Well, well, the nominations for the 2014 Cookiers' Choice Awards are all in, and they have finally been tallied! But before I spill the beans, thank you to those who cast votes in celebration of the accomplishments of their fellow cookiers. It's important to pause from time to time to take stock of the advancements within this profession and to recognize those who have made those advancements most possible.
And, for us here on Cookie Connection, NOW is that time! Why, after all, it's knowing that our work is appreciated that keeps most of us creating - and we want to make sure that this community's creativity continues to blossom in 2015!
So, without further ado, let me introduce the finalists. By way of introduction, I'll be sharing some of the reasons why our members selected these candidates, as well as each candidate's personal favorite tutorial or photo from 2014 - i.e., the piece of work that each felt best represents herself. For up-close-and-personal views of each candidate, I'll also be providing links to their Cookier Close-up interviews on this site and interviewing those we've missed over the upcoming weeks. But in the meantime, let's give the finalists a huge round of applause! It's a major accomplishment to have earned the recognition of so many talented peers and to have made it this far!
** Cookier of the Year Finalists **
As a reminder, the Cookier of the Year Award will be given to the cookier whose collective portfolio of work posted to Cookie Connection most impressed the Cookie Connection community and awards judging panel. Cookie portfolios will be evaluated on technical difficulty, number of techniques used, mastery of techniques, originality, and overall design appeal/artistry.
And here's why the Cookie Connection community thought these three candidates fit the bill . . .
Sandra "Sandie" Beltran of You Can Call Me Sweetie
Sandie's villain set, her favorite collection from 2014.
"Sandie's work is absolutely phenomenal. Each and every set she produces is unique and in a class of its own. She has taken cookie decorating to a new level and is a complete inspiration to the cookie world."
"Every collection of cookies she creates is incredible."
See Sandie's complete portfolio here, and stay tuned for her Cookier Close-up coming in February.
Evelin Milanesi of Evelindecora
Evelin's favorite cookie creation from 2014, a Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge entry.
"From painting to piping, all of Evelin's cookies are pure perfection."
"Her work is exquisite and original. She is an artist. That's all . . . and I've seen her cookies live and there are no words to describe the perfection!"
Marta Torres of The Cookie Lab
Marta's Girl in the Snow, her favorite cookie from 2014.
"[Her] work is always precise, detailed, requiring a high level of skill, and beautiful."
"Each piece of artwork Marta creates is more breathtaking than the next!"
See Marta's complete portfolio here, and be on the look-out for her Close-up coming later this month.
** Cookie Educator of the Year Finalists **
The Cookie Educator of the Year Award will be given to the cookie artist, blogger, instructor, or other entity who is deemed by the Cookie Connection community and awards judging panel to have contributed most to advancing cookie decorating instruction in 2014.
And here's why this community felt these cookiers were so deserving, along with links to their Close-ups and favorite tutorials . . .
Elizabeth Adams of Arty McGoo
"Along with her stupendous talent, she has created stellar videos that delight the viewer while [teaching] at the same time."
"She is an awesome teacher. [Her] techniques are great."
Click on the image above to see Elizabeth's McGoo U video previews (in lieu of her favorite tutorial), and read her Close-up here.
Hani Bacova of Haniela's
"Haniela's tutorials are delightful. She presents many different techniques and they are user-friendly."
"I watch more of Hani's videos than any other."
Watch Hani's favorite tutorial (Princess Cookie Rings) above, and stay tuned for her upcoming Close-up.
Marlyn Birmingham of Montreal Confections
"Marlyn consistently provides quality video tutorials, along with templates for new and different cookie-ing techniques. Her paint-a-cookie innovation is worth this nomination alone."
"For Marlyn's great work providing such a wide variety of cookie [techniques], and in such a way that [is] a huge help to cookie sellers."
Watch Marlyn's favorite tutorial above (yes, her famous paint-a-cookie innovation!), and learn more about her in her Close-up.
Amber Spiegel of SweetAmbs
" . . . her tutorials are the ones I used the most. She's so great and talented . . . and she taught me to make things I thought I wouldn't be capable of doing."
"I have personally corresponded with Amber on a few occasions, and she has provided guidance and valuable information on techniques to assist me. Her tutorials are easy to follow and thorough."
Click on the image above to read Amber's favorite 2014 tutorial (Mini Plaque Monogram Cookies), and read her Close-up here.
** Cookie Philanthropist and Innovator of the Year Finalists **
Lest you thought that the emptiness of this area meant I forgot the finalists in these categories, I didn't! It's just that, in both of these categories, your nominations indicated a clear and decisive winner! So rather than name finalists, we're going to keep you on pins and needles a bit longer and declare these winners later this month once our judges have made their final selections in the other two categories.
** What Happens From Here **
From here, our illustrious panel of judges (below) will spend the next two weeks or so carefully considering the personal favorites that were provided by each candidate, as well as each candidate's complete 2014 Cookie Connection portfolio (for Cookier of the Year) or body of 2014 educational activity beyond the site (i.e., videos, written tutorials, classes, books, or other teaching vehicles, for Cookie Educator of the Year). Each of our four judges will evaluate the candidates independently, across several different criteria, before making her final determination. I will personally tally the judges' votes and serve as the tie-breaker if one is needed. We've tried to make the process as systematic, fair, and thoughtful as possible, because we know - based on the caliber of these candidates - that our decisions will be very tough ones to make.
Now, for the judges: they are none other than the following very talented Cookie Connection contributors. As all are skilled artisans and active members of this site and the broader cookie community, I can't think of a more qualified team to invest with making these important decisions. Please give them a hearty "woo-hoo!" for accepting the challenge and responsibility of the tough task that lies ahead.
While the judges are busy deliberating, please also take a moment to congratulate each of our finalists on their remarkable accomplishments this past year! The cookie community owes them all a huge debt of gratitude for their continual inspiration and generous contributions of time and talent. What would cookie-land be without any one of them? It's impossible to imagine!
And, of course, stay tuned for the final winner reveal at the end of the month!