And the winner is…
Sara Vanderheyden, a cake decorator at a Hy-Vee store in Ames, Iowa, took home the top prize in IDDBA’s 21st annual Cake Decorating Challenge, held at the Dairy-Deli-Bake show in Houston June 5-7.
New this year, show attendees could vote each day for the People’s Choice Award. Vanderheyden won that honor on Day 2 for her wedding cake (left) and the three cakes she decorated on Day 3, including one focusing on the show’s theme of Growing the Future (right).
Photo (left) courtesy of Hy-Vee
Vanderheyden said she’s been decorating cakes “my whole life,” and she’s been a professional decorator for 17 years. For the first day of the competition — during which the three contestants had to fill an eight-foot case with cakes — many of Vanderheyden’s creations were inspired and approved by her nine-year-old child.
When asked about her favorite technique, Vanderheyden said, “Airbrushing is my absolute favorite.”
Vanderheyden competed in the Cake Decorating Challenge the last time Dairy-Deli-Bake was held in Houston in 2010. She came in third that year.
Second place winner Nayeli Cruz, a decorator for Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions in Carlsbad, Calif., has been decorating cakes since she was 14.
Ready to create
Cruz said she didn’t have a specific plan going into Day 1 of the competition. She was excited to use all the equipment she had ordered.
Attention to detail
For her wedding cake (left) on Day 2, Cruz used a henna pattern.
One of Cruz’s cakes on Day 3 featured miniature cakes on miniature cake stands on top of a full-size cake (center). Cruz said sculpting is one of her favorite techniques. Another cake had a Day of the Dead theme (right).
Hear me roar
Paige Thornton, a decorator at Green Valley Marketplace in Elkridge, Md., won the People’s Choice Award on Day 1 of the challenge. The dragon cake seen here is one of her store’s biggest sellers, and one of her manager’s favorites. Thornton came in third place overall.
A new classic
Thornton, who has been a cake decorator for seven years, said her four-tiered wedding cake had a “modern vintage” style.
Shown here are Thornton’s finished wedding cake (left) and an ocean-themed cake from Day 3 (right).