Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™
at
That Takes the Cake, Austin, 2023

General Information and Requirements

JULIA M. USHER’S COOKIE ART COMPETITION™ FEES
2D and 3D Registration ends 2/20/2022
Click here to Register Online (You will still need to bring your completed entry form)
$25 – includes up to 2 entries, additional entries $10 each

Classifications

  • Open to teens and adults, anyone 13 years of age or older. (For competitors under 18, competition registration includes general admission for the competitor and one accompanying adult.)
  • NEW THIS YEAR: Two skills-based classifications in each category, as defined below (be sure to circle the correct classification and category on your entry form):
      • Advanced/Master: Sugar artists with five (5) or more years of cookie decorating experience and/or those recognized as having advanced cookie decorating skills or mastery of cookie decorating techniques. Also includes all cookie decorating instructors and anyone who has placed in any cookie competition in the past. Can include either hobbyists or those who work professionally in cookie decorating.
      • Beginner/Intermediate: Sugar artists with less than five (5) years of cookie decorating experience who are developing their skills. Also includes anyone who does not fit the “Advanced/Master” description above. Can include either hobbyists or those who work professionally in cookie decorating, as long as the individual is not a cookie decorating instructor.

Categories

  • 2-D/Flat CookieA single large flat decorated cookie OR a collection of flat decorated cookies (no maximum cookie count) arranged laying down, artistically, and also minimally overlapping, so that the decorative details on each cookie can be seen without the judges moving cookies. (By “flat”, we mean the cookies themselves must be flat; they can be decorated with icing and other media to create added dimension.) The entire entry must be no smaller than 1 x 1-foot (30 x 30-cm) and no bigger than 3 x 3-foot (91 x 91-cm). These measurements relate to the cookie or cookie composition and exclude any inedible baseboard.
  • 3-D CookieA multi-cookie construction, where decorated cookies are arranged in any orientation and pieced together to create a freestanding, dimensional piece of cookie art. A minimum of 12 decorated cookies must comprise this construction; there is no maximum cookie count. The cookies in the entry needn’t be flat; they can also be contoured, embossed, molded, modeled, sculpted, or otherwise shaped. The entire entry must fit into a 2 x 2 x 3-foot-tall (61 x 61 x 91-cm-tall, L x W x H) area. The entry may be smaller than this area, but it cannot be larger. Again, these dimensions relate to the cookie structure and exclude any inedible baseboard. Important: A 3-D cookie is not a flat cookie onto which royal icing has been pressure-piped or added as a transfer to create dimension. Likewise, a 3-D cookie is not a flat cookie onto which molded or modeled fondant (or some other decorating medium) has been added for dimension. Cookies of these descriptions should be placed in the 2-D Cookie category.

Judging System

  • Scored on a 70-point system for 2-D/Flat Cookie; 90-point system for 3-D Cookie; see “Judging Criteria” below for details.
  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will be chosen for each skill level classification within each category. So twelve (12) prizes in total will be awarded. The Kerry Vincent Best in Show Award will also be given to the one entry (across all categories and skill levels) that most impressed the judges because of its technical superiority, powerful messaging, and/or innovation.
  • Each entrant will receive a score card with judges’ comments at the conclusion of the show.

Prizes

As always, ample cash prizes and gift certificates will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in each category/classification. These prizes will be announced in January 2022.

Scoring for 2-D/Flat Cookie Category

(10 points awarded across each of 7 criteria for a total of 70 points)
  1. Interpretation of theme: Broadway & Musicals (Think out of the box; judges often prefer theme interpretations that are personal or unpredictable, or that tell a story through the relationship of cookies in the piece.)
  2. Number and difficulty of decorating techniques used (Decorating techniques include, but are not limited to, outlining/flooding, dipping, dimensional pressure piping, wet-on-wet/marbling, stenciling, airbrushing, painting, stamping, fondant work, edible paper work, isomalt, etc.)
  3. Mastery of techniques used
  4. Cleanliness of icing/covering and cookies
  5. Originality of cookie designs (Copies of copyrighted material of any kind – characters, logos, others’ original art, etc. – are not allowed.)
  6. Setup/display (Edible plates, platters, or other display pieces will be awarded more points.)
  7. Overall appeal

