MANILA, Philippines - A bird?s nest cake in gum paste and fruitcake by top Manila-based cake artists Penk Ching and Shen Chen of Pastry Bin made its global debut last Aug. 7 at the pre-opening ceremony cocktails organized by Coca Cola China for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
The dramatic single-layered cake was the centerpiece at an exclusive event organized by the beverage behemoth.
Approximately 500 people, mostly company executives and their clients, attended the by-strict-invitation-only event.
Coke has been sponsoring the Olympic Games since 1928.
?We believed this was a good opportunity to showcase Asian talent,? says Jun Gonzales of this milestone moment.
Gonzales, also a Filipino, heads the hospitality department of Coca Cola China?s Olympic Project Group 2008. He was a top events organizer in Manila before his current position.
Preparations for this project began as early as last May, when a copy of ?Caked in Sugar,? the self-published coffee-table book of Penk and Shen, was presented to Coca Cola China management. ?They were very impressed with what they saw,? he recalls.
Initially, Penk toyed with the idea of creating a cake inspired by the five Olympic rings, Chinese dolls and the Beijing Olympics official logo. ?But then I was told the logo design was patented, and that I needed the approval of the Olympic committee before I could use it, so I thought of doing the nest instead,? she says.
By the end of June, Penk and Shen, her sister and business partner, had already baked the fruitcake to begin the aging process. She sculpted the cake to the shape of the historic stadium a month after, and stopped accepting cake orders on July 27 to concentrate on the project. Penk, Shen and friend Iris Militar flew to Beijing two days before the event to prepare and set up the cake. Their 11-piece baggage included four crates carrying the fruitcake, and two versions of the bird?s nest sugar design. ?Just in case,? says Penk.
The sisters were at the Shangri-La Beijing?s ballroom by early afternoon of Aug. 7 to assemble the 30? oval-shaped cake. The pre-party buzz was so impressive one guest was later overheard commenting that the event seemed to be built around the cake. David Brooks, vice president and general manager for the Coca Cola Olympic Group, also ordered the cake moved from its original location at the bar to the center of the ballroom. ?This turned out to be a better location because guests were given a better view of the cake,? says Penk. It was later sliced and enjoyed by guests for dessert.
On Aug. 8, a smaller version of the same cake was presented to Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after her morning meeting with Filipino and Chinese businessmen at the Asia Hotel also in Beijing.
That a Pinoy-made cake was showcased during the Olympics, the global stage for the world?s best, definitely made all the long days and sleepless nights worthwhile to the Pastry Bin team. ?Even though I am not an athlete, I am just honored I can still represent the country in a different way,? says Penk.