Holiday Bake Off winner

Campus-wide bake-off delivers sweet treats and goodwill

Princeton's 2017 Holiday Bake-Off benefiting the United Way of Mercer County was held Dec. 13. The First Place and Best Presentation awards went to Damaris Zayas, Program in Latin American Studies and Program in Latino Studies, for her Rice Krispies Treats.

Princeton University’s Holiday Bake-Off brought the tastes and spirit of the season to the Frist Campus Center on Dec. 13, raising $679 for the United Way of Greater Mercer County’s Community Impact Fund.

Faculty and staff from 24 departments participated as well as six students, providing an eye-catching array of cakes, cookies and confections.

“The Holiday Bake-Off was a fantastic opportunity for everyone that is part of the campus community to join together in a festive, year-end event,” said Kristin Appelget, director of community and regional affairs. “I know the judges would agree that we have many, very talented chefs on campus, and we were delighted to have so many of them share their skills by making their favorite holiday treats to support the United Way. It was especially fun to see entire departments come to see who had won and to purchase items their colleagues had prepared.” 

Holiday Bake Off winners

Awards were given for the top three entries, along with special honors for taste, presentation and originality. Winners pictured from left to right are Mini Panettone by Dave Morreale, Office of Information Technology, Second Place; Rosemary Shortbread by Nicole Bergman, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Third Place and Best Taste; and Coco(a)-Exist or Peace in the Middle East by Matilda Luk, Office of Communications, Most Original.

The winners, chosen from 42 contestants, were:

1st Place and Best Presentation – Rice Krispies Treats, Damaris Zayas, Program in Latin American Studies and Program in Latino Studies
2nd Place – Mini Panettone, Dave Morreale, Office of Information Technology 
3rd Place and Best Taste – Rosemary Shortbread, Nicole Bergman, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
Most Original – Coco(a)-Exist or Peace in the Middle East, Matilda Luk, Office of Communications

Zayas, who works as a program coordinator for Latin American studies and Latino studies, said she signed up to compete because she felt it was a great way to give back to the community while exercising her creativity and doing something she loves.

“I supported United Way many years ago, even as a teenager, and to this day, they are still providing necessary services to so many in need in our area and around the world,” she said. “If I can sign up to help and be just one, small fragment of their overall greater mission, then I feel I have done my part.

“Also, it never hurts to have bragging rights on campus,” she added. “I look forward to next year’s event!”

Judging Holiday Bake Off

Center: Judges from across campus decide the winners. Far left and right: Seasonal treats baked by faculty, staff and students delight the eyes and the palette.

Luk, a visual designer who bakes each year during the holidays for friends, family and colleagues, said she knew from the moment she saw the Bake-Off poster that she would enter.

“I think about cookies and collect recipes all year, I decide on the varieties by October, start making doughs to store in the freezer, and set aside a weekend to bake and assemble,” she said. “I knew the Bake-Off was going to be a great opportunity for me to challenge myself to create a new cookie, as well as help raise some money for the University’s United Way campaign — a win on every level, no matter how I placed.”

Judges for the competition were Brian Schoenbeck, executive pastry chef in Campus Dining; Kim Jackson, director of Transportation and Parking Services; Patricia Fernández-Kelly, professor of sociology; and Sgt. Sean Ryder, Department of Public Safety.

All unsold baked goods were donated to Cornerstone Community Kitchen for their holiday dinner that evening.

Monetary donations to the United Way of Greater Mercer County’s Community Impact Fund will be accepted through February. A pledge form is available for download at the Office of Community and Regional Affairs’ United Way Campaign webpage.