Scoring for 3-D Cookie Category

(10 points awarded across each of 9 criteria for a total of 90 points)
  1. Interpretation of theme: Broadway & Musicals (Think out of the box; judges often prefer theme interpretations that are personal or unpredictable, or that tell a story through the relationship of cookies in the piece.)
  2. Number and difficulty of decorating techniques used (Decorating techniques include, but are not limited to, outlining/flooding, dipping, dimensional pressure piping, wet-on-wet/marbling, stenciling, airbrushing, painting, stamping, fondant work, edible paper work, isomalt, etc.)
  3. Number and difficulty of construction techniques used (Construction techniques include, but are not limited to, contouring dough, embossing or molding dough, stacked or sandwiched 3-D constructions, 3-D mitered corner constructions, cookies on sticks, etc.)
  4. Mastery of decorating and construction techniques used
  5. Cleanliness of individual cookie elements and 3-D construction
  6. Scale, balance, and viewability of 3-D construction (from all angles)
  7. Originality of design (Copies of copyrighted material of any kind – characters, logos, others’ original art, etc. – are not allowed.)
  8. Setup/display (Edible plates, platters, or other display pieces will be awarded more points.)
  9. Overall appeal 

General Rules for All Cookie Categories

  • Registration must be completed and paid for by midnight on February 16, 2023; no entries will be accepted after that time.
  • All entrants must check in at the registration desk before being escorted to the competition display area.
  • There is no limit on the number of entries per person.
  • Upon arrival at the show, each entry will receive an identification number that will be attached to the cookie display base to assist in judging. 
  • Entrants must submit a completed entry form that contains the entrant’s identification number, category, skill classification, theme interpretation, description of techniques used, and a minimum of three work-in-process photos, among other things. The entrant’s entry number must also be written on his/her folder of “Judging Information” and each page in that folder. (See entry form for details.)
  • Absolutely no other identifying markings should be on or near the entry. (i.e., no personal names of entrants, business names, logos, business cards, etc.). Likewise, the entrant must maintain the anonymity of his/her entry until judging is complete (i.e., entrant cannot display entry on social media or show entry to judges in advance).
  • The entry must be made, in it’s entirety, by the entrant. Faux or store-bought cookies or icing cannot be used. No one else can assist with the entry. Collaborations are prohibited.
  • The entry cannot have been previously entered in another competition, show, or exhibition. The work must be fresh and tailored to this competition’s theme.
  • The entry cannot contain copies or close facsimiles of others’ copyrighted designs, art, logos, or other material. Remember: Originality is rewarded in this competition!
  • The entry cannot contain inedible materials, including those labeled “nontoxic” or “for display use only”. Any items that could be construed by judges as inedible (including, but not limited to, luster dust, highlighter dust, glitter, pencil, etc.) should either not be used or be clearly identified by brand name on your entry form in the area where techniques are described (so that judges can verify their edibility). Remember: “Nontoxic” does not mean “edible”. Exception for 3-D Cookie Category: Internal supports are discouraged, but allowed if they are clearly visible to judges (without looking at any work-in-process photos) and could easily be removed from the cookie(s) if they were to be eaten (i.e., such as sticks in cookie pops).
  • The entry must conform to the minimum cookie number and overall entry size requirements for each category, as described in “Categories” above. There is no maximum number of cookies in either category.
  • Entrant must conduct her/himself in an ethical and professional manner. Good sportsmanship matters! 
  • Set up must be completed by 9:45AM, Saturday, February 26, 2023. 
    Check-in and set-up hours are:
    > 5PM to 8PM Friday, February 25, 2023
    > 7AM to 9:45AM Saturday, February 26, 2023
  • Judging will begin promptly at 10AM, Saturday, February 26, 2023.
  • Winners will be announced beginning at 4PM on Sunday, February 27, 2023.
  • Entries are not permitted to leave the competition display area until 5PM, Sunday, February 27, 2023.
  • Entries must be removed from the display area between 5PM and no later than 6:30PM on Sunday, February 27, 2023. Any items, cookies, displays, etc. remaining after 6:30PM will be disposed of by staff.
  • All entries will be photographed and shared on this website and social media. By entering the competition, you are giving us permission to share pictures.
  • Judges reserve the right to deduct points or to remove or disqualify any entry they feel violates rules or doesn’t meet requirements.
  • Judges’ decisions are final.

2-D/Flat Cookie Requirements

Theme: Broadway & Musicals

  • All general rules for all categories must be met. (See “General Rules” for cookies, here.)
  • Again, the entry must conform to the minimum cookie number and overall entry size requirements for the 2-D Cookie category, as described under “Categories” above.

3-D/Flat Cookie Requirements

Theme: Broadway & Musicals

  • All general rules for all cookie categories must be met. (See “General Rules” for cookies, here.)
  • Again, the entry must conform to the minimum cookie number (12) and overall entry size requirements for the 3-D Cookie category, as described under “Categories” above.
  • All cookies included in the construction must be clearly identified on the entrant’s entry form and shown in one of the required work-in-process photos.
  • Again, internal supports are discouraged, but allowed if they are clearly visible to judges (without looking at any work-in-process photos) and can easily be removed from the cookie(s) if they were to be eaten (i.e., such as cookie pops).

Rules Questions?

