First Expo

Business By Chefnme Updated 31 Mar 2015 , 6:34pm by BakerBlackCat

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Chefnme Posted 30 Mar 2015 , 8:11pm
post #1 of 2


I'm thinking about doing my first Expo, but the logistics of it all is so overwhelming. 

I'm a one person shop and do everything out of my home. I operate under AZ cottage laws where everything must be prepared in a home kitchen and not a commerical kitchen, which I know I would probably need if I take on this task. 

The organizer is expecting over 1200 to attend so that has pushed my anxiety over the edge. 

I think it would be a great opportunity for exposure but I also think it might be too large of an event for me to start off with. 

I would love any advice that anyone can give,  especially if you're an one person shop who has done an Expo. 

As of right now,   my game plan is to offer samples of one flavor of cake or possibly do a couple of flavors so people can have an option.  Plus have a few display/dummy cakes for visuals and a small pamphlet to hand out for info. 

Again, thanks for any advice you have. I need to make a decision kind of quick but don't want to go in blind. 

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BakerBlackCat Posted 31 Mar 2015 , 6:34pm
post #2 of 2

I haven't done anything this big myself, and I'll happily admit that the thought of doing something on this scale would have me heading for a meltdown (the storage! the supplies! OMG where do I put that much butter??), but...I did work on something similar when I worked for a little local bakery.  And by little, I mean that we could stuff 3 people into the kitchen, but cramming 4 people would have required Time Lord technology and a shoe-horn!

That little bakery participated in a big wedding faire that went Friday (afternoon/evening), Saturday (all day), and Sunday (all day), with the bulk of the attendees expected on Friday & Saturday. And this was on top of our regular retail & wholesale production!

We did one kind of cookie (the store's specialty), and cut the small cookies into fourths for samples, and had bags of 1 dozen small and half a dozen large to sell.  We prepped the batter ahead of time, and spent Tuesday & Wednesday scooping cookies and storing them in the cooler; then late Thursday and early morning Friday (my baking buddy & I weren't attending - we called ourselves the Bakery Slaves for that week, lol!) we started baking, packing, and scooping some more.  I think we blasted through close to 1500 cookies by the time we finished baking/packing on Saturday, and the few bags that were left over at the end of the event, the owner distributed them to the other vendors.

Based on this, my advice would be to offer samples and sales of one thing, and one thing only.  Seriously, there's a lot of planning here, and the easier you can make it on you, the happier you will be!  Keep the samples small - this isn't a free dessert bar, and never forget that you're in business to make money.

Now that I have my own CFO, I do smaller events, and I make mini-cupcakes. Bake a bunch and freeze them, and spend the rest of the time making my packaging up (boxes, labels, etc.), and then the night before I frost & decorate, then pack 'em up.  It's amazing how fast you can go when you find your rhythm!  The key is planning: get the supplies laid in; mise everything out ahead of time, so when the time comes, you're just dumping ingredients into the mixers; scale & bake; then wrap, cool, and eventually decorate.  (I have no pictures of this, sorry.  I get going in the kitchen, and forget about taking photos.  Working on getting better about that.)

And FWIW, I have worked in gigantic-scale production, where I spent an entire shift making just one dessert (2500 creme brulees, and hoo-boy does your arm get tired holding that sauce gun out. I'd use the depositor, but I hated to clean it...), and this is pretty much how we approached it: make the mix, store in cambro, rack up all the ramekins, then spend some time filling the ramekins, then baking. 

Good luck, and let us know what you decided to do!

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