We Called it the Buttercream Slide

I love what I do this work is a lot of fun and sometimes very funny! I remember it was a perfect beautiful day and we were producing a wedding that was well underway. The lovely ceremony was completed and all of the 350 guests were enjoying cocktails and entertainment in the garden room adjacent to the ballroom. There were probably 40 or 50 of us in the ballroom, some lighting candles other’s lining up plate-settings.

Last minute lighting adjustments and porters sweeping, I was walking from table to table to make sure everything was ready for the grand opening of the ballroom that would set the stage for the rest of the evening. Our production manager was calling out over the PA system five minutes until doors! We clear the room and I gaze over to make sure everything is just right, we had been working 3 shifts a day 72 hours straight! And now we were in the final stretch, it was appearing to be a perfect wedding!

As I began to walk over to the doors in preparation to open them, the big band queued, waiters around the perimeter of the room, my hand reached out to open the doors and I hear this heavy thud! I turn around and everything seems to be fine, but look to the right and the left. Then I see a waiter close to the dance floor with his hands on his cheeks and mouth open! The cake! The cake has fallen!! As I run towards him through the tables, I get to the dance floor on the far right side of the ballroom. The wedding cake has slid off the table and onto the floor in several pieces!!

Cake tables are typically a wheeled table with collapsible legs, it appears in this case a hotel porter did not fully lock one of the collapsible legs. The cake was a spectacular creation by world-renowned cake maker Sylvia Weinstock. Immediately I get her on my phone, Silvia! Silvia!! The cake has fallen please come immediately!!! Being the quintessential professional she is, she answers back I’m on my way! I tell the wait staff please go and tell the head chef we have an emergency, ask him to bring the pastry chef immediately. All this sounds like a solution in place, however we have 350 people next-door that are planning on coming in now!!

Often for ease of execution we have a main wedding cake and then a sheet cake in back which is used to serve all the guests quickly upon cutting of the cake. I remembered luckily that was the case, therefore all we really needed to do was to put the cake back together just enough, so that we could open the doors and there was a cake on display when they walked in. Shortly after, the waiters could take the cake out of the ballroom and then we could have Sylvia work her magic behind the scenes. I asked the wait staff to please help? Let’s put the cake back together. Given the high value of one of Sylvia’s cakes all the wait staff were afraid to handle it. Alright guys lock the front doors! No one gets in until this cake is in place once again.

Only minutes to spare, I begin to assemble piece by piece the shattered cake, the first couple main pieces go on smoothly and the pastry chef arrives with a big icing bag to repair this Humpty Dumpty of a cake. I have another large portion in my hand and am heading up to the cake table. I soon realized, oh no! Our dance floor is Lucite! The cake is made of butter cream and my tuxedo shoes are now greased from the buttercream as well as the floor underneath me.  I’m holding the key piece for the cake and my feet are moving around like a cartoon character on ice. Still in shock and fear the wait staff reluctantly help me not to pick up the cake, but to push me towards the table, reminiscent of a scene out or a silent movie comedy. One by one waiters are helping keep me upright, sliding back-and-forth over the dance floor from fallen cake pieces to table. The entire room including myself laughing hysterically! This unique frantic conga line cake assembly.

Although it seemed to take hours, in actuality it was about 10 minutes before we had the cake back up in place and reassembled with new buttercream. The Dance floor cleaned as well as my butter saturated shoes, all was right in the world. The ballroom doors open, the band playing, cake in place, the perfect beginning to build a reception memory of a lifetime. On serving of the first course, the wait staff brought the cake into the back room and Sylvia came with her professional doctor’s kit. She brought the cake back to its original glory with plenty of time to spare for the happy couples cutting of the cake.

Recently, I ran into someone that was there on production that day, with a smile on their face they said “Tom are you still doing the buttercream slide?” Instantly that hysterical memory came back to life like it was yesterday we never know what life is going to throw our way! But if the past is any indicator with a little humor and persistence no worries! It’s going to be a piece a cake!!

Tom Noel


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