New England Dessert Showcase 2010 – Part 1

On Saturday, I attended an event that I had been jazzed (that’s right, jazzed) about ever since I registered to attend. Saturday was the New England Dessert Showcase, hosting a few dozen of the area’s top notch dessert makers at the Westin Copley Place. I originally intended to go as a member of the media and simply report on the showcase. But Ashley, one of the event organizers, suggested that I promote both CupcakeCamp and FreeFoodBoston as an exhibitor at the event. So in addition to sampling frozen custard, chocolate cake, cookie sandwiches, cupcakes and so much more, I got to speak to hundreds of attendees about CupcakeCamp. It was so much fun to meet people who had been to the event, had simply heard of it, or were learning about it for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the professional bakers I met who are excited to participate. Expect a bigger and better CupcakeCamp Boston 2011.

I did not quite know what to expect from the Dessert Showcase, mostly because they said they were expecting upwards of 5,000 attendees. The press and trade time slot, from 10am to noon, went really well. People had the chance to take in the entire room at once since it was not packed with people, and they could talk to the vendors. Once noon rolled around, things got a little crazy. Hundreds of general admission attendees filled the room. Samples got snatched up quickly, vendors had to scramble to restock their tables, it was difficult to move around, and there was little chance you could have a in-depth conversation with any of the vendors. My friends reported that the line snaked around the building and the mall and that organizers were telling people to come back in two hours. I have never organized an event this large before, but I would guess that with upwards of 5,000 people attending, you need more space and more product. I do of course know the difficulties associated with planning an event of this scale, and I’m curious what the Dessert Showcase organizers plan to do differently next year.

Luckily, I was able to meet most of the vendors before the crowds descended. O’Sugar Cakery was the first exhibitor I met, as her table was conveniently located right next to mine. O’Sugar is based out of New Hampshire. You can currently order treats from O’Sugar online, but Michelle, the baker, is hoping to open up a shop within the next year. The raspberry shortcakes above as well as the treats below were among Michelle’s offerings at the show.

Cookie cake sandwiches – cake and frosting sandwiched between cookies

Strawberry cupcakes

The vanilla bean cupcake was delicious and one of my favorite treats from the showcase, sweet, buttery, and fluffy.

 

A longtime favorite of mine, I was thrilled that Kickass Cupcakes was at the showcase. Sara of Kickass brought a huge assortment of minis with her including fun flavors like the Lucky, s’mores, and caramel apple, which I saw in the store for the first time last week. A longer post about Kickass is coming soon.

Another of the best cupcakes I tried came from Sweet Alternatives. A chai cupcake with salted buttercream frosting. I will be very excited to have them at CupcakeCamp.

They brought other treats including root beer, bubblegum, and coffee-flavored meringues, orange mascarpone cake, chocolate cupcake with sambuca frosting,

and a vegan peanut butter cupcake with grape jelly frosting.

Strawberry Hill Confectionery makes sweet treats and teas using high-quality ingredients like maple syrup. Their “whirl ease,” which look like a lollipop, are meant to be stirred and dissolved into hot tea.

They also make whirl ease with both the tea and sweetener, so all you need is hot water.

Yvette Taylor, aka Queen of the Pantry, brought these adorable CupCookies with her to display.

I was a big fan of the cinnamon spiced nuts with chocolate and butterscotch chips. They were just a little sweet and were a nice break from the overall sugar rush of the day. Yvette makes savory products including dukkah and jams.

Chocolates provided by Anthem Entertainment

Mumbai Chopstix was serving a mango panna cotta with a fried honey-soaked wheat ball. I am a big fan of anything mango. The panna cotta was smooth, light and not too sweet.

I had heard much acclaim about Chilly Cow‘s frozen custard before the event. I had also seen it in several stores around the area. Frozen custard really is distinct from ice cream. To say it is richer than ice cream would not be accurate. If you taste it, its name makes sense though. It tastes like a custard, only frozen.

