Pittsburgh is still the city of champions!
This weekend, Pittsburgh-based cookier (the industry term for an avid cookie decorator) Jeanette Urbanek won 3rd place at the “Cookie Con,” an international cookie decorating convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
Her winning design? An homage to Pittsburgh, of course!
Urbanek, a licensed home baker and owner SGR cookie, entered a piece in the “Home Sweet Home” category of the convention’s “Sugar Show” competition. Per the competition’s prompt, participants were instructed to show “where you’re from by creating cookies that represent your hometown.”
Urbanek, a Pittsburgh native, created a 8.5″ by 11″ cookie decorated with the Pittsburgh skyline, a bridge with trolly crossing, the Heinz History Center, Primanti Brothers, Isaly’s, and Mr. Rogers. The buildings and Mr. Rogers were all hand-painted by Urbanek using gel food coloring.
The design was inspired by well-known landmarks around the city, as well as Urbanek’s own memories of Pittsburgh.
“Including Isaly’s was a little more of a personal one,” says Urbanek. “My dad used to work at Isaly’s, and my mom grew up near the Isaly family and she would tell stories of trick-or-treating at their house.”
Urbanek relays that the Isaly family handed out (Can you guess?) Klondike Bars to trick-or-treaters! Families would visit their house last to sit on the lawn and eat ice cream.
“It was a thing to end trick-or-treating at the Isaly’s,” laughs Urbanek.
She also remembers her mom mentioning that ham was 99¢ a pound, so there is a tiny sign for ham painted into the Isaly’s window on the cookie.
The entries are supposed to be anonymous, but Urbanek, a proud Pittsburgher, was sure everyone would know her over-the-top Pittsburgh design (featuring a huge Mr. Rogers) was made by her. But that wasn’t the case!
“It was funny how many people had no clue he was from Pittsburgh,” laughs Urbanek.
Urbanek made the cookie in Pittsburgh, and then transported it down to Louisville (via plane) for the competition.
“I’d never made anything so big or so delicate, so I packaged it very carefully,” says Urbanek, also adding that TSA in Louisville was “not amused” by her traveling with a cookie.
Cookie Con is the world’s largest gathering of cookie artists. The four-day event hosts nearly 1000 attendees, and offers workshops, classes, seminars, shopping, keynote speeches, and a “Sugar Show” competition. Many of attendees and/or instructors have appeared on the Food Network cookie challenges.
This year the competition had four categories, including “Home Sweet Home,” “All in a Day’s Work,” “Anything Goes,” and “Mystery Shape.” For the Mystery Shape category, decorators are given at random, blank cookie at Cookie Con to decorate as they see fit. The Sugar Show is judged by Popular Vote, an Expert Jury Panel, and the Instructors Choices.
Urbanek won 3rd place in the “Home Sweet Home” category via the Jury Panel. This was her second time attending the convention, after attending in Indianapolis in 2018.
“It’s a really positive, fun environment to be in,” says Urbanek of the show. “Cookiers have such good attitudes and want to share what they know with everyone.”
More information can be found online.
And if you’re curious about the other entries, Urbanek shared with us more pictures from the show!
Still hungry for Pittsburgh food news? Keep reading…
– The Untold Story of Eat’n Park’s Iconic Smiley Cookie
– Pittsburgh Cookie Table Named “Wedding Tradition to Steal” by The Knot
– Kaufmann’s Iconic Thumbprint Cookies Returns… to Prantl’s Bakery!
– How the Famous Farkleberry Cookie Came to Oakmont Bakery