Friday, September 24, 2010

CupcakeCamp DC

I went to CupcakeCamp DC last Saturday. It was, in a word, a clusterf*ck. Pardon my French, but it's totally true.

This place was packed tighter than a Japanese subway train.

It was held at a place in DC called Funxion, touted as the first FIT restaurant and bar in America. Really? A low-cal health bar selected as the venue for CupcakeCamp DC (a.k.a. I Eat My Feelings Anonymous)?? Wouldn't have been my first choice, but I guess it was, like, the only thing available last minute. The place was pretty small, which on a normal day would be fine, being as it serves the "I know I look good when I'm so hungry I'm dry heaving" crowd, hence the close quarters.

This was CupcakeCamp DC's first year, so there's bound to be some gliches, but when cupcakes fans start bum rushing your volunteers, you got a problem, okay?? Frankly, I couldn't wait to be out of there. I don't think I was alone either, as the organizer herself owned up to some of the problems on the CupcakeCamp blog. 

I could have overlooked most of that if the cupcakes had been worth shoving my fellow cupcake fans for, but sadly most that I sampled (i.e., took one bite of and never touched again) were terrible. 

Just some of the wounded soldiers I left behind

Do I feel bad about wasting so much food when there are so many starving people in the world? No, are you kidding me? Those people's lives are bad enough...the last thing they need is a feebly iced cupcake from a mix, or a leathery mini vegan cupcake. I did humanity a favor and I'll hear nothing else on the matter!

There were certainly some stand-outs, including the ultimate winner of the cupcake contest Rene of Rene Takes the Cake:
This was when I accosted Rene and forced her to take a picture
as I shoved the cupcake she made in her face. She was a real sport. 

Despite the chaos and overwhelmingly terrible cupcakes (there were well over 50 different types of cupcakes), I held out hope for the judging segment, 'cus you know, I'm a boss at cupcake making. I made two varieties: Cupcake Camp-fire S'mores and Homemade Funfetti.

A graham cracker crusted chocolate cupcake with mini marshmallows baked in,
topped with marshmallow frosting and a square of graham cracker

Vanilla cake dotted with rainbow sprinkles,topped with
vanilla buttercreams tinted blue and pink and rainbow sprinkles

Shockingly, neither of my cupcakes proved victorious. In related news, CupcakeCamp's organizer's mom took home the second place prize and her boyfriend's mom tied for first. I don't want to say that there was any cheating going on, but I'm pretty sure there was some cheating going on. Well, that, and I think the judges palettes were off. Plus, they only sampled about 1/12 of each cupcake (they basically licked the frosting), so I can't see how they were able to make a truly educated decision.

There were five judges and between them they didn't even sample half of a cupcake

I did my own sampling as well:

This strawberry vanilla cupcake was definitely the best mini I had

This hot mess was a hybrid between a German chocolate cupcake
and a cinnamon roll; it was a complete disaster

This blueberry apricot cupcake topped with cream cheese frosting and thyme was more of a muffin than a cupcake, but took home the Crowd Favorite award. It was delicious, I'll admit

Another mini, this time chocolate with a cream cheese swirl, dark chocolate
ganache sprinkled with edible glitter and a fondant flower. It was beautiful but
suffered the same fate as most of the minis I had that day: overcooked and tough

The overall judges winner, Rene's Chocolate Covered Strawberry: Chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate ganache, topped with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, a chocolate covered strawberry drizzled with pink candy and adorned with a gumpaste flower. Yes, it was amazeballs 2024 and yes, it deserved to beat even my amazing cupcakes.

So I have a few final suggestions for next year's CupcakeCamp:

1.) Larger venue, clearly
2.) Stations for cupcake bakers to display their bounty individually and have tasters come to them.
3.) Judges that like to experiment with unique ingredients/flavors (I read two separate blog posts from the judges--one is a vegan and admitted picky eater and the other didn't like the goat cheese frosting attempted by one baker)
4.) Different categories for judging (Tastiest Cupcake, Best Presentation, Most Outrageous Ingredient, etc.)
5.) More stuff to do--there was a lot of waiting around for those of us unimpressed with the sampling of cupcakes and awaiting the judging. How about bringing in some cupcake shop owners in next year to do little workshops for cupcake decorating or vendors selling cupcake related goods or a face painter!!! Everyone loves a good face painter.

Anyway, I'll go back next year, but it better be as a judge. These people need some help, desperately.

I'll be posting my cupcake recipes later, cus Kyle's pretty annoyed I've done nothing but ignore him for the past hour.

In the meantime, these pictures ought to tide you over:


Joelle said...

your s'more one looks AWESOME!

A Bitchin' Kitchen said...

I could not agree with you more about this event. Your cupcakes were gorgeous (especially the Funfetti one) but they didn't even make it to where my boyfriend and I were sitting near the front of the venue.

I'm almost scared to ask what you thought of my cupcakes since I'm definitely a novice baker, but if you have any input I'd love to hear it! (I made the dark chocolate with peanut butter frosting)

I really like your blog and am looking forward to trying your recipes!


Rene said...

Thanks for the shout out Melissa! It was nice to meet you at the event - one of the few highlights!

I would love to share one of your recipes as a Tasty Thursday feature on my blog. Would you mind? I did not get to try the funfetti as I was not as savage as some of the guests of the event but I did manage to get a S'mores to split with my friend and it was ah-mazing! I'd love to know how to make that marshmallow frosting!

