Hello, everyone! I trust you've heard by now about my cookie decorating competition?! If not, it's called Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™, and it's being held this year at the Show Me Sweets Show in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, USA on July 13-14, 2019!
Its aim is to celebrate our amazingly talented cookie community and to help cookiers take their skills to the next level! People sometimes panic at the sound of "competition", but I like to remind them that winning top prize shouldn't be THE primary goal. Skills development and learning are paramount. If you walk away from a competition having learned a few new things, then that is the greatest prize of all. (I truly mean this, so consider registering now. There's nothing to lose and so much to gain!)
This year, my competition has expanded to include both 2-D/flat and 3-D cookie categories, and get this . . . the 3-D category is also going to be filmed for an upcoming TV documentary on a major network! Yes, I know - super cool, right?!
More deets about the documentary (and how you can get on TV!) can be seen in the poster below and also found here. The 2-D category has some awesome cash prizes as well.
With that background aside, onto the matter at hand - the illustrious judges! With my competition taking on greater visibility this year, it's more important than ever to have an awesomely talented, fair, and constructive judging panel - and that's just what we have. Joining me as judges this year are three other cookiers. Each of these cookiers has demonstrated exceptional know-how and skill over the years, and, taken together, they have expertise in almost every cookie decorating technique, including painting, airbrushing, stenciling, "extreme" piping, and 3-D design and construction. We even have a product expert on the team. But, perhaps most important, all have extensive cookie judging/competing and teaching experience. The latter is particularly critical, as one of our aims, as always, is to provide entrants with as much feedback as possible. Feedback is critical to our goal of ongoing learning.
And who are the these esteemed judges, you ask?! Drum roll, please . . . I couldn't be more thrilled to have these cookiers working with me . . .
Please read on to learn more about these cookiers and the skills and experiences they bring to bear on this competition. One last word on the competition, though . . . if you're interested in entering the 3-D category, I encourage you to register this month (here), as the network will be drawing on the list of registrants to determine who they feature on the show!
Again, a huge round of applause to the judges!
Stephanie Kappel, the owner and cookie artist at The Hungry Hippopotamus, believes that cookies are the perfect marriage of technical skill, artistic expression, and visible affection. Her work has been featured on ABC Action News and in American Cake Decorating, Edible Artists Network, and Southern Living magazines. She has been interviewed on Cookie Connection™ and the Power of a Cookie Podcast, and featured as a Superhero of Sweets by Ann Clark Cookie Cutters. Her clients include Disney and Williams-Sonoma, and she most recently competed in the finale of Holiday Gingerbread Showdown on Food Network. Stephanie is a Bluprint instructor, contributing educator for SugarEd Productions Sugar Art School, and proud baker for Icing Smiles.
Ginny Levack and her husband, Doug, are the inventors of the original Stencil Genie® and duo behind Creative Cookier and Genie Products for Better Baking, which offer an array of products and services specially designed for cookie decorators. When Ginny is not coming up with new products, she produces themed cookie retreats and cruises that bring cookie decorating enthusiasts together with well-known cookie “celebs”. Ginny and Doug have received two Cookie Connection™ Cookiers’ Choice Awards, as well as an EAGA Innovations Award. As one judge said: “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.”
Sandie Beltran is the founder of You Can Call Me Sweetie and Sweetie Academy, a cookie boutique and decorating school located in Miami, Florida that specializes in custom made-to-order sugar cookies as well as group and private cookie decorating classes. Sandie began her love of cookie decorating in October 2012 with making cookie sets for her family and friends. The popularity of her sugar art grew so rapidly that, by January 2015, she was able to take her passion for cookie decorating to full time. Sandie has won Cookie Connection™’s 2014 Cookier of the Year Award and been selected as a finalist for Cake Masters Magazine's 2015 Cookie Award. Says Sandie, "I truly strive for perfection and enjoy working with intricate and innovative designs that give the wow factor to any event. I love sharing my cookie journey with my students and helping them achieve their full potential in this wonderful world of cookie decorating."