Finding Myself Friday: Food for Thought

sweet_up_event-1-2 organizers and judges
This past week was very busy and full. It started off with the very first Kosher Cupcake Bake-off, an event that I co-produced with SweetUP partner Abbey Wolin (Not2shabbey.com), Breezy Beckerman (breezyny.com), and Beth Rosen (Chicagonista.com and 4KeysMedia.com). Thank you all for making things happen. Event planning can be very stressful and tiring, especially for parents also working full-time and taking care of young children. Family is first, and being a mother and wife are my top priorities. I am so thankful that my husband and children gave me the extra five minutes, which often became fifty, while working on this event.

Once everything came together at Breezy’s beautiful store in Cedarhurst, NY, and over 100 people from just a few streets away to as far as New Jersey filled the room, I remembered why I work so hard on these events. The end result is always good. This event, an idea that came from the talented Beth Rosen, came to fruition in just five weeks. These things only happen when every member of the team is contributing what little extra time they have to make things happen. All of our time was donated to create this event and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Achiezer Hurricane Sandy Fund.

It was so nice to see the tremendous support from the community, which was a mixture of foodies, friends, and fans of everything cupcakes. Our special MC for the afternoon was Jamie Geller. In addition to being a mom of five children, she is the founder of the Kosher Media Network, Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine & JoyofKosher.com. Even though Jamie now lives in Israel with her family, she takes frequent trips to the USA for speaking engagements and press events. We were thrilled to have Jamie join our other impressive panel of judges including, Bobbie Lloyd, President and Operating Partner, Magnolia Bakery; Alessandra Rovati, an Italian food writer and lecturer and founder of dinnerinvenice.com; and Tamar Genger MA, RD Director of Digital Media for Kosher Media Network and Executive Editor for JoyofKosher.com. There was no shortage of sweet treats at the event, but I also want to thank Esti from Fruit Platters and More for supplying a beautiful platter of fresh fruit. She also donated the pomegranate seeds that our contestant used during the competition. Also, just as important, was the hip tunes sound system donated by the fab DJ Ben Black.

Check out some of the photos of the event from Lia Jay Photography and Heidi Schwartz.

The contestants were incredibly talented at their trade! They included Melissa Kaye of lilmisscakes.com, Faige Goldner of cupofcakenj.com, Michelle Goodman Frohlich of cakeabite.com, and Shira Perlman of DelightfullySweet.com. They all produced some of the most amazing looking, and tasting cucpakes, I have ever had. All of these cupcakes, from cake to frosting, were dairy free. Part of the fun in this event was the element of surprise. The contestants were sent a box of ingredients to use in their cupcakes earlier in the week. These ingredients included Cherry Heering Liqueur and Coffee Liqueur, King Arthur Flour, Fig Jam, and Balsamic Vinegar. They could either use all of them in one cupcake, or use them in three different cupcakes. For the icing on the cake, literally, the contestants had to pick three of the following ingredients: pomegranate seeds, lavender, cumin, cinnamon maple butter, apricot kernel oil and wild sweet orange Tazo tea. The theme that they had to create in their cupcakes was Purim. They had a total of 45 minutes to create their frosting from scratch and decorate their cupcakes.

Once the clock started, attendees watched as the contestants made their way to great creations. Breezy provided all of the tools and fondant a cupcake designer could desire. When their time was up, the contestants presented their cupcakes, all so inventive and festive. Once the judges had a chance to view and taste the three cupcakes from each contestant, they took a few minutes to make their decision. During this time, the winners of the raffle prizes were announced. The raffle prize sponsors included Joy of Kosher, Earth Balance, KitchenAidUSA, King Arthur Flour, Breezysny.com, Not2Shabbey.com, and Fairway Market.

The winner of the cupcake competition went to Cup of Cake NJ. Faige Goldner, with her baby in tow, created Fig Cupcakes with Pomegranate Cream Cheese Frosting. Faige’s cupcakes and winning recipe will be featured on joyofkosher.com and in the Shavuot issue of Joy of Kosher Magazine with Jamie Geller.
Feeling full from such a tremendous event, but not yet done for the week, I attended the 7th Annual Kosher Food & Wine Experience on Monday evening. This event was sold-out and 1700 people attended. I just loved running into some of the food personalities I met since I started my blog over four years ago. From Chef Jeff Nathan of Abigael’s to Nachum Segal of the Nachum Segal Show, it was an evening full of the leading personalities in the kosher food world. The food at this event was so beyond what most people think a kosher meal should be; move over matzo balls! Kosher food has influences from all of the countries that Jews have lived. We’ve been everywhere! For a complete listing of the food and wine, go to http://www.kfwe2013.com. Who knew?

As I now start my next diet, or is it I am picking up from the last one I was keeping? I am thankful for having a full week. Now, as Shabbos approaches along with a major winter storm named after a fish in a Disney film, #nemo, I am happy to also have a full tank of gas, a refrigerator of food, and a heart full of appreciation of what is on my plate.

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