Great Pride Bake Off delivers dessert, comradery

“We’re here, we’re queer, and we want sweets.”

From rainbow cheesecake and unicorn cupcakes to cherry pie and cookies, attendees and judges were impressed by the display of desserts entered in the Great Pride Bake Off at the West Virginia University LGBTQ+ Center Tuesday afternoon.

Modeled after the television show Great British Bake Off, nearly a dozen WVU faculty, staff, and students entered their best dessert for the competition in celebration of Pride month.

“We need any and all opportunities to get together as a community and food is something that always brings people together,” said LGBTQ+ Center Director Ellen Rodrigues, Ph.D.  “We thought this was a nice way to enjoy some sweets and meet each other and reconnect after such a long time away from each other.”

Judges Tanner Floyd and Anika Rowe from Terra Cafe, Caitlin O’Connell from River Birch Cafe, and Shane Zollner, a local food product distributor representative, said their job was extremely difficult, but they felt they thoroughly evaluated each entry.

“We know that everyone participating had really put their heart into it and spent a lot of time working on this so we wanted to show respect to that by giving careful consideration to everything,” Floyd said.

After a blind taste test and a long deliberation, the judges chose winners in three categories.

Samantha Marino’s colorful almond rainbow roll won the signature category by best representing the Pride theme.

Petal Palmer took the prize in the technical category with a perfect rainbow layer cake, each layer a unique, vibrant color.

In the showstopper category, which required both great technique and theme representation, Ally Brothers blew the judges away with a vegan lemon blueberry loaf cake.

“Morgantown is the first place I’ve ever lived that actually has events like this,” Brothers said.  “It makes me feel like it’s a nice place I can call home.”

“It’s nice that there are events like this.  It just feels welcoming and kind of supportive,” Palmer said.

Those in attendance not only got to sample all the desserts, but also joined in some fun food-related games.  And if going back to the table for seconds is any indicator of a successful event – the bake off was a smashing success.

“Food is a gathering point for everybody, every community and every person.  Food tends to be at the center of culture, so getting together with comradery around food is always fun – and making it a little bit competitive doesn’t hurt either,” Zollner said.

O’ Connell said she thought it was cool to see a diverse group of people all in one building and “wanting to participate in something that feels small, but is actually pretty big.”

The judges said the vegan lemon blueberry loaf cake Brothers made may even make it to one of their restaurants as a feature – with Brothers credited of course.

“Even though we bake everyday, we still have a lot to learn and it’s really cool that we can do that here – we can learn from students,” Rowe said.  “I mean that vegan cake? I’m blown away!”

Floyd said from their perspective anything that can be done to “increase visibility for the queer community is always a win.

“I was very impressed by everyone,” he said.  “I’m so glad this was a successful event and hopefully we will continue to do it again in the future.”

The post Great Pride Bake Off delivers dessert, comradery appeared first on Dominion Post.

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