Dining With Denise Neil

Green bean grape cupcakes? Wichita will get a taste on Saturday

A salted caramel pretzel cupcake is one of the competitors at Saturday’s Cupcake Challenge at CityArts.
A salted caramel pretzel cupcake is one of the competitors at Saturday’s Cupcake Challenge at CityArts.

If you don’t have a ticket to Saturday’s CityArts Cupcake Challenge, you may have done your waistline a favor.

The first-year event is sold out, so if you’re not one of the 110 people who’ve already purchased a ticket, your Saturday sugar intake will likely remain reasonable.

Not so for ticket holders.

They’ll be sampling 28 different cupcakes – some intricately created as edible pieces of art (a “chocolate Chihuly” cupcake topped with pulled sugar resembling glass), others made with intriguingly strange ingredients (green bean and grape cupcake, anyone?)

Attendees will vote to award a “best of show” cupcake, and a panel of judges that includes me will choose winners in three other categories: best professional cupcake, best novice cupcake and best specialty cupcake (gluten free, etc.)

The event was dreamed up when CityArts was looking for a new, engaging fundraiser to replace a live and silent auction it used to do. Cupcakes seemed like a sweet choice, said Sean Jones, the organization’s communications manager.

“We just wanted to do something more fun that gets people interacting more with CityArts,” he said. “We wanted to do kind of a new take on artistry.”

Jones said he was surprised how many people wanted to enter the competition, where the prizes are ceramic cupcakes made by local artist Charlotte Martin plus gift certificates to Cake Stuff at Central and Tyler. Most of the entrants are home cooks and amateur bakers, but one restaurant did enter. Parsnipity Cafe is bringing sticky toffee pudding cupcakes, which will be served alongside flavors like salted caramel pretzel, choco berrylicious, strawberry surprise and lovely lemon.

In between tasting cupcakes, attendees can play a game of food trivia, peruse a food-related art show on the second floor and participate in craft-making.

Organizers capped ticket sales at 110 because they wanted to make sure traffic could flow well in the gallery, where cupcake competitors will be set up three to a table. If all goes well, Jones said, next year’s event could be larger.

CityArts Cupcake Challenge

What: A cupcake competition and sampling event that raises money for CityArts

When: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: CityArts, 334 N. Mead

Tickets: Sold out

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