Upper Deck cupcake wars: sweet competition

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Johanna Brooks is owner-operator of the Cup and Cake tearoom on Broadway.

Nancy Kuney is an instructor in Fanshawe College’s Hospitality Program.

And given the fact Tim Clark has risen to the rank of Inspector for the Oxford OPP, one might assume he has made the odd donut’s acquaintance over the years.

“Why did I know this was coming?” laughed the third member of the Upper Deck Cupcake Contest celebrity judging team Saturday afternoon at ‘The Deck.’ “So this is a step up.”

The contest was arranged as a joint fund/profile raiser by Upper Deck/Youth For Christ/Youth Unlimited said steering committee member Ingrid Irwin. The youth centre offers ‘mostly free’ opportunities through lunch hours on school days and two after-school programs along with a Friday drop-in and games night.

In all, 22 different cupcake entries were received in three categories (Grades 6-8; 9-12; and adult) representing a wide gamut of traditional, seasonal (Easter) and creative genres, including an intriguing maple bacon combination.

“I like bacon… and I do love maple, I do, but…” responded Irwin a shade skeptically. “I shouldn’t be so narrow-minded,” she added with a smile, while admitting a personal preference for the undeniable artistic attraction of sugary swirls based on a sunflower.

“The ones that are flowers, I thought they were gorgeous.”

The judges worked their way up and down each side of a tasty tableful of entries, sharing samples of each en route.

“Some very creative cupcakes,” Brooks summed up, admitting to a personal preference for a strawberries and cream combination.

“It’s really tough to pick one,” said Kuney. “Well thought out and some excellent creativity there.”

Visually, Kuney had also been struck by the ‘flowers.’

“That was presentation on the table. Creatively – I like the maple bacon thought.

“There’s a lot of wonderful combinations and decorating – and love the enthusiasm.”

For the record, Clark doesn’t typically eat donuts.

“But I did enjoy the different flavours of the cupcakes,” he continued, noting a peanut-butter icing which had stood out on his taste buds. “And working with great guest judges,” he added tactfully.

Picking out just three winners was the biggest challenge of a ‘tough’ job for the trio, whose 22-cupcake sampling duties did have one major side effect.

“Sugar rush setting in,” laughed Kuney.

“Lots of energy now to go home and rake,” Clark added.

At the end of the judging day, Ashley Roschert emerged atop of the Grades 6-8 division for her chocolate/caramel combination; Elijah Marshall took top honours in the high school category for a peanut butter/chocolate creation; and Cathy Chatten’s flowers were officially recognized in the adult competition.

“I’m happy that it was fun,” Irwin concluded of an event, successful on a number of levels, including attracting people to a facility whose mandate is just that. “We want more people to come.”




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