Salt Lake Community College Culinary Arts student Alisha Valdez read and liked the E.L. James book 50 Shades of Grey, but how to make a cake based on the book for the College’s annual Edible Books Contest was somewhat of a mystery.
Valdez turned to, where else, Google for ideas. So-called “man cakes” kept popping up, so, she went for it.
“I read the book. I loved it,” Valdez said. “It was my first idea, so, I said ‘I’m going for it.’ It is a bold entry, and I knew everyone was doing kids’ cakes.”
The result was a headless torso of a man made of yellow cake, which included the pectorals and six-pack abs, with a maple butter cream and raspberry filling. Even the handcuffs were edible. Her efforts landed Valdez the Most Humorous prize.
Former SLCC Culinary Institute Director Ricco Renzetti, a certified executive chef who wore his 1996 “Chef of the Year” medal on his lapel, was one of the five judges at the Markosian Library for viewing and tasting.
“Form and function are the two things a judge always look for,” Renzetti said. “It’s better to take on something more basic and have excellent execution than to take on something hard and have mediocre execution. That’s a hard one to teach students – I did it for 20 years.”
Before judging began he and fellow judge, daughter Kara Renzetti, a professional baker herself, were already partial to Carol Acevedo’s “The Woman in Black” entry.
“I like the creepiness, just like my dad,” Renzetti’s daughter said.
Acevedo’s cake won Most Artistic. She regularly seeks out books in the mystery and paranormal genres.
“It was a really good, scary book,” she said about Susan Hill’s novel. “I loved it.”
And she loved putting together the cake, taking about three hours to paint a Barbie doll a ghostly white, surrounded by a black dress made of devil’s food cake, topped by frosting dyed black.
Other cakes took much longer to make, like Super Heroes fan Marissa Muhlestein’s “Avengers” entry, clocking in at about 10 hours, which is about how long it took Keri Gukeisen to make her “Cat in the Hat” cake.
“I have been a huge Doctor Seuss fan my entire life,” said Gukeisen, who was happy to recite several lines from Seuss’s The Sneetches. “’Then, of course from then on, as you probably guess, things really got into a horrible mess.’”
The annual contest is open to current students, staff, faculty and administrators at the College. This year’s winners were Acevedo, Valdez, Alondra Garcia (People’s Choice Award for “Frozen”), Katie Lapp (Most Edible for “Curious Geogre”) and Lori Tucker (Most Literary for “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy/Towel”).