One week before the Presidential Election, two Harper College culinary students will face off against two more from Elgin Community College in a cupcake duel that sees them vying for their own votes from taste-testers.
The competition, part of a "Think Global, Eat Local: An International Taste of Hoffman Estates," plays out from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the Stonegate Banquet and Conference Center in Hoffman Estates. Sponsored by Tate & Lyle Splenda, the challenge will award $1,000 and $500 scholarships to two winners who best use the sweetener and receive the popular vote from attendees.
Harper instructor Pili Rios urged her students' participation in the contest because of Splenda's popularity and the challenge it posed in forcing students to think outside the sweetening norm.
"People are interested in Splenda, and using it in their homes," Rios said. "By researching the qualities and playing creatively with it and other ingredients, they can be more competitive and marketable in the workforce."
Eighteen Harper students rose to the challenge, with Rios selecting the best-tasting cupcakes as semifinalists. Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod later chose the finalists from each school based on presentation and tie-in to the autumn theme.
"We want to highlight the idea that you don't have to travel very far to find fine dining or to explore diverse cuisines -- and, similarly, you don't have to travel very far to receive high-caliber culinary educations," says Lillian Mosier, chair of Hoffman Estates' Sister Cities Commission, which is hosting Think Global, Eat Local in honor of the village's sister city of Angouleme, France.
In addition to the homegrown cupcake war, the event will boast samples from Hoffman Estates restaurants, dishes prepared by Chef Patrick Guat from L'Amandier School of Culinary Arts and a market of products from French producers, importers and distributors.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door; the cost includes a chance to vote on the cupcakes.