Who Came Out on Top at Big Top?

This past Saturday, June 23, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Delgado Community College, and John E Koerner & Co. Inc. co-hosted the third annual Big Top Cake Competition & Bakery Carnival. In honor of New Orleans 300th anniversary and SOFAB’s 10th anniversary, the theme for this year was “A Celebration of Time!” Cakes adorned with buttercream flowers, fondant fleur-de-lis’, and edible mardi gras beads lined the second floor of Dryades Public Market where the elaborately decorated cakes were on display like works of art in a museum.

Who were the artists behind these sugar covered masterpieces? This years competition highlighted the work of 9 professional bakers from the New Orleans and Gulf Coast area and 7 budding students from Delgado Community College’s school of baking and pastry arts. Each baker submitted a decorated tier cake as well as a small tasting cake for judges and event attendees to sample. Cakes were judged based on appearance, texture, taste, use of theme, technique, and overall appeal.

However, the Big Top Cake Competition was about more than just cake. It was also about pastry! Choux pastry to be more specific. This years bakery carnival featured the work of four different pastry chefs unique takes on traditional pate a choux. Guests and judges sampled a variety of choux pastry ranging from sweet to savory, crawfish to praline filled while they contemplated which fluffy, filled treat was their favorite.

While the day definitely wasn’t short on desserts, it also wasn’t short on fun, hands on learning opportunities for event attendees. For starters, Dee Levigne of Deelightful Cupcakes led a Cake Decorating for Kids! workshop in our demo kitchen. From basic piping skills to roses made of pink frosting, Dee taught a group of enthusiastic young people what it takes to make a cupcake that’s as pleasing to the eye as it is the stomach. While the children finished up cupcake decorating and moved on to eating their convection covered creations, SOFAB set up for the second scheduled event of the day: a panel on careers in the pastry world. The interactive panel featured Chef Angela Wilson of Delgado Community College, Chef Cesar Barachina, Chef Christina Nicosia of the Louisiana Culinary Institute, and Amy Deschaine of Koerner & Co. Inc. Lastly, Chef Cesar Barachina led an advanced pastry decorating demo where he taught everything from filling pate a choux to baking with egg cartons.

While Cesar was demonstrating the art of pastry making, judges were making their final decisions regarding winners and the people’s choice votes were being tallied up. Finally, it was time to the moment everyone had been waiting for: the moment the winning bakers were announced. Who took the cake as this years Big Top Cake Competition champion? Find out below!

Cake Decoration, Adult/Professional Category

1st Place: Shelby Bower of Shelby Elizabeth Cakes

2nd Place: Eliza Abeleda of TM Breads and Pastries

3rd Place: Monica Leiper of Simply Fabulous Desserts

People’s Choice: Eliza Abeleda of TM Breads and Pastries


Cake Decoration, Student Category

1st Place: Leonair Bradley of Delgado Community College

2nd Place: Rachel McCain of Delgado Community College

3rd Place: Brittany Raymond of Delgado Community College

People’s Choice: Leonair Bradley of Delgado Community College


Bakery Carnival

People’s Choice: Dee Lavigne of Deelightful Cupcakes


Congratulations to all of our winners and to all of our participants for producing such creative, jaw dropping cakes and thank you to everyone who made this event possible! Our taste buds are already excited for next year! For more pictures from the third annual Big Top Cake Competition visit our Facebook album here.