Taking the cake in the 2017 Pillsbury™ Bakers’ Plus™ Grand Champion Creative Decorating Competition is just the beginning for one Minneapolis bakery. The Thirsty Whale, with plans to open its first retail storefront in late November, already has a coveted trophy to place in its front window.
The Thirsty Whale’s Megan Bignell and Kyle Baker were named the Grand Champions in the annual cake decorating contest, which took place Oct. 14-15 at The America’s Cake Fair in Orlando.
"We knew this would be a fun competition and thought it would be cool to add a trophy to our collection, but never thought we would receive so much positive feedback and support from the community,” said Megan.
The duo has been making custom cakes by special order at The Thirsty Whale since 2016. Their website features an impressive gallery of cakes that showcase their artistry, talent and attention to detail.
After winning a regional cake decorating competition this past spring, Megan and Kyle earned a spot at the Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus competition hosted by General Mills Foodservice and the Retail Bakers of America. Over two days, they were among five two-person teams asked to create cakes in three categories: a wedding cake, a sculpted cake and a rolled fondant cake with a breast cancer awareness theme.
The duo won first place in all three categories before going on to take the top honors, including a $3,000 Grand Prize. Their award-winning cakes included an intricate wedding cake done in red and gold with delicate wafer paper flowers, a magnificent beach-themed surf shack with surfboards for the sculpted cake category and a breast cancer awareness-themed fondant cake with an inspirational back story.
Megan really wanted to do something different and unexpected around breast cancer awareness and was up the night before brainstorming ideas for the right design. Ultimately, she drew inspiration from her own mother, who had just successfully completed treatment for lymphoma.
My mom kicked butt in her treatment, and we wanted to capture that spirit and show that women with breast cancer are tough,” said Megan, who incorporated the iconic Rosie the Riveter into the cake design. Rosie even has a tattoo that reads “mom” in honor of Megan’s mother.
Megan says they hope to have their retail store open in November with plans to offer cupcakes, donuts, macaroons and pastries in addition to the custom cakes they are known for.
“The process of opening our storefront has been very drawn out and this win has really gotten us excited again!” said Megan. “We are so ready to show Minneapolis what we can do and this attention has been amazing!"
Read more about the Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Creative Decorating Competition here.