A second week of special Saturday Spotlights! And this one couldn't be more special, as it's our big 2017 Cookiers' Choice Awards winner reveal! (Okay, so it's Sunday now, but who's keeping track?! )
If you're not familiar with these awards, they're our annual way of honoring the best and the brightest in the cookie world, and thanking them for how they've enriched our lives during the previous year through their cookie art, products, tutorials, and other contributions. More about the program, our awards categories, and how finalist selections were made can be found here.
As you may or may not know, last week we announced our finalists in two categories, Cookie Artist and Cookier of the Year . . .
Since that announcement, our judges have been laboring over their final selections. They have carefully reviewed and re-reviewed (and re-reviewed) the finalists' 2017 accomplishments against our established judging criteria for each category. They have also pored over the bios, personal statements, and universally impressive cookie portfolios (in the case of the Cookie Artist category) submitted by each finalist. I certainly don't envy the judges for the position I put them in - each and every finalist is so exceptionally qualified that the judging was exceedingly difficult. As one judge put it, "It is hard to judge exceptional cookiers like the ones nominated this year. It feels unfair to not choose all of them!" Indeed.
That all being said, an immense thank you to our judges, pictured below, for being so thoughtful and careful throughout their deliberations, and for taking the time to give this process the emphasis it deserves.
And, of course, a HUGE congrats to all of the finalists. Finalists, you have added so much joy, inspiration, and meaning to countless cookiers' lives throughout this past year. I know I speak for many in saying I am so very grateful for what each of you brings to the cookie world.
But, as in any competition, we had to select a single winner in each category, and so on we go toward the big winner reveal . . . but, first, just a quick reminder that each winner will receive a $500 cash prize from Cookie Connection, as well as a commemorative, custom-engraved crystal trophy and a Cookier Close-up feature here on the site. As way of introduction to each winner, I'll also be sharing some representative comments from the judges about why they felt this person or business was especially deserving of the award. And, without further ado, please join me in celebrating our 2017 Cookiers' Choice Awards winners!
Cookiers of the Year
Ginny and Doug Levack (aka Creative Cookier): "Clearly, the Levacks have a passion for cookies AND the people who make them. From their niche stenciling products to their Cookie Cruises to their Cookie Rehab weekends, the Levacks have figured out what cookiers of all levels of experience need and want, and deliver. I love that the Levacks don’t just see cookie artists as "customers," but as friends and members of a community. This spirit infuses everything they do, and is, no doubt, the secret to their incredible success in 2017."
"The Levacks aren't just great innovators and product designers . . . they're also great teachers, uniters of the cookie community, and role models for all to follow. They have an unrelenting work ethic and an unwavering moral compass, and their first priority is always doing their very best for the cookiers they serve."
Cookie Artist of the Year
Sonja Galmad (aka Sonja Galmad’s Süsse Dekorationen, aka swissophie on this site): "Sonja’s artistry is unrivaled . . . I have never seen cookies that look like hers - they are immediately recognizable and, yet, I also don’t see many cookiers [who] seek to emulate her style because it is so technically difficult. Sonja has mastered so many techniques. Her isomalt work, the intricacy of her piping, the consistency in repeated motifs, the storytelling and characterization, the dimensional construction, the depth in her painting, the innovation of her knitting work - all amount to a stunning and impressive portfolio."
"The depth and breadth of Sonja’s cookie portfolio is staggering. She deftly utilizes so many diverse techniques in her work, producing truly unique works of edible art. Sonja’s use of isomalt has not only taken her own decorating to another level, but has also inspired countless other cookie artists to try the medium as well. Whether it is in her use of isomalt, 3-D cookie creations, or intricately piped royal icing transfers, Sonja is constantly pushing the envelope, and sharing her skills and knowledge with so many others."
And so we conclude our 2017 Cookiers' Choice Awards season. Again, hats off to all of the finalists, and special congrats to the winners! We've got a little under a year 'til our next awards program, so, everyone, get cookie-ing! Who knows, you may just end up here next year!
P.S. ATTENTION, WINNERS: I'll be reaching out personally in the next 24 to 48 hours to say congrats, send your winner's badges, and gather some necessary details to get your prizes to you. Stay tuned!