Contact Julia at sweetlife@juliausher.com

Your Judging Panel

When only the best will do

Julia M. Usher

Lead Judge

Julia M. Usher is a world-renowned sugar artist most recognized for her pioneering work in 3-D cookies. She is also the author of two books, 13 e-books, and an app, all about cookie decorating. When not spreading her love for cookie art in classes across the globe, Julia produces videos for her popular YouTube channel, Recipes for a Sweet Life; oversees Cookie Connection™, the world’s largest online cookie decorating community; designs cookie stencils sold under her “JULIA” brand; and manages Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™, which was filmed for a Food Network documentary in 2019. She also judges Cake Masters Magazine’s annual sugar arts competition, as well as other notable cookie competitions across the country. Julia is Past President of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and has received multiple food writing, decorating, and video awards, including James Beard Food Writing Award finalist (2008), Cordon d’ Or Food Writing Award winner (2009), Cake Masters Magazine Cookie Award winner (2013), Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show Medal of Honor (2014), both EAGA US and International Sugar Artist of the Year Awards (2016), Cake Masters Magazine Cookie Icon (2017), and TASTE Breakout Foodie of the Year (2019). But above all else, Julia is a firm believer that life should be lived sweetly!

Ginny Levack

Creative cookier

Ginny Levack and her husband, Doug, are the inventors of the original Stencil Genie®️ and duo behind Creative Cookier and Genie Products for Better Baking, which offer an array of products and services specially designed for cookie decorators. When Ginny is not coming up with new products, she produces themed cookie retreats and cruises that bring cookie decorating enthusiasts together with well-known cookie “celebs”. Ginny and Doug have received two Cookie Connection™ Cookiers’ Choice Awards, as well as an EAGA Innovations Award. As one judge said: “I love that the Levacks don’t just see cookie artists as customers, but as friends and members of a community. This spirit infuses everything they do, and is, no doubt, the secret to their incredible success.”

Stephanie Kappel

Hungry Hippopotamus

Stephanie Kappel, the owner and cookie artist at The Hungry Hippopotamus, believes that cookies are the perfect marriage of technical skill, artistic expression, and visible affection. Her work has been featured on ABC Action News and in American Cake Decorating, Edible Artists Network, and Southern Living magazines. She has been interviewed on Cookie Connection™ and the Power of a Cookie Podcast, and featured as a Superhero of Sweets by Ann Clark Cookie Cutters. Her clients include Disney and Williams-Sonoma, and she was a finalist on Food Network’s Holiday Gingerbread Showdown. Stephanie is a Bluprint instructor, contributing educator for SugarEd Productions Sugar Art School, and proud baker for Icing Smiles.

Sandie Beltran

You can call me sweetie

Sandie Beltran is the founder of You Can Call Me Sweetie and Sweetie Academy, a custom cookie boutique and cookie decorating school located in Miami, Florida that specializes in custom made-to-order sugar cookies as well as group and private cookie decorating classes. Sandie began her love of cookie decorating in October 2012 with making cookie sets for her family and friends. The popularity of her sugar art grew so rapidly that, by January 2015, she was able to take her passion for cookie decorating to full time. Sandie has won Cookie Connection™’s 2014 Cookier of the Year Award and been selected as a finalist for Cake Masters Magazine’s 2015 Cookie Award. Says Sandie, “I truly strive for perfection and enjoy working with intricate and innovative designs that give the wow factor to any event. I love sharing my cookie journey with my students and helping them achieve their full potential in this wonderful world of cookie decorating.”

Laura Saporiti

Pastry & Cake Art

Laura Saporiti, is a well published cake artist within several international magazines, such as Italian Pasticceria Internazionale, American Cake Central, British Cake Masters, Indian Sugar Magazine and Chinese Café & Gateaux.. Throughout her career she has participated in a large array of International exhibits and has received many awards and recognitions for the quality of her work.  She won the first prize at the Cake Design Italian Festival (2013), the special prize for aesthetic at the Italian Cup of Cake Design (2014), a gold medal at the British Cake International Show Competition (2014), and the 2017 Rising Star award at the Golden Tiers Awards organized by American Cake Decorating magazine and the New York Cake Show. She also won the title of Best Italian Painting Artist in 2015 and 2016.

Her international reputation led to several invitations to judge at cake and cookie competitions.  These include the Italian Cake Festival, the 2015 I’m Chef Bakery Master Championship in Shanghai, the Istanbul Cake show in Turkey, the NY Cake Show, the 2019 Indian Cakeology Fest in Mumbai. and the cookie section of the 2020 Soflo competition in Miami.

She is proud of winning first place in the 3D category of Julia Usher’s Cookie Art Competition hosted at the 2020 That Takes the Cake Show in Austin.  In 2021 she was invited to be a judge in Julia Usher’s first online international edition of her cookie competition.

In May 2021, she was selected by Dolcesalato magazine as one of the 50 best Italian women pastry chef of the year.

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