Friday night’s flagship Flaherty Food Fights event at Flaherty Hall transformed the LaFortune Ballroom into the setting for Notre Dame’s Food Network-style cake decorating competition.
For the event, teams of two from each dorm were tasked with decorating a two-layer vanilla cake in 30 minutes using two random icing colors as well as cake decorating tools provided by Campus Dining.
Members of the Notre-Dame community can vote for the winning cake online until Saturday at the end of the day by making a donation via a link sent by their dorm president. Every $ 1 donation counts as one vote for a voter’s favorite cake, with all proceeds going to Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend.
The dormitory whose cake receives the most votes will be named Grand Champion Flaherty Food Fights Campus.
Although Flaherty Food Fights is in its third year, this is the first time the women of Flaherty have held a cake decorating competition. Junior Dani Harold, one of the Co-Vice Presidents of Flaherty, said that Flaherty Food Fights started in 2019 as a cooking contest modeled on the popular Food Network show “Chopped”.
Last year, explained Harold, the contestants took on the challenge of creating a dinner entree using ingredients found in the North or South Dining Room – the places where the event typically takes place – plus a secret ingredient: miso paste . Entries were sampled and judged by Campus Dining staff members, and members of the campus community were encouraged to attend and cheer on their dorm applicants.
But this year, security restrictions related to COVID-19 forced Flaherty’s event planners to dramatically adapt the event.
“We kept the food theme, but otherwise this year’s event was pretty much a whole different thing,” said Harold. “We went from having dinner to decorating cakes. It seemed to be a lot more doable with the COVID restrictions… We thought cake decorating would be great because it’s still food related, but no one would have to eat inside.
Although very different from the events of previous years, Harold said the cake decorating competition was a big success.
“Turnout has been at least the same if not better this year,” said Harold. “People really enjoyed the theme, so maybe it’s something we would even like to continue doing in the future.”
Elder Steven Cascio and sophomore Michael Murakami represented Dunne Hall in the competition. This was the duo’s second consecutive appearance at Flaherty Food Fights.
“Last year we did a risotto… but unfortunately lost to a team that did a bowl of acai,” said Murakami. “We were very upset that we lost, so this year we were both excited to try to win at last.”
Murakami and Cascio were given purple and yellow icing to decorate their pre-baked cake. As “big basketball fans,” they decided to go for a Los Angeles Lakers theme, adorning their cake with a Kobe Bryant jersey. Cascio said he hopes the theme of the cake will appeal to male voters and reflect their approach to competition.
“We felt like we were robbed without winning last year, so we wanted to have a story of having the ‘Mamba mentality’ this year and putting everything in this cake,” Cascio explained, referring to the Bryant’s famous mantra.
Although Murakami and Cascio did not win the title of ‘Campus Dining Favorite’ which was awarded directly after the judges’ favorite cake contest in each of the two divisions – one made up of North Quad participants who competed at 5 p.m. and one made up of South Quad participants who competed at 5:45 p.m. – Murakami said it was great fun to participate as neither he nor Cascio had already decorated a cake.
In contrast, sophomore Amanda Abner – half of the team representing Johnson Family Hall – said she entered the contest precisely because of her passion for cake decorating.
“I always bake elaborate cakes for my sister’s and mother’s birthdays,” said Abner. “So I thought it would be super fun! “
Using blue and purple frosting, Abner and his teammate created a floral cake with decorative piping that Abner said was the most difficult part of their creation.
While Abner’s team didn’t win the Campus Dining Favorite either, they said the winners – Cavanaugh Hall in the North Quad division and Ryan Hall in the South Quad division – were more than deserving of them.
“I have to hand it over to the first place winner,” said Abner, referring to Cavanaugh’s side. “They had a bouquet of flowers on their cake. It was wonderful !
The Grand Champion’s cake is still being determined as the online voting and donation period continues until the end of this week. Those interested in updates on the contest should follow Flaherty Hall’s Instagram page @flaherty_hall.