Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary Birthday Cake Made By Vancouver Community College Pastry Chefs

One of the things I love about my Woodwardsmile blog is that I get invited to neat events.  A mega-birthday cake for Vancouver’s 125th birthday is being made by pastry students at the downtown Vancouver Community College campus. Media and bloggers were invited for a behind the scenes look at the cake making process.

Pastry students holding models of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Harbour Centre and the Gastown steam clock.  There will be three cakes in total, each measuring 36″ by 80″.

Two cakes will have giant logos on the surface. One cake will have a 3D map of the city which includes all the miniaturized iconic landmarks in Vancouver. The students proposed a list of landmarks which was then approved by the city. At first the city did not want BC Place Stadium, probably because the new roof will look different, but in the end they changed their mind.

Somebody wanted to move library square for photo purposes but the request was declined. The library model was too fragile to be touched, but not the Woodward’s building! It was a sturdy little block which I moved easily and without hesitation.

Pastry chefs forming cherry blossom trees to mark spring.

Pastry instructor and student working together to lay down a sheet of fondant.

This is one logo that will be on one of the cakes. Coloured fondant will be cut into those shapes and then laid on top of the cake.

The pastry students at VCC are very happy people. Here is Tess kneading fondant which, as she explained, can be thought of as a roll-able icing.

In a corner, Ben was making yellow fondant flowers to decorate his wedding cake. Those two layers are styrofoam blocks wrapped with fondant.


Zoe: What made you want to be a pastry chef?

Ben: I saw someone on TV and I thought, I could do this.

Zoe: What kind of show was it? Was it a cooking show or a feature on VCC?

Ben: It was a Chinese drama.

Zoe: Do you remember the name of the drama?

Ben: No, it was just something my parents were watching but when I saw the guy in the show, I thought to myself I could do that!


The moral of this conversation in the corner:  inspiration can come from unexpected sources. It’s not easy to find a career path that one loves.  A hearty congratulations to Ben!

Here is Santiago chopping a flat brick of white chocolate into slivers.

I’m preparing a white chocolate mousse with strawberry jelly and a hazel net cookie layer.

Faye said that the VCC pastry school makes cakes for all sorts of occasions including corporate galas, charity events, birthdays, weddings and so on. They make custom themed cakes to order too. A great example of their ability to accommodate size and decorating range is the Vancouver 125th birthday cake project.

These students are all nearing the end of their 10 month pastry program. From the camaraderie I observed among them, I suspect they will remember their time at VCC fondly.  Undoubtedly they will remember being the bakers of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary cake.


I walk by the pastry classroom windows often and have always wanted to see it from the inside. I was delighted yesterday by the oppourtunity to go in and to talk with the students. I look forward to learning more about the programs and events at VCC.


5 Responses to Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary Birthday Cake Made By Vancouver Community College Pastry Chefs

  1. steve April 6, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Nothing against the students but the designs looks unrefined, claylike … bulky / blocky is another word for it.

    It could be done better … go to Thomas Haas for Ganache Patisserie

  2. steve April 6, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    I forgot to add that I had cakes made by VCC and I found them much too sweet for my taste…

  3. Zoe April 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Hi Steve! Welcome to the blog. Well, I must agree that some of the models are blocky but I find that quality to be part of the charm! I like that the City of Vancouver commissioned cakes from VCC because it gives young bakers a chance to practice. And, it’s good to raise the profile of a community college rather than a fancy bakery because people might get inspired to take courses and start a new profession.

    As for the sweetness, that’s good to know!

    Thanks for your comments!

  4. Tina Winterlik April 13, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Hey I think they look Great! were not talking Cake Boss here! 😉
    I like that it’s being made by the students too. It’s super cool. When is the cake eating thing happening, or did we miss it. I think its so cool you got to go take the photos, Great job, great blog. Take care. Tina 🙂

  5. Zoe April 13, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Thanks for your message Tina! The cake has already been eaten! It was prepared for Vancouver’s 125th birthday bash on April 6th held at Jack Poole Plaza where the Olympic Cauldron is located. I was there in the evening when the cake was cut and the lineup was really long!

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