Please let me know if you'd be willing to have your recipe posted on my page - I would love to have it for this week!



CupcakesOMG! said...

Hey Maggie,

I just checked out the pics on your blog and your cupcake looks amazing (including the recipe), but I did not get to try it.

From the recipe you posted, it sounds like it was probably delicious.

We should really start up that DC cupcake meet up again, dontcha think??

Rene, I just emailed you about Tasty Thursday--would absolutely love to contribute!

Peace and Cupcakes,

Olga said...

I was one of the judges. Let me tell you a few things:
1) We definitely tasted more than just the frosting.
2) There was ZERO cheating! Just because you did not win, there is no need to accuse us of cheating.
3) Your cupcakes were some of my least favorite. The funfetti one was incredibly dense and dry. The second one had a strange popcorn flavor aftertaste, but it did look pretty.
4) I honestly doubt you'll be invited to be a judge next year after all the snooty and mean comments you've made.

CupcakesOMG! said...


You seem really upset...was it something I said?

How dare you accuse me of making snooty comments! The intended sentiment was snarky!!!

Look, I was just being honest. And I'm not the only one who seemed to feel that way (please see above comments and CupcakeCamp DC blog)

I think it's pretty clear I'm capable of being unbiased, when I want to be (i.e., admittance that Rene's cupcake deserved to win). But let's face it, the organizer's mother and boyfriend's mother DID place.

You know those radio contests when they give away free Lady Gaga tickets the night of her show after they sold out in the first 20 minutes of being released? You know how there's always a disclaimer about if you or someone in your family work for Clear Channel or (fill in the blank media conglomerate here) you're not allowed to win? Well, it's to avoid favoritism, or at the VERY least, the appearance thereof. That's my point. Reeee-lax.

I'd also be curious if you've ever heard of sarcasm? I mean, dear god, do you even find Amy Sedaris funny??? I couldn't fathom such a reality...I'll pray for you.

Georgia said...

there's quite a few things I love about Miss Melissa and her blog and while I don't want to have to pick a favorite - her writing style might be the #1. Her cupcakes are amaaaaazing as well, do not misunderstand, but because I can't be near her everyday chomping on her delicious treats, I have to read about them here. And read I DO!!! Her sarcasm and wit and humor - this blog has it all. And honesty is what makes me trust her as a writer, a critique, and a friend. She wasn't the only one who had a problem with the event and she only voices her thoughts and opinions to make this world a better place. I believe Olga took that to the next level with her rude retort...just saying...

Olga you can have a coke. Or six.

Michelle at Hey Love Designs said...

I think you should probably get your facts straight before you make assumptions on people and the event itself. I thought both of your cupcakes looked wonderful and while some people loved the flavors, some didn't, but it wasn't enough for you to place.

The so called "picky vegan judge"

Anna said...

I was also in attendance at CupcakeCamp and can confirm the contest was rigged. Denying that now is absurd. I'm just happy to see someone telling it like it is for once. Those judges are total megalomaniacs that need a reality check. I'm not surprised they are writing off the constructive criticism as "snooty and mean". After all, this is CUPCAKE CAMP not CAMP CUPCAKE. Guess I should start trying to get my son to date Olga, maybe I'll take home 3rd next year. PS, funfetti is always delicious!!!

Michelle at Hey Love Designs said...

Oh yea, as for your note of not having family members compete (like radio contests), I see that as fair suggestion, however, none of us knew any of the competitors were related to the organizers.

Joelle said...

Is this the part where you reinvent TLC's Cupcake Wars as a reality show starring Melissa, the misunderstood cupcake blogger who offended the Cupcake Alliance and is now climbing her way out of Cupcake Social Suicide?

I'd surely tune in for that! :D

CupcakesOMG! said...

I'm not against a reality show Joelle!!

I think of it less as cupcake social suicide (I don't know these people, after all) and more of being the Perez Hilton of cupcakes. You either love me or hate me, but either way, I always tell it like it is.

And because I love Lady Gaga.

Megan R. said...

This is a really funny comment thread. Yeah, so the cupcake contest wasn't perfect, but instead of just being hilariously funny in criticizing it, Melissa has given some very valid suggestions for next year. Come on, "Eat My Feelings Anonymous"? I would wear a shirt with that slogan on it. She's entitled to her opinion, and obviously the judges weren't so committed to their roles to not weirdly defend themselves in blog comments. Takes some of the validity out of your decisions, wouldn't you say? Cupcakes are clearly becoming the new toddler beauty pageants....and I LOVE IT.

Unknown said...

Melissa, your cupcakes were for sure some of the best. Plus I doubt any of the rest of the contestants have a blog as good as Cupcakes OMG. It's an opinion - chilax people!!

Unknown said...

Great write up, Melissa! Funny, snarky, and with constructive comments on how they can improve next year. I hope they take your advice... or at least lighten up a bit.

We've got a Cupcake Camp coming up in November - here's hoping ours is a little more organized and a little less rigged. ;)

Anonymous said...

I wish I got the chance to meet you at the event, Melissa... (a thousand years later) However, the strawberry vanilla cupcake with the silver dragees is mine! Thanks for the review...I appreciate it more than you know. xo

Jenna | The Eighty Twenty said...

Just stumbled across this in the archives, read it and the entire comment thread. Took up a good portion of my morning. Why can't all your posts be this controversially amazing!!! effing OLGA

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