The moment I walked into The Spot Underground on Sunday afternoon for The Great Cupcake Championship, I was immediately struck by two things: The herds of audible people and the dimly lit brick-walled room illuminated by beams of blue, pink and red lights. If it wasn’t 2:30 in the afternoon, I may have thought that I’d stumbled upon a killer new nightclub, like those among the streets of Prague. (Although I’ve never been to Prague, this is what I imagine a killer new nightclub to be like there.) A few steps further into the lively room and I saw what I had come for. Cupcakes. Lots of them. In heaping towers, dazzling displays and rows longer than highway lanes. It was a feast for the eyes and the best part was that they were all there for the taking—much like my sanity, minus the harmful side effects.
(Prague? Or Providence?)
Fourteen bakeries from around the state vied for the coveted spot of Cupcake Champion in this genius event created by Jim Nellis of RI FOOD FIGHTS and graphic designer/illustrator extraordinaire Casey Spencer (who created some gorgeous artwork for the promotional materials). I was largely impressed with the event’s emcees, Mike Ritz and our very own John Taraborelli, as they engaged the crowd and entertained with humorous banter. Although John ambushed me with hopes that I could spew a coherent sentence into that God-forsaken microphone while recovering from my previous evening’s newfound love for Wild Turkey American Honey (which failed on both accounts), I can’t hold it against him because he was doing his job. Plus, he was wearing a pretty cool fedora, so he was excused.
(Check out John's cool hat. Photo credit: Elaine Collins)
I cruised around the room, filling my plate with the little pieces of heaven that were beautifully presented to me, and after grabbing a nice selection, I began my taste-testing. I took bites of creamy red velvet and tangy margarita and fruity angel food cake and decadent peanut butter patty as I washed it down with not one, but three beverages—a Yacht Club Soda root beer, a glass of milk from Whole Foods, and a coffee from Providence Coffee Roasters. (Indulgent or dehydrated?) My taste buds could not have been happier with the vast selection of goodies. I’m pretty sure if my daughters had been there, we would have shut the place down. (And then I would have left my kids there once their sugar levels reached an all-time high.)
(Mmmmmmm... a feast of cupcakes)
The public was asked to vote for their favorite cupcake, while a panel of esteemed judges (including Chef Andrew Shotts of Garrison Confections, Chef Jennifer Luxmoore of Sin Desserts, Pastry Chef Melissa Denmark of Gracie’s, WPRO producer and host Bekah Berger and David Dadekian of Eat Drink RI) received trays of cupcakes throughout the day from cupcake hostess Kristen Minksy and determined first and second place. Taking first place as cupcake champion was Duck & Bunny of Wickendon street, followed by second place winners City Girl Cupcake for their Caramel Chocolate Walnut cupcake. The People’s Choice went to The CupCAKE Contessas for their spice cupcake. The judges’ honorable mention went to Mi-Mi’s Sweet Shoppe and the people honored Duck & Bunny as second place. Along with bragging rights, the top three champs received the coolest plate awards created by Ahlers Designs.
(Ahlers Designs award plates)
With over 300 tickets sold, this confectionary affair was nothing short of a sweet success. RI FOOD FIGHTS and Casey plan to continue these events with revolving food themes, and I’m eagerly awaiting their next battle. However, next time it’s only water for me the night before. You hear that, John? Come find me again. Just be sure I see you first.