This past Saturday the Southern Food and Beverage Museum co-hosted the second annual Big Top Cake Competition along with Delgado Community College and John E Koerner & Co., Inc. Fourteen beautiful cakes models were submitted for judging based on appearance and theme. Each contestant was required to submit a matching edible cake for tasting by a panel of professional judges and visitors alike. Of the fourteen cakes, ten contestants were professional chefs from the New Orleans and Gulf Coast area and five were student bakers, representing Delgado, Louisiana Culinary Institute, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. This year’s theme was “It’s Happy Hour Somewhere!”
On top of all the tasting cakes, guests were also able to sample some sweet treats from local bakeries showcasing their goods in the Bakery Carnival. These tasty morsels were judged separate from the cakes by guests and chefs.
While guests were considering their votes for the People’s Choice award and enjoying a sugary overload of cakes and treats, Chef Angela Wilson from Delgado and Cesar Barachino, Executive Pastry Chef at Pearl River Resort demonstrated some of their sweet baking techniques in our fully functional demo kitchen. Angela’s icing demo showed us that having a gorgeous dessert really can be a piece of cake. Cesar, keeping with the theme of the event, showcased desserts inspired by popular mixed drinks. Download Cesar's innovative recipes here.
After the winners were announced (see below!) and the cakes cleared out, attendees turned to a slightly more serious discussion of how to turn their sweet success into a full time job. Panelists Chaya Conrad: Owner and Chef of Bywater Bakery, Megan Forman: Co-owner and Executive Pastry Chef of Gracious Bakery, Dianne Sclafani: Culinary & Foodservice Business Development Consultant at the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, and Walter Wolf: Special Counsel at Mora Law Office, led by moderator Pepper Bowen, Director of the Culinaria Center dove into the brass tacks of starting a culinary business. The panelists answered questions in their area of expertise, offering recommendations (always set up the structure with plans for the business to get bigger so you're not backtracking) and insight (you have to both master and offer something new on classics like King Cake to really be taken seriously in NOLA). It was a great window into the business of the food world and hopefully helps a few of our culinary entrepreneurs!
And back to the competition... while everyone who submitted a cake is a winner in our eyes, there were a few who really did take the cake, so to speak.
Cake Decoration, Professional/Adult
- 1st Place: Becky Rodriguez
- 2nd Place: Melissa Daniel of Rouses Markets
- 3rd Place: Patti Kallinikos of IP Casino Resort and Spa
- People's Choice: Becky Rodriguez
Cake Decoration, Student
- 1st Place: Cindy Hutto of Delgado Community College
- 2nd Place: Miranda Boyd of Louisiana Culinary Institute
- 3rd Place: Bricen Lawson of Delgado Community College
- People's Choice: Cindy Hutto of Delgado Community College
Bakery Carnival Category
- 1st Place: Deelightful Cupcakes, LLC (Dwynesha Lavigne)
- 2nd Place: Louisiana Culinary Institute (Christina Nicosia)
- 3rd Place: Delgado Community College (Jon Petrie)
- People's Choice: Island View Casino (Sarah Serdynski)
Thanks to everyone who participated in the competition, tasted their share of the cakes, and shared business lessons on the panel. We can’t wait to see what you do next year! See more photos of the cakes on the Big Top Cake Facebook page here.
Let us know who you think should have won in the comments below!