When Valley pastry chefs Tracy Dempsy and Kelly Garcia began dreaming up a cupcake camp for local dessert lovers, their idea quickly morphed into something broader.
“We just thought: Peace, love and cupcakes. What could be better than that?” says Garcia, owner of online bakery Butter and Me.
What they came up with is the Valley’s first Cupcake Love-In, a lighthearted culinary festival celebrating the cute in-demand dessert. Scheduled for Sunday at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, the Love-In will feature cupcake samples from 30 local bakeries, cupcake shops and restaurants, including Gilbert’s The Coffee Shop at Agritopia, whose bakers won a $10,000 prize earlier this summer on an episode of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
“Cupcakes were trendy in the beginning,” says Garcia, “But now I think they’re here to stay. There are just so many bakeries throughout Arizona and the country specializing in them, and people are still crazy about them. They’ve gone from being a trendy thing to just being something that’s here for good.”
Pro bakers will compete in several contests at the festival, ranging from “Best Savory Cupcake” to “Best Use of Secret Ingredient.” But Garcia says the mood will be far more fun than fierce.
“It’s not going to be like a Food Network throwdown. It’s definitely more about having fun. We wanted to create a casual, family friendly event, where you can get your plate and go around sampling cupcakes and do things like try your hand at working a pastry bag,” she says.
Aside from the sweets, you’ll find a cupcake decorating station for kids, decorating demos for adults with experts from ABC Cake Decorating Supplies (a source for many of the pro bakers at the event), a cupcake eating contest, a photo booth and a prize raffle. You can also shop for cupcake-themed T-shirts, charms and other goodies.
Garcia says there will also be a big focus on two charities: Singleton Moms, a nonprofit that helps single mothers battling cancer, and Safe Haven for Animals, a nonprofit no-kill shelter. All of the proceeds from ticket sales and a portion of proceeds generated during the event will go to the groups.