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 3/26/2023
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.)
  • 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 “Scoring” sections below for details.
  • Bronze, silver, and gold level entries will be acknowledged in each skill level classification within each category, based on the following criteria:

o   Bronze = entry earns 71%-80% of total possible points

o   Silver = entry earns 81%-90% of total possible points

o   Gold = entry earns 91% or more of total possible points

  • The Kerry Vincent Best in Show Award will also be given to the one entry (across all categories and skill levels) that best demonstrates impeccable skill, attention to detail, design innovation or aptitude, and high style – all hallmarks of Kerry’s legendary designs.
  • To receive scores and feedback from the judges, entrants must request it on their entry forms (check the box there) AND email Julia (sweetlife@juliausher.com) no later than 10AM, Saturday, April 1, 2023. Feedback will be emailed within two weeks following the competition.

Prizes

As always, ample cash prizes and gift certificates will be awarded to those who achieve the highest scores in each category/skill level classification. The distribution of these prizes will be at the judges’ discretion. More information about total prize value will come after the New Year, but, in 2022, prizes totaled $20,000.

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: International Holidays (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: International Holidays (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 March 26, 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 (please see the link at the top of the page) 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. (Again, see the 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, April 1, 2023.
    Check-in and set-up hours are:
    > 5PM to 8PM Friday, March 31, 2023
    > 7AM to 9:45AM Saturday, April 1, 2023
  • Judging will begin promptly at 10AM, Saturday, April 1, 2023.
  • Winners will be announced beginning at 4PM on Sunday, April 2, 2023.
  • Entries are not permitted to leave the competition display area until 5PM, Sunday, April 2, 2023.
  • Entries must be removed from the display area between 5PM and no later than 6:30PM on Sunday, April 2, 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: International Holidays

  • 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 Cookie Requirements

Theme: International Holidays

  • 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

JULIA M. USHER, LLC

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 or online, Julia produces videos for her popular YouTube channel and website; oversees Cookie Connection™, the world’s largest online cookie decorating community; designs cookie stencils and cutters under her JULIA brand; and manages Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™, which was filmed in 2019 for a Food Network documentary. 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), the first-ever Cake Masters Magazine Cookie Award winner (2013), Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show (OSSAS) Medal of Honor (2014), both Edible Artists Global Academy Association (EAGAA) US and International Sugar Artist of the Year Awards (2016), Cake Masters Magazine Cookie Icon (2017), TASTE Breakout Foodie of the Year (2019), and Best Online Cookie Decorating Classes from The Spruce Eats (2020). She is also a two-time Global Sugar Hero finalist in the Australian Cake Artists & Decorators Association (ACADA) annual Cake Oscar Awards (2021/2022), and currently a finalist in the global 2023 Positive Leadership Awards for her impact on the cookie arts community. Most recently, she launched a series of licensed 3-D cookie decorating courses in Asian markets with the world-renowned Japan Salonaise Association. Her favorite mantra is “live sweetly”, which she urges everyone to do every day!

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 Georgia that specializes in 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

LAURA SAPORITI PASTRY & CAKE ART

Laura Saporiti, owner of Laura Saporiti Pastry and Cake Art, is a pastry chef and cake and cookie artist based in Italy. She worked in the past as an art historian, but currently loves to travel the world, teaching her passion of sugar art and furthering her mission of raising the professional stature of decorating. Laura has had the honor of being published in several international magazines, such as Pasticceria Internazionale (Italy), Cake Central (USA), Cake Masters Magazine (UK), Sugar Magazine (India), and Café & Gateaux (China). Laura has likewise received many awards for her work, including: first prize at Cake Design Italian Festival (2013), special prize for aesthetics at Italian Cup of Cake Design (2014), gold medal at Britain’s Cake International (2014), and Rising Star Award (2017) at the Golden Tiers Awards organized by American Cake Decorating magazine and the New York Cake Show. She has also won the title of Best Italian Painting Artist two times in a row, in both 2015 and 2016, and she proudly wears the badge of first-place winner in the 3-D category of Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition (2020, USA). Her impressive international reputation has earned her invitations to judge several competitions, such as Italian Cake Festival (2015/16), I’m Chef Bakery Master Championship (China, 2015), Istanbul Cake Show (2016/17), New York Cake Show (2016), and Cakeology Fest (India, 2019).

Beatriz Muller

CAKES BY BEATRIZ/GINGERNEERS

Beatriz Muller is a Certified Master Sugar Artist and a gingerbread architect and engineer. From her workshop in Ontario, Canada, she has been running Cakes by Beatriz for almost 20 years. During the holiday season, Beatriz and her staff called “Gingerneers” are dedicated to creating custom-order cookie art and intricate gingerbread buildings and structures. Beatriz’s style is very clean and precise, with delicate and intricate embroidery and royal icing details. It is inspired by the visual arts, architecture, and beautiful ornamental designs that are created around the world. Her work has won multiple awards including first, second, and third at the National Gingerbread House Competition in North Carolina. She is also a winner of Food Network’s Holiday Gingerbread Showdown and The Big Bake. In 2021, Beatriz won first place in the first virtual edition of Julia M. Usher’s Cookie Art Competition™ and, in 2020, she was nominated as a cookie finalist in the American Cake Awards. Her work has been featured in multiple blogs and magazines, and she has had many appearances on TV networks throughout the years. In 2022, Beatriz’s work debuted on the big screen when she was commissioned by Discovery+ to make six gingerbread pieces for the movie “A Gingerbread Christmas”.  

Stephanie Kappel

THE 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 DecoratingEdible 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 most recently competed in the finale of Holiday Gingerbread Showdown on Food Network. Stephanie is a Bluprint instructor, contributing educator for SugarEd Productions Sugar Art School, and proud baker for Icing Smiles.

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