Hy-Vee’s regional and final contests this year have gotten a lot of attention from local press reporting on the event and profiling local winners and their cake creations.
Byington said that Ruth Comer, assistant vice president of media relations, reaches out to newspapers, radio stations and news stations where the regional and final contests are held to promote the contest in the local community.
As for the buzz this contest and outreach has created, Byington called it “awesome.”
“Because we’re a department inside of the grocery store, we don’t get a whole lot of exposure. Even as far as the grocery store print ad goes, we are in a very small section of that, usually. So this kind of attention is just huge and … just very prideful for us.”
In addition to bringing attention to the cake designers, Byington called the competition incredible training.
“It gives [the designers] an opportunity to see designers from all over the company that they would not normally ever see without this contest,” he said.
“And they can talk to each other, learn from each other, take pictures, take notes. And then, they can go back and work on the things that they see other designers are capable of that they may or may not be, and work on those things for the future.”
Third-place winner Janine Schwendinger, cake designer at Hy-Vee in Rochester, Minn., agreed.
Participating in the contests is “very helpful because I get to meet up with the best decorators in Hy-Vee, and I always come away with really good ideas,” she said.
Schwendinger developed an under-the-sea theme, including a rainbow-colored, hand-painted fish on a tier cake, coral on a one-tier cake, hermit crab cookies, a shark half-sheet cake, and cupcakes with 3D palm trees.
The sea theme grew out of Schwendinger’s idea to work with an octopus.
“I knew that I wanted to do an octopus for one of my cakes because I have been practicing with 3D sculpting in fondant. And I thought it would be really neat to kind of make the eyeballs 3D and kind of sculpt out some eyebrows,” she said.
This year’s first place winner, Amy Murtha from the Belton, Mo. Hy-Vee, was appreciative of all the talent and different creative cakes at the competition.
“There [were] just tons and tons of ideas there and just crazy looking cakes, just great looking,” she said.
“I’d like to be able to use some of the cakes here at the store just for birthday cakes and stuff like that,” Murtha said, noting that she thinks sharing ideas is part of the purpose of the contest.