Sweet toothed Beijingers: prepare to salivate. LumDimSum and the Hutong’s third annual Cookie Monster Bakeoff is upon us. Aspiring desert masters have until February 15 to submit their recipes. Those applicants will be invited to attend the March 20 bakeoff, where they can tempt local cookie fiends and vie for people’s and judge’s choice awards, along with all the tasty prestige that accompanies such a feat.
Event coordinator and founder Kristen Lum has plenty of incentives to run the event: it raises funds for a charity (yet to be determined this year), is fun for all ages, gives amateur bakers a platform to showcase their wares, and more. However, Lum confesses “The truth: I am the cookie monster and I just want an excuse to stuff my face with as many cookies as possible.” She adds, less jokingly: “Community events are a great excuse to get a large group of people with a shared interest together in one place doing what they love—in this case, baking and eating cookies— while also raising money for a good cause.”
Attendees are given a punch card upon arrival (RMB150 at the door, RMB100 for Hutong members), which grants them samples from each baker. Last year, 20 such varieties were available from both the 19 participants and Cookie Monster Bakeoff former champ and then judge Jon Ellis.
As the most famous winner of that contest during its inaugural year— who went on to found the now renowned, and highly successful, Big Bear Baked Goods— Ellis credits the Cookie Monster Bakeoff with much of his success. “It’s how I got my start,” he says, adding: “I entered the contest wanting to just show people what I could do, not thinking it would be of much consequence.”
However, his humble outlook was quickly proven wrong, as event goers eagerly asked where his store was located, or how they could purchase his tasty goodies. He’d tell them: ”I’m just a guy who likes to bake!” at first, but before long “I started to have more validation in my ideas and answer: ‘I’m thinking about looking into opening a place’ and then ‘I’m going to open a place in the summer!’ Ultimately, as the day came to a close, I frantically went to try cookies, talk with a few of my compatriots, and vote.”
As Ellis began tidying up his station and head home from the surprisingly empowering event, it was announced that he had won the peoples’ vote and judges’ votes. “I was, to say the least, surprised. It gave me the confidence that I needed to move forward.”
Ellis went on to help officiate the second bakeoff, in which he and his fellow judges picked Jordan Silva’s Chewy Chocoholic Cookies, while Kinsey Morrow and Cara Gleeson’s Cracker Jack Cookies won the people’s vote. Silvia is the chef at Eudora Station in Lidu, where customers can purchase the tasty deserts that helped her sway the judges.
As with previous winners, the 2016 people’s and judge’s choice will also be given the opportunity to host their very own cooking class at The Hutong, which the venue will publicize, providing them a chance to share their sweets and their recipes. Contact Lum for more information at Kristen@lumdimsum.com.
Photos: Courtesy of LumDimsum, Jon Ellis.