This posting is the first one from Woody who has been working with me for the past five years.Woody's Cake for Grand Master Choi 70th Birthday Surprise Party Real gold does not fear the fire and neither did Grand Master Choi when I presented him with his birthday cake topped with seventy lit candles that blazed like a bon-fire. With one short powerful breath he blew them out in a second.
I have been practicing T'ai-Chi for the past twelve years at the Twin Cities T'ai-Chi Chuan studio in St. Paul, Minnesota. T'ai-Chi is an internal-style martial art, which is practiced for health, meditation, and self defense. Along with T'ai-Chi, our two head instructors Sifus (Chinese for master) Ray and Paul also teach other martial art styles, including Liu Ho Pa Fa, a style that embodies three internal styles, which was learned from Grand Master Choi. Grand Master Choi is the legacy holder of the Liu Ho Pa Fa style, which he taught for many years in Chicago till he recently retired. His entire life has been devoted to the martial arts. In his twenties he won the 1971 Southeast Asian Hand-to-Hand Martial Arts tournament. About every other year, Grand Master Choi conducts workshop weekends at our studio. This past weekend, Grand Master Choi came to teach and give corrections for two styles, Hsing-Yi and Liu Ho Pa Fa, as well as lessons to Sifus Ray and Paul, which culminated with the birthday dinner for a small group of students. Since I have also assisted Rose with researching, writing, and testing of cakes for Rose's Heavenly Cakes, I have needed many tasters, thus a perfect union of my T'ai-Chi and cake baking has evolved with many cakes coming to the studio for tasting as well as for birthdays and special celebrations. Last week, I was asked to make a birthday cake for Grand Master Choi's upcoming dinner and surprise birthday party. Since Chinese are not big on sweets or heavy desserts, I decided to make a lighter cake for the occasion. From the Cake Bible I composed a cake made of two layers of the White Whisper Velvet Cake, filled and topped with Lemon Curd, the sides frosted with Stabilized Whipped Cream, and piped with Food Processor Whipped Cream. Thirty-five blue and thirty-five white candles were placed on top to make the Chinese Yin and Yang symbol. Sifus Ray and Paul escorted Grand Master Choi to the Mai Village Vietnamese restaurant and was greeted by a group of forty students, enthusiastically singing, "Happy Birthday", Grand Master Choi was led to a table to open presents. He was amazed and humbled as Chinese normally do not celebrate a birthday in this fashion. As he finished dinner, I walked through the dimly lit room with my cake glowing beacon of candles and set it on his table. "Make a wish," cheered Sifu Ray. Grand Master Choi's powerful breath extinguished all seventy candles, including sailing wax across the five foot wide table to splatter onto the cheering students seated across. The cake was then quickly sliced, plated, and eagerly enjoyed. I was told later that this was Grand Master Choi's first-ever birthday cake. The Lemon Curd proved to be "real gold" as the "fire" from the candles coated it with lava trails of candle wax, which amazingly peeled off leaving the curd untainted.