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Cakewalk brings out top chefs to benefit Share Our Strength

Share Our Strength hosts annual Cakewalk to end childhood hunger
Share Our Strength hosts annual Cakewalk to end childhood hunger
Photo courtesy Kris Hase


It was an evening of elegance and pastries. Share Our Strength, whose goal is to end childhood hunger, gathered many of the finest chefs in the cities to put on their annual benefit. The gala was presented by Michelle Gayer, James Beard Award nominee and owner of the acclaimed Salty Tart Bakery, in partnership with James Beard Award winner Tim McKee of La Belle Vie. With that kind of clout, you can expect that many other tastemakers answered the call to provide dishes at this sweet event.


The first bite we sampled was a a puffy, crunchy pork rind dipped in curried white chocolate from chef Erick Harcey of Victory 44 and the newly opened Parka.


Sheela Namakkal, cupcake queen
Sheela Namakkal, cupcake queen
Photo courtesy Kris Hase


Next to him was Sheela Namakkal, the onetime chef of the departed Cake Eater Bakery. She's landed at World Street Kitchen and was serving her special brand of beauties -- cupcakes with a Hostess Twinkie turn. Flanking her was the gorgeous Miss Foxy Falafel herself, Erica Strait. She hadn't even officially cooked for the event and was just lending a touch of her glamor to the night.

View of the Aria VIP space
View of the Aria VIP space
Photo courtesy Kris Hase


The Aria at Jeune Lune space was stunning. The chandeliers glimmered against the exposed brick walls. On the stage were the objects of everyone's affection, the cakes. Prepared by the Salty Tart, Betty Crocker, Zoe Francois (of Tilia), Nadia Cakes, Cocoa & Fig, PangCakes, Sweet Retreat, Cafe Latte, Wuollet, and Krista Steinbach (of the Bachelor Farmer).

Guests purchased raffle tickets for a chance to walk for the cakes.

Jeff Bridges cares
Jeff Bridges cares
Photo courtesy Kris Hase


At the back of the room, above it all, was the VIP area. From below it was easy to see the goings on, but only those who purchased VIP tickets were able to join chef Peter Botcher of the Butcher & the Boar for their garlicky, snappy, spicy sausages served with beans and crunchy, cool coleslaw. VIPs were also treated to bourbon tastings.

Those below weren't left dry, however. Mix master Johnny Michaels of La Belle Vie was pouring a special drink, as were three other craft cocktail makers.

There was no shortage of sweets. Anne Rucker of Bogart Loves had made miniature versions of her doughnuts. The entire top team from La Belle Vie was also in attendance to serve pastry chef Diane Yang's stunning creations. Bill Summerville poured glasses of sweet bubbles. Nicki Francioli of Sea Change was at the next table. There were pastries from the award-winning Khan Tran of Cosmos, Union, Yum!, Bars Bakery, Angel Food Bakery, Restaurant Alma, the Lynn on Bryant, Red Stag, and more. 

Meanwhile, Chowgirls catering circled the crowds with small, savory bites to balance the sugar rush.

The stage is set for the Cakewalk
The stage is set for the Cakewalk
Photo courtesy Kris Hase


MyTalk 107.1's Weekly Dish radio hosts Stephanie Hansen and Stephanie March emceed as the Cakewalk commenced. Hansen performed a lively jig of encouragement as the number of walkers dwindled.

Michelle Gayer, Stephanie Hansen, Tim McKee, and Stephanie March called the cake winners
Michelle Gayer, Stephanie Hansen, Tim McKee, and Stephanie March called the cake winners
Photo courtesy Kris Hase


In the end, bellies were satisfied, but the winner was Minnesota's children. It was a dazzling evening of sweet glamor that hopefully brings us one step closer to banishing childhood hunger.

Salty Tart's 50 Shades of Gray cake went home with some lucky lover
Salty Tart's 50 Shades of Gray cake went home with some lucky lover
Photo courtesy Kris Hase



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