Q: If someone wanted to impress you in one of these high-tech cake competitions, what would they do?
A: I think like a really clever use of mechanics. I think that’s what really gets us, is when – you know, there has to be a certain transformation. Say the transformation is melting. If they really come up with a clever way to make something melt but in a controlled way that allows the cake to still be and really embodies the spirit of the transformation that we ask for, that’s what does it. You know, when it’s really clever and it’s clean.
Q: Did any of these professional bakers tell you how much money they put into their cakes, with all their machinery and technology?
A: Wow, that’s a great question. I never asked. … Some of the things they’re using – do you know what a linear actuator is? A linear actuator is like a tube with a smaller solid tube inside of it and it has a really high torque motor. So it’s like a very slow-moving piston, like a linear actuator would be like some of those hydraulic presses. That’s a linear actuator. So people are using actuators, they’re using servos, they’re using a lot of flash paper like we see with magicians and stuff. They’re using a lot of standard hydraulics, a lot of motors and a lot of high torques. Some of them are not high torques. Sometimes they’re going for speed and some of these cakes like tear themselves apart.
I forget but there was a performance art group based out of San Francisco that would build these massive robots that used to tear themselves apart. I forget what they’re called. They would build these insane robots – huge – and they were terrifying and they would tear themselves to pieces and it kind of reminds me of the show.
Q: So these cakes were tearing themselves apart or falling apart?
A: Well, some of them were supposed to. It’s like sometimes the transformation involved tearing itself apart – it’s pretty incredible – and still be edible.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.