How do you judge six versions of a traditional French cake which you've had maybe once in anything resembling its authentic form? We're not entirely sure, but we did it anyway yesterday as one of five judges for the Buche de noel competition for Cafe des Architectes' Holiday Rock & Roll event, benefiting Share Our Strength. Buche de noel, or Yule Log, is a traditional holiday cake in the shape of a log. Our fellow judges included two other media folk (Louisa Chu of WBEZ and Laura Baginski of Time Out Chicago), as well as two professionals Bob Hartwig of Lovely Bakeshop and Peter Yuen of Patisserie P. We evaluated six cakes by noted pastry chefs, judging them anonymously and not only by the flavor but by the creativity of their play on the traditional log theme. In addition to the winner we chose, attendees at the event got to taste and choose their own favorite (not the same as ours, though one we personally had rated highly as well). See the gorgeous cakes and who won in our slideshow, below.
Contestant #1: buche de Noel by Amanda Rockman, The Bristol.
#2: by Michelle Garcia, Bleeding Heart Bakery (okay, we kinda guessed that was who this one was from).
#3: by Celeste Campise, Spiaggia.
#4: by Jove Hubbard, David Burke's Primehouse.
#5: by Greg Mosko, North Pond.
#6: by Elisa Narow, Perennial Virant/Vie.
Fellow judge Louisa Chu, hard at work.
Sofitel pastry chef Patrick Fahy chats with Michelle Garcia of Bleeding Heart Bakery.
One of Elisa Narow's assistants adds cream to the slices for the guests.
And the judges' choice is... North Pond! Pastry chef Greg Mosko is at right, holding one of his assistants.
While the people's choice is Spiaggia. Celeste Campise is at right, while Top Chef contestant Sarah Grueneberg is at left.
Mouse n snail detail from North Pond's winning cake.
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