This Saturday Spotlight may be late, but it's super sweet! Yes, it's the long-awaited announcement of the 2015 Cookiers' Choice Awards winners!
After a grueling few weeks of deliberation, our illustrious panel of judges, below, has reached a final conclusion. To arrive at the winners, each judge reviewed the finalists' photo and video portfolios, websites, product offerings, and other cookie-related activities, and then independently evaluated each candidate across several selection criteria specifically tailored to each of the awards categories.
Mind you, this was no easy task, as each and every finalist is so very talented in his/her own individual way. As one judge so aptly described the process: "I agonized over every selection in every category! Every single nominee is truly worthy of the honor they were nominated for. We are a very lucky community of cookiers to have so much talent in our midst!"
Indeed! I might also add that we are extremely lucky to have had such a thoughtful group of cookiers making the initial nominations, as well as these important final selections. I want to especially thank the judges for applying such time and care to this process, and to commend all of the finalists again for being incredible sources of inspiration in 2015. As another judge so eloquently put it: "All nominees produce extraordinary work and are an inspiration to other cookiers, in that they demonstrate the possibilities and the creativity that cookies can unleash. But they are also the embodiment of the dedication required [to create such remarkable work]."
One last housekeeping note about prizes before the grand reveal! (I know, I know . . . the suspense is killer!) What exactly do our winners win? First and most important, they all receive the heartfelt recognition of the entire cookie community! But, they also get, courtesy of Cookie Connection, an elegant crystal trophy (similar to the one below), custom-engraved to mark the particular award, and $100 to use however they wish!
Sorry, one last reminder! The Cookiers' Choice Awards recognize winners in four different categories: Cookier, Cookie Educator, Cookie Innovator, and Cookie Philanthropist of the Year. The first three categories were judged, as I described above, whereas the winner in the last category was determined by this community's popular vote during the nominations process. In that case, one person received such an overwhelmingly large number of nominations that I decided to declare no finalists - just the one very deserving winner who will be announced momentarily.
So without further ado, I present the 2015 Cookiers' Choice Awards winners, along with select remarks from our judges about what made these cookiers stand out in 2015.
2015 Cookier of the Year: Evelin Milanesi of Evelindecora
"Each of Evelin's creations is an original piece of art, beautifully executed with a style of her own done to perfection! Her critters, characters, and miniatures are unique, fantastic little masterpieces that are stunning and priceless. Her 2015 portfolio is unbeatable by all standards."
"Evelin is a master of color, texture, and design. Her use of color is subtle, yet striking, and she often approaches designs from a unique and unusual perspective. Each cookie is a visual feast, making you want to study every single inch."
2015 Cookie Educator of the Year: Georganne Bell of LilaLoa
"2015 was Georganne’s year. Her crowning achievement for 2015 was the publication of her book, The Cookie Companion, which not only provides loads of helpful cookie decorating tips, but also includes extraordinary and indispensable color charts for mixing food gel colors. Georganne significantly branched out in her teaching this year by adding a class on Craftsy, all while maintaining her long-running blog. The blog is a perennial favorite of mine, not just for cookie decorating tips and tricks, but for all of its 'scientific-y' research articles . . . Georganne does all of this, and does it with such good cheer and ease."
"Georganne stood out for me this year as Cookie Educator, as she tackled two of the most ‘serious’ cookie problems: color in her book and shapes in her Craftsy class. The Craftsy class will change how people look at cutters (and everything else around them for that matter!), whereas the book will become a reference for colors and how to mix them."
2015 Cookie Innovators of the Year: Karen and Mike Summers of CookieCon
"Imagining something amazing and accomplishing it are two very different things. I chose Mike and Karen because, by creating CookieCon, they changed the cookie world forever. They brought people from all over the world together, and have given our community a platform and the resources to do things many of us never ever imagined."
"Mike and Karen have had great impact by bringing so many people together at one venue where they can learn by participating, watching, shopping, and chatting. This impact is . . . manifested in the wish of non-attending cookiers to ‘save up’ to be there in the future, and in the prod it has given further-away cookiers to get together on a smaller scale. Karen and Mike's artistry lies in their vision, and the quality of their work is displayed in their organizational skill and determination."
2015 Cookie Philanthropist of the Year: Anita Cadonau-Huseby of Sweet Hope Cookies
"Anita has this year, among other things, organised Bake to Defeat ALS, which raised enormous amounts of money for ALS research, as well as highlighted and made cookies for the GO BO Foundation cookie sale. Anita gives all her time to helping people."
"Anita is unsurpassed in her philanthropic activities. She is able to bring so many together for so many causes."
"Not only has Anita worked tirelessly to raise funds for ALS research, but her fund was the largest Community of Hope tribute fund this year, with $28,614 raised thus far. This result is testament to Anita's remarkable heart and generosity."
What an incredible group! Please raise a glass (or a cookie, if you prefer!) to the wonderful contributions of our 2015 winners, finalists, and judges, and to the prospect of another grand cookie-year in 2016!