Our Tour of Wilton and My Autumn Leaves Pie Crust

Pie-Crust.jpgThis pie crust is brought to you by Nancy Siler and Gretchen Homan, who are helping me perfect my autumn leaves. They’re the go-to home economists for baking pretty things – they work at Wilton.

It was Day 2 of Larry’s and my Historic Route 66 road trip (posts upcoming on this). Day 1 was our flight to Chicago, renting a car and eventually driving 2675 miles to Santa Monica in 11 days, 8 states. Before we hit the Mother Road, I wanted to see Wilton, just outside of Chicago. NOTE: there are no public tours. This was an insider job, thanks to the fact that Nancy and Gretchen attended Camp Blogaway as sponsors.

WiltonThe reason I’m even writing about a tour you cannot take is that their products are things you should have. Go to any Bed, Bath and Beyond. Or baking department of stores. Seriously… something for everyone. Even if you are a fledgling baker, SOMETHING for everyone. Pans, cutters, tubes, everything in literally any shape you can dream up (Halloween bones sprinkles now available).  Want to make your own pop-tarts? There is a Wilton gizmo for that.

I struggle to articulate our Wilton visit in few words, it was overwhelming to this little Home Economist. But in a nutshell, Larry and I hoofed a quick pace lead by Nancy (Gretchen was working!). Starting with the waiting room, seasonally decorated. Entrance hallway, a historical museum of Wilton. Photography studios for everything marketing including their hefty annual “yearbook” of ideas and products. Rooms and rooms of ideation folks, engineers, packaging, marketing.  It was mind-blowing, the colors and shapes and pictures of… CAKES, COOKIES, CUPCAKES.

And then we hit my dream — Creative Services. There, at architectural drafting tables, were about a dozen smiling artists hand-making phony baked goods for photos, or a TV show, or testing an idea, or noodling out an inspiration (like ladies’ shoe design cookies). Every season of the year in one room. Every celebration. Every holiday. Every… IDEA. One artist, as I stood next to her desk listening to Nancy, tried to slowly move something without catching my eye… a teensy little fake fondant poop off the head of a teensy little fake fondant kid. Poop! My kinda people, I WANT TO WORK HERE.

Nancy, collette, studentThen a quick visit to The Wilton School of Cake Decorating & Confectionery Art– and there is only one of those and it’s down the street with people traveling from around the world to attend.  Today’s group included students from Hong Kong.  For the rest of us, there are Wilton Method Decorating classes held around the country and the world in local craft and hobby stores (i.e. Michael’s and Joanns) as well as a few grocery chains too – Nancy likes to refer to these as the “decorating classes in the ‘hood”.  Wilton Method Decorating Classes

crustWhich now leads me to my pie crust for Thanksgiving. I make delicious pie, but I wanted a PRETTIER pie this season. I’m no artist, so I fake it.  And thus I discovered the Wilton Mini Harvest Cookie Cutter Set.  Six perfect little fall shapes – apple, maple leaf, acorn, pumpkin, oak leaf, elm leaf. Heck, I can cut salami and cheese with these things, too. Jicama. Carrots. Cucumbers. And of course, cookies.

Wilton is every-baker’s resource. Their pro decorating schools are always packed. Their products are endless… and now, thanks to some open minded management, a lot more cutting edge and trendy (skulls and knives and skeletons are doable with their items).

Food pros, start your relationship with Wilton via Nancy Siler nsiler@wilton.com and Gretchen Homan ghoman@wilton.com

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