From March 8th through the 10th, the 2020 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show was held at the Javits Center in New York. Not surprisingly, due to the rising fears over the COVID-19 virus, the crowds were noticeably thinner than previous years. But many set out to prove the show must go on, among them the competitors and judges of the Gelato and Cake Design Competitions sponsored by Mec3 USA, David Rosen Bakery Supply and Modecor.
The Gelato Competition was a two-day event, the first round taking place on Sunday, March 8th. Eight competitors showcased a gelato flavor of their choosing, having one hour to execute it using at least one Mec3 product. The judging criteria were taste, structure, presentation and creativity. “It’s all about the choice in the ingredients,” according to judge Gianluigi Dellaccio of Dolci Gelato, who also happens to be the first official gelato ambassador in the U.S. He noted that quality of the ingredients themselves, as well as the combination of flavors, need to be carefully considered in order to win.
Six competitors made it to the second round on Tuesday, March 10th where they each had to execute the theme of “American Apple Pie.” The ultimate deciding factor for declaring the winner according to judge Porsha Kimble was the “balancing of flavors along with the base,” noting that a good base made the “flavors come out cleaner.” First prize was awarded to Monica Cione of Cione Gelato in Cape May, NJ. She was a clear favorite in the first round with her “Happy Almond” gelato, a combination of coconut, almonds and chocolate as well. Judge Regina Varolli noted how the light mouthfeel of her base set her apart from the other competitors. Second prize went to Robert Mahler, and third went to Lauren Tamm.
Kimble stayed quite busy on Monday, March 9th as well, also judging the Cake Design Competition. Five competitors were tasked with creating a cake with a minimum of three tiers within two and a half hours. They were judged on presentation, technique, creativity, neatness and adherence to the theme for at least two of the tiers, which was “Chalkboard Cake.” At least one tier had to exclusively use Modecor products, which were provided at the show, and contestants were encouraged to use a variety of media such as fondant, royal icing and sugar molding.
Maraiza Velazquez of Sweet Touch by Iva in Brooklyn, NY took home first prize, taking a risk by adding a fourth tier and personalizing the theme to tell her own story of being a baker. “She customized it to her advantage,” and ultimately won because of it, according to Kimble. Second place was awarded to Lisamarie Gonzalez and third to Ryan Del Franco, all winning gift certificates for baking supplies and of course, bragging rights.