lot from watching her but she didn't hire me for a baker's assistant like I was hoping she would. Since then I've had a few people (close friends/serious students) shadow my work but I've ended up discontinuing that only because I just cannot concentrate like I need to and I make too many mistakes. I do give private lessons as well. I guess it's whatever works for you. icon_biggrin.gif

dolfin Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 2:41pm
post #14 of 46

just tell the truth. teaching takes time and patience of which I have neither. I bake cakes when I can work it in to my schedule and usually under the gun as for watching, even my family stays away from me when I am creating. If I find someone that has the time and patience to work with you I will pass your number on to them and they will contact you. Recipies, helpful hints that I can manage but teach, sorry

BrendaST Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 2:49pm
post #15 of 46

So, I am not the only one who doesnt like other watching me when I work on a cake. Usually I try to work at night when everybody is fast asleep and no one come in the kitchen for a glass of water and starts questioning why you did that, who do you make this... etc. I feel I cannot concentrate on my work and all my inspiration goes away when Im asked questions or someone is just staring at my every move.

QTCakes1 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 3:02pm
post #16 of 46

No. That's all you have to say. Of course I may throw in a "Or if you insist I do give lesson for $60 an hour, but that would still be them just watching". I CAN NOT teach for crap. They would have to sit from a distance and watch, QUIETLY. That's why I would just give a simple, no, and I have.

cakedout Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 3:12pm
post #17 of 46

You need to do what you feel comfortable with. And let your 'NO' mean 'NO!'.

On the other hand, I personally am all for training the next generation and sharing my knowledge with others. I am thankful to all of those that shared their knowledge with me when I was just starting out! When I was younger, I probably would have treated it like a private class and charged as such.

These days, I know my time of being able to do cakes is coming to an end so I am more than happy to give my time to anyone willing to learn. And I accept tips. icon_wink.gif

bakencake Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 3:13pm
post #18 of 46

Funny, i thought i was the only one with stage fright. I had a neighbor, guy lives several blocks over and run into him a few times a year, write me and asked me if i would teach his daughter cake decorating because she just loves the shows icon_rolleyes.gif. of course i never think of anything to say at the moment. the good news was that it was over email and i had time to think about the response. i just emailed several blogs and told him to start with those. I like reading the way you guys just get to the point and say no. i need to learn that when face to face instead of freezing at the moment because i cant think of anything to say and just say ok icon_cry.gif

stormrider Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 3:19pm
post #19 of 46

I have a friend who calls her In-laws her Out-laws and there is a valid reason for that (in almost every family there are a few I'm certain)!! Family in general always takes advantage whenever they can. I just told my nephew his son's christening cake is his last freebie - I can't afford all the ingredients/time/planning anymore!

I can't work with anyone looking over my shoulder - too stressful, especially if the cake is for someone other than family (currently only doing cakes for relatives and friends). My family knows to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible. If they want to learn something we arrange a baking session specifically for that - no stress, no rush, nobody cares if it's not perfect.

Texas_Rose Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 3:40pm
post #20 of 46

It's all about what you're comfortable with.

Personally, I can work no matter who is watching me. And I invite all the neighbor kids over to decorate cookies for the different holidays. I also don't mind showing someone something if I'm good at it and they're trying to learn. I wouldn't want to be teaching them the basics though...let them watch youtube or take wilton classes, then if there's something they still need to know, come ask me.

I've also learned that not everybody who wants to learn something cake-related is somebody I want to spend time with or have in my home. The whole "caring and sharing" attitude only goes so far.

TexasSugar Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 3:58pm
post #21 of 46

When I first started doing cakes I hate people watching me. It made me nervous. I once said to my SIL, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but would you mind leaving the room?"

Now, since I'm a WMI, and have to do demos and teach, I've gotten over that, mostly.

But to the question at hand. If, and big IF, you do it, then make it a lesson type thing, and I would have her compensate you for your time. I would not have someone watch me while I was doing a cake order, because chances are that they will ask you questions, which depending on how you work, could through you off your game. Or they will want you to stop and show them how you are doing something.

I don't like the friend for pushing, after you said no many times. That to me says she didn't respect your original no, and figured if she asked enough times in different ways you would say yes. I have a stubborn streak, so her asking me over and over wouldn't have gotten the result she wanted, because after a couple of times it would have become a matter of principle for me.

I think it is great when people can share freely. But at the same time, if we spend money to learn a craft, then I also feel others should do that as well.

dolfin Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 4:23pm
post #22 of 46

I don't mind sharing things with people just don't like being watched. I have classes for several of the neighborhood kids where we start off from the begining. picking recipes, making a list, shopping for the things needed (I let them use my equipment since I have extras because my honey took the class with me and never uses his) we discuss safety and cleanliness, teach them to measure all before we start baking. I teach them how to make the icing and simple decorating. I show them all how to get on line for tutorials and they take it from there.

