2017 SoCal VegFest Vegan Cupcake Competition



Q:  Is this a cupcake eating competition, or a baking competition?

A:  This is a baking competition (only the judges get to eat the cupcakes – sorry…!).


Q:  Do I have to bake them at the competition?

A:  No. Please bake and decorate them at home, then bring your finished cupcakes (6 of them) to the SoCal VegFest.


Q:  When is the registration deadline?

A:  Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 11:55pm Pacific Standard Time


Q:  When is turn-in?

A:   Saturday, October 28, 2017, between 11am and noon (the first day of the 2017 SoCal VegFest!)


Q:  Where do I turn it in?

A:  At the Cooking Demo Tent of the SoCal VegFest, at the Orange County Fairgrounds (Costa Mesa, CA, USA).


Q:  Do I need to buy an entrance ticket for the SoCal VegFest if I'm only going to turn-in my cupcakes?

A:  Yes. Tickets start at $5 for adults for one day if purchased in advance online. Tickets are $10 for adults at the door. Kids 12 & under and Seniors 65+ get in for free. Special 2-Day and VIP admissions tickets are also available. If you're coming to enter the cupcake competition, we encourage you to enjoy the all the vegan food, speakers, cooking demos, live music, and everything else the VegFest has to offer.

Q:  How many cupcakes do I have to turn in?

A:  Please turn in six (6) standard-size cupcakes (all the same). Three will be given to the judges, and three will be put on display.


Q:  Do they have to be standard-sized?  Mini-cupcakes are soooo cute…!

A:  Standard size cupcakes, please (but minis are cute).


Q:  Does it have to be VEGAN?  Can it just be vegetarian?

A:  Vegan only, please.  This means no animal products of any kind – no dairy, no eggs, no honey, no meat, no poultry, no seafood or animal products of any kind.


Q:  What?!? Can a vegan cupcake taste good?!?

A:  Absolutely!… just ask Chloe Coscarelli or Doran Peterson.  Both of them won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars with vegan cupcakes against non-vegan competition!


Q:  Is this only for professional bakers or professional-cupcake-competition-enterers?

A:  Everyone is welcome!  There are two categories, so amateurs or even first-time bakers are encouraged to give it a try!

          1. General Division: Includes all recreational bakers, cupcake enthusiasts, and basically anyone not competing in the Elite/Professional Division.

          2. Elite/Professional Division: Includes any entrant who either:

               a. currently works or has ever worked as a pastry chef, chef, baker, decorator at a restaurant, bakery, or other food establishment;

               b. has graduated from culinary/pastry school;

               c. is an advanced-level student currently attending culinary/pastry school;

               d. has ever won 1st Place at the SoCal VegFest Cupcake Competition (either in the General or Elite/Professional Division), an Orange County Fair baking competition, or any other major baking competition; OR

               e. has been a serious home cook/baker for 10+ years

Please note that the criteria for the General and Elite/Professional Divisions are guidelines only, and each contestant should enter the Division they feel best describes their level. Judges and organizers may move entrants into another Division if they deem it appropriate.


Q:  Does it have to be my original recipe?

A:  Nope.  Original recipes are, of course welcome, but feel free to bake something out of a cookbook or try your hand at veganizing grandma’s recipe or whatever. Google “vegan cupcake recipe” for some ideas.  We just ask that you make it from scratch (not from a mix), and bake it yourself.  And if you’re using a recipe out of a cookbook, we ask that you credit the source when you turn in your ingredient list.


Q:  Grandma has a great cupcake recipe, but it’s not vegan.  How do I “veganize” a recipe?

A:  It’s not as hard as you might think.  “The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions” by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman is a great start, or do a web search. A great vegan cupcake cookbook is "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.


Q:  Do I have to bake them myself, or can I buy some vegan cupcakes from my favorite vegan bakery and dress them up?

A:  All cupcakes must be baked and decorated by the entrant.


Q:  If I win, will I become famous overnight?

A:  Ummm… probably not, but you never know, so enter!


Q:  Okay, so maybe I won’t become famous overnight, so what do I get if I win?

A:  Winners get the following:  1) A gift bag full of vegan goodies worth $25-$50, depending on your placement; 2) a cool ribbon; 3) bragging rights for one glorious year.


Q:  Who are the judges?

A:  Our Official Judges for 2017 are Pietro Gallo, Owner and Kitchen Manager of Civico 1845 (San Diego, CA, USA); Tara Punzone, Chef and Owner of Punzone;s Plant Based Italian (Los Angeles, CA, USA); and Ian Beach, Executive Chef and Chef Instructor at Exhibit at the Art Institute of California Orange County (Santa Ana, CA, USA). Former Judges include Krysten Littles, Owner of Baby Love Sweetery, a 100% vegan bakery based in Los Angeles, CA, USA; Jara Fonseca, Pastry Chef at the 100% vegan restaurant Seabirds Kitchen in Costa Mesa, CA, USA and Best of Show Winner at the 2015 SoCal VegFest Vegan Cupcake Competition; Daniel Mattos, Director of Culinary Arts & Hospitality at Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, CA, USA; Tanya Petrovna of Chef Tanya's Kitchen in Palm Springs, CA, USA; and Jackie Sobon of Vegan Yack Attack based in Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Q:  Should I put the cupcakes on a fancy platter when I turn them in?

A:  No. All cupcakes will be transferred to a generic container (the same kind for everyone) when you turn them in, so the judges are judging based on the merits of the cupcakes themselves, not the container.  Note that the appearance of the cupcakes themselves are a factor.


Q:  Will the judges know who baked what when they’re judging?

A:  No. Each entry will be assigned a number, which is all the judges will see until the final results are tallied.


Q:  What are the judging criteria?

A:  The full judging criteria may be found here.  But basically, the judges will be assessing based on appearance, taste, texture, creativity, and overall appeal. 


Q:  I have a super-secret recipe – do I need to turn it in with the cupcakes?

A:  No, we’re not requiring the recipe.  We DO however, require an ingredient list, which needs to be submitted by Thursday, October 27 on the official Ingredients List Form.


Q:  When is the awards ceremony?

A:  Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 5:00pm at the Cooking Demo Tent of the SoCal VegFest.  Winners don't have to be present to win.