“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” ~ Anthony Bourdain
By now, many of you have probably heard about the tragic passing of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. Some celebrity deaths always feel more real than others to me. Just as David Bowie provided the soundtrack to my life, Anthony Bourdain provided the travel itinerary and menu. One of Chef Bourdain's greatest gifts was his ability to communicate through food and to show us that, although our food and cultures are diverse, we are all one glorious human family. So, to honor Bourdain's legacy, I would like to make this challenge about developing an appreciation for other countries, people, and cultures through cookie art.
Before I get to the details of this challenge, let's talk about our FABULOUS prize! As always, the prize for this challenge will be awarded to one lucky challenge entrant, chosen entirely at random from among all of the entrants. Plus, the more times you enter the challenge, the greater your chances of winning.
- 3 sets of rolling guides (2 guides per set) in the following thicknesses: 4 mm (~1/8 in), 6 mm (~1/4 in), and 10 mm (~3/8 in)
- 1 (11 x 16 ½ in/28 x 42 cm) silicone rolling mat
- Shipping anywhere in the world
Tina’s Dough Sticks are unique insofar as they are wider and longer than most (2 x 18 in/5 x 46 cm) and have laser-etched ruling guides to allow you to space your cookies perfectly on your mat. And those guides won’t rub off or even wash off in the dishwasher!
For more information about Tina and her Dough Sticks, please visit her site and Facebook and Instagram pages. Her site also contains a wonderful story about how her sons Jesse and Jacob fueled her reason to bake and to bring these sticks to market; you can read and watch it here. Thank you, Tina, for such a generous donation to our challenge!
Now, let's get on with the details of this challenge! In the open, globalist spirit of Anthony Bourdain, I want you to "see" a new part of the world. More specifically, I want you to study one of Chef Bourdain's favorite countries, and then I want you to create a set of cookies inspired by the people, culture, and/or food of that country. Anthony Bourdain visited almost more countries than I can count, but for the purposes of this challenge, we are going to focus on the ten countries that Chef Bourdain visited most often, or that most intrigued and surprised him:
Inspiration comes in a lot of forms, so for this challenge, I do not necessarily want you to do a set of "travel-themed" cookies for the country of your choice (although that would be perfectly acceptable). Rather, I would love for you to look a little deeper. Really study the country you have selected. Look at the colors and palettes that appear again and again in the art, clothing, and landscapes of that country. Note whether certain patterns and prints are prevalent among the textiles and art of the country. Look at the food, and be inspired by the spices, the smells, the colors, and the textures. Is the country land-locked or by the sea? What I want you to do in this challenge is to really examine the unique qualities of your chosen country and use elements of what you have discovered in your set of cookies.
For instance, in these two different sets of summer cookies, I was influenced by the geometric patterns and colors of Australian aboriginal art:
Aboriginal Summer by Bakerloo Station
Fun in the Sun by Bakerloo Station
And in this set, I was inspired by the lavender in my garden in England:
Lavender Tea Party by Bakerloo Station
Inspiration is everywhere! Let's get to the rules of this challenge, so you can channel that inspiration into a set of cookies.
1. Pick a country from the following list of Anthony Bourdain's favorites. The country cannot be your home country!
3. In the comments to your entry, please tell us which country you chose, and a little bit about what from that country inspired you. Although not required, if you have pictures of your inspiration, please link off to them (if they are not your photos) or post them under your entry in the comments (if they are your photos). Again, do not post others' photos (i.e., copyrighted work) directly to the site.
4. As always, we ask that you make a brand new set of cookies for this challenge.
5. Think outside the box, take some healthy risks, and HAVE SOME FUN.
- Please post an image of your cookie set to the site under the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set no later than August 5, 2018 at 5 pm central. (We are giving you an extra two weeks for this challenge to accommodate people's relaxed summer schedules!)
- Because these challenges are ongoing, we ask that you put "Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #29" in your photo caption AND in a tag, so that we can tell the challenges apart from month to month. Please use the main title field to uniquely name your cookies as you normally would.
- Please also assign other relevant clip sets and tags to your images, as you normally would. (Meaning don't just use the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set and leave it at that, or your photos won't easily be found with keyword searches.)
- You can enter more than once, but please post only one clip of each distinct entry/cookie set. Multiple clips of the same entry/cookie set are not allowed unless added in a comment beneath the one primary clip.
After the challenge has closed on August 5, we will announce the winner in the Saturday Spotlight the following weekend (August 12). The next challenge will be announced after that Spotlight.
Remember, this is NOT meant to be a competition. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. Period. These challenges are intended to inspire the artist in you and push you to be the best cookie artist YOU can be at this snapshot in time. Remember, the whole point of this exercise is to get you out of your comfort zone - to "take healthy risks," as my wise-beyond-his-years son always reminds me. Plus, prizes are given entirely at random, so healthy risk-taking has its own rewards!
I would love to chat with you as you journey through this process, so if you have any questions about the challenge, are having trouble getting started, need help bringing an idea to life, want technical advice, or need clarification of a challenge rule, please leave a comment below or send me a Cookie Connection private message.
And one final, but very important thing . . . Anthony Bourdain suffered from depression and took his own life. I want you, my fellow cookie peeps, to know that I see you and care about you. Life is good, and this world is a whole lot better because each and every one of you is in it. Reach out to someone who might be feeling sad, isolated, or lonely. Better yet, gift them the cookies you make for this Practice Bakes Perfect challenge, and let them know how very glad you are that they are here in this world! Cookies are powerful symbols of love. Use them to make this world that we all share a better place.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call, in the U.S., the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. For international resources, here is a good place to begin.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: I was in tears as I read this post. Thank you, @Bakerloo Station, for such a heartfelt tribute challenge. And, cookie peeps, I too see you and care about you. Thank you for being in my life, and making it richer and fuller every day. XOXO ~JMU]
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.