Winners Announced For Lighthouse Cake-Off Competition
Six local bakers vied for top honors Friday night, July 1, in the 1st Lighthouse Cake-off Competition at the Custom House Maritime Museum, 150 Bank Street, New London. The bakers were commissioned by the New London Maritime Society (NLMS) to create cakes representing six different local lighthouses (lighthouse selection was made by drawing names out of a hat). Louise Pittaway, a local friend to lighthouses, who recently retired after 35 years as curator at the Stonington Historical Society's Old Lighthouse Museum, was juror for the first award: Overall Artistic Merit. However, finding that each cake was so distinct and possessing of such original character, Ms. Pitttaway refused to make a decision, saying all the cakes were wonderful!
That left the decision to the Public, which got to taste all the cakes and vote in four different categories: Best Lighthouse, Best Taste, Most Imaginative, and Best Overall. They were not shy with their opinions. The event was free and open to the public and was very well-attended; more than 50 ballots were cast.
Charlene Lidquest, The Cake Lady, won in three of four categories for her show-stopping rendition of New London Ledge Light set amidst a massive sea of mini cupcakes. Charlene was awarded Best Lighthouse, Most Imaginative, and Best Overall for her creation. In fact, two days before the competition, Ms Lidquest visited the Custom House Maritime Museum to do additional research on her lighthouse subject, saying, "Cakes are what I do--I have to create something spectacular!"
Bruno Mella & Lindsay Kreutter, of Chaplin's, presenting Noank's Morgan Point Light, won in one of four categories--that of Best Tasting cake. Bruno, soon to return home to England, was the last baker to join the competition. He said he decided to participate as a celebration of his time as dessert chef at Chaplin's restaurant on Bank StreeT. Bruno then invited Lindsay Kreutter, a recent pastry-chef graduate, to help create the cake, and they spent 10 hours Friday on their jewel-like creation of Morgan Point Light. The elaborate cake, encased with tiny squares of home-make coconut cookie to depict the lighthouse's granite exterior, had ten different layers inside and an overall peppermint flavor. Lindsay & members of her family were on hand at the competition to hand out samples and explain the subtleties of the cake to the crowd.
Four additional bakeries took part in the competition:
Elisa Giommi, Mangetout, LLC, created a gluten-free New London Harbor Light, a close runner-up in Best-Tasting category.
Araminta Poole, Minta's Sweet Treats, LLC, made a sturdy Avery Point Light, which by all accounts was Most Adorable of the entries.
Erica Suffoletto & Gabriella Hartman, Mystic Market, created an impressive Mystic Seaport Light in seven layers of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting -- a close 2nd in the categories of Best Lighthouse and Best Tasting.
Genie MacCracken, Upper Deck Cafe, was the last to deliver her cake at about 7 PM on Friday, just minutes before the competition began. Genie's winsome Stonington Harbor Light was a close runner-up in the Most Imaginative category .
Congratulations to all our Bakers for a truly memorable evening.
Photos of ALL THE CAKES, before & after, can be seen HERE.
Also that evening, author Todd Gipstein spoke about his new novel, a historical thriller, Legacy of the Light. Three lighthouse exhibitions opened at the Custom House Maritime Museum:an exhibition of watercolors of area lighthouses by Pat Kelbaugh of Niantic in the museum's Maritime Gallery; Lighthouses in the Frank L. McGuire Maritime Research Library Collection, a display of manuscripts and books, curated by NLMS librarian Brian Rogers; and Sentinels on the Sound, a new exhibition on local lighthouses, in the Custom House Maritime Museum Ingoldsby Work Crawford Gallery. In fact, several of the objects on display in the library and Crawford Gallery exhibitions are letters written to and by Ingoldsby Work Crawford, himself; Mr Crawford was the New London US Customs Collector in the first half of the 19th century. At that time, US Customs was in charge of all area lighthouses. Mr Crawford's letters detail the day-to-day activities necessary to maintain the lights and their keepers, and also provide information about the construction of new lighthouses at Morgan Point and Old Saybrook.
We also honored Louise Pittaway for her near-four decades of creative and heart-felt service to the cultural community and--in particular--to nurturing area lighthouses.
It was all part of Sentinels on the Sound - New London's Lighthouse weekend, which was made possible by a generous grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council*.
For more information about the Lighthouse Cake-Off and Sentinels on the Sound, please call 860-447-2501 or visit the website at nlmaritimesociety.org. High-resolutions images are available.