Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mass Action: 137 cakes in 90 houses at the CWA - 28 August

So I haven't really been to that much performance art but when I heard about Brown Council attempting to make all 137 cakes from the CWA cook book 'Jam Drops and Marble Cake' released this year I started planning my visit.  It should come as no surprise to regular readers to learn that this book is already in the Big Lamington collection!  Hailing from regional NSW I am a big supporter of the CWA of NSW and have made a few things out of their older recipe books, and with some success too.  This performance is being held in the CWA auditorium at Potts Point until this Saturday (1 Sept) but we were able to swing by just after kick off to see them in action.

The one thing you usually get in performance art is a set of ground rules for how the performance will run.  Brown Council have this posted in the auditorium (and it looks really professional with the logo they designed for this gig), they are:
During the 90 hours the members of Brown Council must adhere to the following rules:
1. There must be continuous baking for the entire 90 hours, starting at 12pm on the 28th of August and concluding at 6am on the 1st of September 2012.
2. At least two members must be cooking at all times and all four members must be cooking during the designated opening hours.
3. Members must not leave the CWA headquarters at any time during the 90 hours.
4. Members must attempt to bake all cakes in accordance with CWA judging standards, but if a cake fails (burns, sinks etc) the member may not attempt to bake it again.
5. Once the cake is cooked members must label the cake, photograph it and then put it on display in the auditorium. All cakes must be photographed and the images uploaded onto the website."

It was a bit of a packed house this morning, with plenty of CWA members in town for a big forum or somesuch so they came by and had a sniff around.  According to the Brown Council twitter feed one CWA member was heard to comment "they might be artists, but they're not cooks". Snap. We also had channel 7 in the house filming a segment for the Sunrise programme on Friday morning. So what was actually happening? Well, there was a bit of cooking going on. Lots of prep work, cutting fruit, measuring etc. The BC ladies have sensibly decided to do a lot of fruit cakes and puddings early in the piece as they will last better until the judging on Saturday. There are only two ovens between the four cooks, one in the kitchen and one out back, so the operations planner in me reckons they might be a bottleneck in the system somewhere. We were able to actually sample some of the cooking. First up were some rock cakes (photo below).  Brown Council had put away their best six for judging which meant the spares were out for morning tea. Not bad, although a CWA lady confided to me that the bottom was a little burnt. That might seem harsh (as BC were pretty happy with them) but competitive cooking as practiced by the CWA is completely different to baking something for arvo tea. It needs to be perfect.

Points on hold until the judging on Saturday. I will be there.  But so far so good.  I was really impressed by the ambition of the project and how in the spirit everyone was with their matching aprons. Gee I just hope they got some ribbons made for the judging! I would highly recommend a trip down to CWA HQ for this, but if you can't make it and are tech savvy enough to find your way to their interwebs site you can even watch a live feed. Nicely done.

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