Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pastry Chicago's 4th Annual Student Cake Decorating Competition A Success

Pastry Chicago, an organization which brings culinary schools, community organizations, and members of the Chicago community together saw a successful event in its 4th Annual Student Cake Decorating Competition held at Esperanza Community Services on Saturday, April 18, 2009. Students from culinary and high schools competed for prizes and recognition, and to raise funds for Esperanza.

More than one hundred competitors and spectators gathered on Saturday at Esperanza Community Services, an organization which offers services and therapeutic education to children and adults with disabilities. Esperanza celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, and the theme of the cake decorating competition reflected the celebration of 40 years of the organization's service. Each attendee to Saturday's event contributed a donation to Esperanza.

Nearly 40 competitors at both the high school and culinary school levels participated to win this year's titles and prizes which were donated by Villeroy & Boch, the sponsor to the event. Judges who volunteered their time included internationally-renowned Master Cake Artist Nicholas Lodge; Chef Keli Fayard of Vanille PĆ¢tisserie; Chef Peter Rios of Alliance Bakery; Chef Sandy Folsom of Wilton Enterprises; Chef Barbara Evans of Wedding Cake Connection; Sally Scheib of Esperanza Community Services; and Nelly CarreƱo of Telemundo.

While the judges examined each contestant's cake creation which consisted of three-tiered dummy cakes decorated by rolled fondant and gumpaste decorations, all of the guests observed Chef Laura Ragano of The French Pastry School demonstrate floral gumpaste decorations. Chef Laura was assisted by Wayne Johnson, host of "Wayne's Weekend" on NBC Chicago News Today. Chef Laura has been featured twice as a guest on Wayne's weekly segment.

The judges awarded three winners in both the culinary school and high school divisions. The culinary winners included Evangelina Bertand (1st Place), Leila Manoochehri (2nd Place), and Sarah Dunworth (3rd Place). The winners of the high school division were Semaj Thomas (1st Place), Nina Salem (2nd Place), and Graciela Martinez (3rd Place).

"This competition was a successful event on many levels: It provided a challenge and creative outlet for students in both the culinary and high school levels, while benefiting the members of Esperanza," said Franco Pacini, Director of Pastry Chicago and Board Member of Esperanza Community Services. "It's a wonderful thing to bring several sectors of the educational community together and to contribute to a worthy cause."

Pastry Chicago will host its first Amateur Cheesecake Competition on May 4, 2009 at Eli's Cheesecake located at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Dr. Chicago, IL 60634. More details may be found at

Pastry Chicago is a group of passionate people who love and enjoy all forms of pastries. Pastry Chicago is made up of professional pastry chefs, students of the art of pastry and people who enjoy eating and the visual art of pastry. The goal of our group is to experience the Art of Pastry in all its glory at educational fun events across the city of Chicago and at the same time promote the fantastic talents of all the Artisans who work at the craft of producing beautiful delicious pastries.

Esperanza Community Service's mission is to provide instruction and services to people with disabilities to reach their fullest potential toward a productive and independent life in the community. Its vision is to be a premier agency that provides a full range of quality services for people with disabilities and to advocate on their behalf to enhance their quality of life and to increase community awareness and acceptance.

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