Local celebrity -- and reality TV cake-design champion -- Mike Elder brought in four of his friends, all national culinary reality-show heavyweights, to compete for handmade sculptural trophies yesterday at the "Icing on the Cake" sugar exposition and competition, a benefit for the local domestic-violence shelter Newhouse, at the Overland Park Sheraton Hotel; the fundraiser netted $15,000 for the organization.
It was a particularly terrific night for California-based Debbie Goard of Debbie Does Cakes: The Oakland designer won both the "People Choice" prize -- voted by the 450 participants at the event who used cash instead of ballots -- and the judges' prize for her towering construction that had, like all four competing cakes, a Kansas City theme.
Goard's cake -- inedible, like all the competing cakes in the three-hour competition -- was a 3-foot high assemblage of an iced "barbecue" sauce bottle topped with a plate of realistic but confectionary "ribs," a cobette of buttered corn, a harmonica -- representing Kansas City's jazz heritage -- and a shuttlecock. Goard's construction was attached to speakers that played music as smoke poured out of unseen holes in the bottle.
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Goard's winning cake wasn't the only smoking
creation: Stocky Brian Stevens of Crazy Cakes Inc. in Austin, Texas, created a visually spectacular cake that looked like a mammoth barbecued rib -- a still-smoking rib, at that -- mounted atop a confectionary fountain that spurted a red liquid resembling barbecue sauce. It was a clever creative play on both this city's best-known dish and its reputation as the "City of Fountains." A giant fork was plunged into the top of the cake. The arrows through the rib, says Stevens, represented the Kansas City Chiefs.
There weren't a lot of rules guiding the cake designers for this competition. Each cake was supposed to be at least 3-feet tall, although the "cow" themed cake created by Oklahoma City-based Ruth Rickey wasn't that tall, but the former attorney and law judge had read the fine print and said the height wasn't actually a rule -- and no one was willing to argue with her.
The other "rule" was that each of the competing cakes have a Kansas City theme. The most elaborate cake in the competition was created by Bob Brougham of Illinois (he wore sneakers covered with ruby-colored glitter) who assembled -- with his team -- a four-tier affair that paid homage to The Wizard of Oz
-- which isn't really a Kansas City subject, but what the hell -- jazz, the Kansas City sports teams, sunflowers and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art's iconic shuttlecocks.
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It was a striking creation, but the judges -- Katie Van Luchene, KSHB-TV's Keith King and Curtis Jay and Brookside actress Yve Rojas (featured on the reality show Survivor: Nicaragua
) and me -- voted on Goard's cake instead. This year was the second time that Mike Elder had organized an "Icing on the Cake" event for Newhouse.
"We had expected, maybe, 150 people and we had over 450," says Elder. "We had to arrange to move to a bigger ballroom a couple of days before the event."