At the recent BEMA Winter Summit, Thierry Reunbrouck, regional merchant bakery operations of H.E.B. and one of the conference speakers, briefly mentioned that with the spate of food/baking/decorating TV shows, customers are more aware of trends than ever, and those trends change rapidly. Though it was not a main point in his presentation, it pinged something in my brain.
Almost every baker I visit mentions the influence of food shows at some point in the conversation. Some have better attitudes toward them than others, but they all agree: consumers are watching them. (At this point I should probably make a confession–I don’t have cable, so my exposure to these shows is limited.)
It used to be that a trend started on one of the coasts and gradually made its way to the center of the country– which could take years. With the popularity of food shows, viewers, no matter where they call home, are going to their local in-store or retail bakery and asking for the same thing, whether it was the decorated cake they saw in a decorating competition or a dessert they saw in a pastry chef battle or bread that was the basis of the best sandwich in the country.
So bakers are often addressing the same question from customers: can you make that? This might make bakers want to pull their hair out as these shows often do not address the costs or time involved in making these products, but many are becoming adept at how to handle these questions. Either yes, they can make the product, or no, they can’t, but here’s who can.
Luckily, bakers tend to be a friendly lot and are often willing to share their methods and techniques for addressing the continually changing product trends. For example, a baker in Maine probably doesn’t think twice about sharing his/her whoopie pie/macaron (insert any number of products here) formula with a fellow baker in Washington. Because whoopie pies/macarons could be the next cupcake, and consumers around the country are asking for them.
No matter how frustrating the continually changing trends can be, isn’t nice to know bakers are all in the same boat?