Stay tuned for part 2…

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8 Responses to New England Dessert Showcase 2010 – Part 1

  1. Bridget says:

    I felt exactly the same way about the cramped-ness of the space and the harried nature of the presenters; I emailed the organizers about my concerns, and hopefully they’ll have a much larger space next year; I went at noon and feel like I missed half of the tables that you mentioned above! Too bad, that’s for sure.

  2. Cheryl says:

    As a professional I found the whole set-up and presentation a total waste of my time! Too many people and cupcakes! It was nice to see your pictures because I certainly didn’t see most of what you have featured. It was a poorly organized event and I wrote the promotion group and told them so! I felt badly for those people who not only snaked through the mall but out the door as well. I am though looking forward to a “Cupcake Camp”

  3. Helen Groussis says:

    Very disappointing. We arrived at 2 and were told it was a 1 plus hour wait. What I saw was a very messy room, and more lineups and very little sample left. Total waste of our time.

  4. Jessica Owen says:

    The lines were a bit long, but the walk-up traffic seemed to be a giant culprit. I was one of those caught up in that. But I still say this was worth it and then some. As the author of the piece said, this is challenging to coordinate something on this scale. We can all be arm-chair quarterbacks but we don’t really know what was going on. I do know the event was worth the wait, minus the crowd it was even better than 2009 (and I loved last year’s) and I suspect they will nail it right on in 2011. I am looking forward to it.

  5. Milo says:

    I think the phrase waste of time is a bit strong to the previous commenter. Everyone can sit on the sideline and try to bash an event. Nothing ever runs perfectly. To give my perspective, I was there at 4:00pm and there was plenty of food remaining. To anyone looking to gorge themselves, go elsewhere. To anyone who treats an event like this as it is supposed to be treated – this was phenomenal. I think its hysterical that people are bent out of shape over not being able to spend three solid hours stuffing their face. And I think its sad that some people at the event managed to do just that.

    The bottom line, don’t be so nasty with your comments. The public is largely to blame for any uncomfortableness you experienced. I found the event to be fine. It was great in 2009 and I missed most of it this year but I am looking forward to the next one. This company also does projects that make this dessert showcase look like child’s play if you check out their portfolio. Why this event got so crowded then – I don’t know. But it wasn’t nor will be the end of the world. Here’s to all of the non complainers that had a good time!

  6. Pamela B says:

    Personally, I had a great experience at the showcase! I arrived around 11:30, there was a HUGE line, of course, but that just goes to show how much excitement the event had behind it. I believe that this showcase had an excellent concept..We all have sweet tooths, right? So why not bring in the best exhibitors from across New England for all of Boston to enjoy? They had a HUGE boston creme pie which was hilarious and a variety of excellent exhibitors, I understand that most of you did not get in, which stinks! I own a business myself and have attended Anthem events for quite a while and can’t help to see this from a business perspective…. this showcase is an excellent concept ..however, only problem was, is that there was WAY too many people flowing in at once! Instead of bashing Anthem for catching the attention of so many maybe we should all have some constructive criticism for them so we can ALL enjoy a spectacular showcase next year. I have been to numerous events of theirs and met so many staff members. They are 100% dedicated to delivering an enjoyable entertainment experience for their customers…do you all honestly think that this is what they intended for you all to experience? NO WAY…all they wanted to do was bring an exquisite and delightful experience to boston, where something like this is unique…the staff was very overwhelmed that day as well because there was so much going on, I was observing it all. I was floating around for the whole day and came in early and came back around 4. I couldn’t believe how crazy it got. However, they DID offer refunds for those of you who did not get in…which is fairly reasonable i would say…..and I wouldn’t personally complain if i was getting a refund anyways. Also, from my understanding, living social and groupon were 3rd party websites that advertised the wrong times and probably did not track how many tickets they were selling off their website as long as they were making money themselves…that could be a major reason as to why this event was so overbooked…so we can’t blame Anthem fully…People were also taking WAY too many samples…Regardless, I had a great time and am looking forward to next year’s showcase and hope you all can have an enjoyable experience there as well since there will definitely be improvements so that everyone can get in and enjoy everything!

  7. Pingback: We Make Cupcakes | Free Food Boston

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