$10,000 for the Food Bank
Love and cupcakes: Houston's first CoupleCake Wars are a perfect match
Lovers of love and cupcakes collided at the first-ever CoupleCake Wars competition at Sprinkles.
Seven Houston couples were selected to compete in a three-part competition testing their teamwork, communication and cupcake baking and decorating skills in the Sprinkles parking lot Saturday. With emcee Cleverley Stone cracking up the overflow crowd, the first round consisted of a Newlywed-style game that tested couples' knowledge of each other, including whether their partner prefers cake or frosting, what Food Network personality they are more like and what flavor of cupcake they couldn't live without.
The quiz portion was won, fittingly, by CoupleCake's only newlyweds, Kasey and Chad Long.
Next came a cupcake icing competition with a twist — the icer was blindfolded and given instructions to try and recreate the Sprinkles look by their teammate. The crowd favorite was that of Regan Nguyen and Kathleen Nguyen (who brought along a significant cheering section) but the panel of judges, including Houston singer Katie Stuckey, celebrity stylist Cerón and Sprinkles Cupcakes founder and Cupcake Wars TV show judge Candace Nelson, chose the almost store-ready version from the team of Melissa Smith and Rick Luckett. (We say "almost" because Melissa confessed a lot of the frosting spreading and smoothing was done with her fingers.)
In the final, most important part of the competition, contestants decorated two dozen of their baked-at-home cupcakes and created elaborate presentations with love themes.
The gourmet cupcakes included a cocoa cake with Italian meringue buttercream frosting with a bit of mint by Nick Espinosa and Carlos Meltzer, a vegan strawberry version from Robin Woodbury and Mitchell Parker, Michael and Rachel Smith's double chocolate cupcake with salted caramel and sea salt and Kathleen and Reagan's vanilla cupcake with Maker's Mark, maple syrup and bacon.
Presentations included visual themes like an adorable "vintage Valentine" set up by Haley Glasco and Kyle Ogle, as well as some that were more personal, like Kathleen and Reagan's Rice Krispies bingo board created to symbolize their meeting at a bingo event.
But the winners of both the cupcake portion and the overall competition were Rick and Melissa, who created a presentation themed around perfect matches (including a giant Valentine's matchbox) that drew on their own history, meeting on the dating website Match.com. They crafted a quartet of cupcakes that reflected this theme, including a sandwich-like peanut butter and jelly, coffee and donuts, red wine and chocolate (symbolized by a red velvet cupcake with chocolate ganache) and a truly original chicken and waffles cupcake.
But really, everyone left the CoupleCake day winners, including each couple, who took home gift certificates to some of Houston's best restaurants; the audience, which sampled the cupcake from both the competitors and Sprinkles; and the Houston Food Bank. The Food Bank was presented with a $10,000 check by Sprinkles owners Charles and Candace Nelson, based on sales of a Food Bank-branded vanilla cupcake.
Now that's sweet.