After deliberating and deliberating and then deliberating some more, our esteemed panel of judges has finally reached a verdict in our 2016 Cookiers' Choice Awards! Before I reveal the winners, let me just say that the decision-making was NOT easy (hence the protracted deliberation! ). All of our finalists are clearly among the best at what they do, and each brings a uniquely wonderful set of skills to the cookie world. So, congrats to every finalist for getting to this point, and thank you to the judges (pictured below) for their very rigorous reviews of finalists' photos and other materials, and the excruciating hair-splitting that went along with that. For a complete introduction to our finalists, please see this earlier post.
As you may recall from our initial awards announcement, we have four awards categories this year - Cookier (aka Cookie Artist), Cookie Educator, Cookie Innovator, and Cookie Collaboration. In two of these categories - Cookie Educator and Innovator - your nominations indicated an overwhelming winner, so no finalists were announced, and I'm jumping directly to revealing the winners today. In the other two categories, our judging panel did their due diligence and determined the results that you'll see momentarily.
Each of our very deserving winners will receive a cash prize of $500 USD, as well as a commemorative crystal trophy. (Please note that, in the Collaboration category, the cash prize will go to the charity or charities supported by the collaboration, and the trophy will go to the collaboration organizer to either covet or circulate among her collaborators, as she wishes! )
Now, onto our winners along with some remarks from our judges and nominators, starting first with the Cookier of the Year category, whose finalists included:
And the winner is . . .
2016 Cookier of the Year: Evelin Milanesi of Evelindecora
"Evelin’s work is endlessly beautiful and varied, and yet all recognizably ‘Evelindecora’ in style. She uses perhaps the widest variety of techniques I’ve seen in any cookie artist, from brush embroidery and wet on wet, to highly detailed sugar fondant modeling and handpainting. Her miniature food series is unique and unbelievably realistic, yet each example still pulls together as a charming individual piece of artwork. She utilizes the most complex of techniques with apparent ease, resulting in an exquisite perfection in every cookie."
"The thing that has always set Evelin apart in the past and, even now, is the composition of her designs. She thinks of EVERYTHING! I admire all of the cookies made by the finalists, but in Evelin’s case, I come back over and over again and, each time, find a delightful detail I hadn’t noticed before. I always feel inspired by Evelin’s creations."
Want to know more about Evelin? Read her past Cookier Close-up interview here.
Now, onto our other judged category, Collaboration of the Year, where we had two finalists:
Please note that judges who were participants in these collaborations did not judge this category.
And [suspense builds] . . . the winner is . . .
2016 Collaboration of the Year: Killer Zebras 2017 Cookie Calendar
(Organizer: Melanie Burns; Contributors, in order of calendar month: LilaLoa, Sweet Sugarbelle, Killer Zebras, Fernwood Cookie, Dany’s Cakes, The Baked Equation, Sugar Dayne, The Painted Pastry, Honeycat Cookies, You Can Call Me Sweetie, Funky Cookie Studio, and Emma’s Sweets)
"Not only was the Killer Zebras' calendar something I would gladly hang on my wall, but I think it represents the 'best of' every individual cookie artist featured. Although every artist decorated in her own individual style, the calendar felt very cohesive as I 'flipped' from page to page. The colors used were stunning, and the execution of every contribution was flawless. I thought the 'cookiesaws' were very well executed, and some of the techniques and designs really stood out as unique, such as the May fishbowl and the April mountain scene. Many others were simply clever and perfectly executed. A terrific collab!"
"The level of creativity, originality, and applied skill is outstanding. The presentation of the cookies is very uniform, tying them together as a unit without losing the individuality of each cookie set."
As for our two un-judged categories, our nominators spoke loud and clear in declaring the following two cookiers this year's winners:
2016 Cookie Educator of the Year: Aixa Zunino of Dolce Sentire
"Aixa's instructions are always clearly explained and easy to understand. Her tutorials teach a variety of techniques, incorporating all levels of skill. Her chosen pieces are always very unique and beautiful."
"Her tutorials are perfect in every way, from the project choice and its flawless execution to her stunning photography and detailed explanations, down to the exact colors and paint brushes that she uses. And, let's not forget that her tutorials here on Cookie Connection are written in English, and she's Spanish! I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be to convey the nuances of her designs without using her native language. In addition to tutorial writing, Aixa teaches online and in person, generously sharing her talents all over the globe."
To learn more about Aixa's cookies and teaching methods, check out her Cookie Connection tutorials here.
2016 Cookie Innovator of the Year: Callye Alvarado of Sweet Sugarbelle
"In 2016, Callye hit the Home Shopping Network and major US craft store chains with a passion and did something no cookier has ever done before: in partnership with American Crafts, she made cookie decorating ever more popular and accessible with an all-encompassing cookie product line. Among her tools are the clever and highly innovative Shape Shifter cutter sets that allow you to get countless designs from a handful of cutters. As with her pioneering blog, Callye is cutting a new swath in the cookie jungle, making it easier than ever for newcomers to find their way. I applaud Callye for all she's done this year, and in years prior, to shape the cookie world."
"Her collection of products found easily in local craft stores has made cookies even more appealing and fun and easy - for everyone!"
To get to know Callye better, read her previous Cookier Close-up here.
And that concludes the presentation of our 2016 Cookiers' Choice Awards - I hope you enjoyed them! Congrats again to all of our finalists and winners, and a huge thanks to our judges who spare me from making these tough decisions each year. 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!