For grownups there are so many free tutorials on line that are really quite good and the best thing is they can watch them over and over till they get it right. Even if they don't have a home computer your local library usually allows access to computers and you can checkout videos,dvds and books on decorating and baking. There are alot of options out there if they are serious they will use them. Maybe one day I will get over my "don't watch me" phobia but till then so sorry.

Lili5768 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 4:29pm
post #23 of 46

I agree with everything that's been said. And not to be mean but anyone that is coming over to learn will not just stand there and watch, they will be asking you about every single thing. Do you have that kind of time?
Plus, is she really planning on opening a bakery without formal lessons of any kind?

As others have said, I would kindly but firmly tell her that in order for her friend to learn everything as it should be, I am/will be giving lessons at such and such a price, in my "free" off business time, and that I feel that would be best for her future business.

This reminds me of the time I took my baking course. The stipulation was that the entire cost had to be paid on the first class day or before, and there were no "payment plans" available.
On the first class day there was one woman insisting and arguing in a very hostile manner that no one had told her this and that she had only bought just so much for the first class and blah, blah, blah, (which I found strange because it was greatly emphasized when I registered). I remember that the owner/teacher was being very firm about this, and the woman did not appear in the class.
At the time, I felt that perhaps the owner could have been more lenient.

But as the class progressed I quickly realized why the owner/teacher had reacted in the way she did! The actual cakes were made on that day. All of the handouts and written recipes, including for frosting's, syrups etc., were given on that day, and a wealth of information was imparted. So the woman obviously knew this and just wanted all that info and would never come back, because perhaps she already knew the rest of the icing and frosting techniques etc.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that someone is always willing to get for free what we've had to pay and sacrifice to learn and achieve! No bueno! icon_smile.gif

rpaige Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 6:25pm
post #24 of 46

Just my thoughts:

As a beginner, I do feel for all of us who want to do things well and would love the helpful hints and guidance of the more experienced bakers; HOWEVER, I also know that I, personally, do not like to be disturbed in the kitchen. If the cake is for my family, then the kids can help - otherwise, stay out of the kitchen. I have made more mistakes when a "drop by" wants to sit and visit and observe. No one seems to understand a "deadline" when it is something "silly" like a cake. Friends want to give me "free" help so their cake will be "less work" for me. The Friends turn out to be more work and the cake turns into even MORE work.

I would be honest and say that is just not something you are comfortable with because each customer's cake deserves your full attention.

I want to learn but I am willing to pay for the education. If I can't afford it then no education.

TexasSugar Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 6:47pm
post #25 of 46

I've been sitting here thinking about this situation. Because I have to say, I am totally thankful to websites like this and people that share their information freely. At the same time, I also feel that everyone's time and talent is valuable.

If someone has spent a lot of money on classes, books, tools and so forth, I can understand not wanting to impart with everything they have learned for free, because after all for them it came with a price. Even if that price is hours of practice they invested in to learning everything they can.

I think I'd have to adopt the same idea as I have for my cakes. If you ask me to teach you something, or as to watch me do a cake so you can pick up all my tricks and such, then you should pay something for it.

If I offer to show someone something, then I wouldn't ask for anything in return.

Cakeuhlicious Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 6:51pm
post #26 of 46

My family doesn't just hover constantly when I'm baking/decorating...they usually choose those moments to want to do something in my space...do the dishes, clean the fridge, make a snack etc. It drives me absolutely bananas. They can be on the opposite end of the house all day and the second I step toe into the kitchen...they follow like a shadow. That bothers me enough and it's my own family. I wouldn't let a stranger do it ever. LOL

BlueMoon73 Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 7:13pm
post #27 of 46

Great post! I think everyone has been asked this question! I recently made a Tardis cake for a friend and he wanted to watch the process... I told him I would document with pictures! I have also spent a lot of time and money on different classes in my area and not to mention time watching videos and reading tutorials and searching for different techniques online etc...

I have been asked a lot of advise for simple things from co-workers and friends who are not bakers but want to make a great cake for their family. Gladly give the advise... but if they want to learn from you, that's totally different! Charge them!!

I am teaching my Mom and it is frustrating at times! Luckily she is artistic and gets it totally!! YAY

sabre Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 7:26pm
post #28 of 46

Your "friend's" refusal to take NO for an answer makes me wonder if she has a personality disorder, because she appears to have no boundaries. Just for that reason alone, I would continue to repeat "NO", followed by "This conversation is over!"

cutiger Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 7:31pm
post #29 of 46

I understand her wanting to watch someone work. I learn best the same way. If I were you, I would charge something because if she is like me, she will have tons of questions!

tbkimber Posted 29 Jul 2011 , 8:12pm
post #30 of 46

As I read this post I would swear that artscallion's sister in law is the twin of mine and my husband must be related to cakeuhlicious's family. I hated to have people watch me work until I went to culinary school and boy did I get over that quick. However, I can't handle the questions because it takes away my concentration. The worst thing is "I didn't know it would take this long, are you almost done?"

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