The 2014 Dessert First Gala was a big hit and we owe it to an incredible group of people. From event volunteers, committee members, and staff, to our guests, sponsors, celebrity judges and competing chefs ... Girl Scouts of North East Ohio wishes to thank you for your tremendous support in making this a successful event.
We couldn't have done it without all of you and we hope you'll join us again in 2016 for another spectacular event!
Find the results of the Dessert Competition below, as well as links to recipes, photos of the event, and more.
November 15, 2014
Embassy Suites Cleveland-Rockside
5800 Rockside Woods Boulevard Independence, OH 44131
To see more photos of this year's event click here.
Dessert First, in its 18th year, is the Girl Scouts’ signature fundraising event held on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at the Embassy Suites, Cleveland-Rockside. Proceeds benefit 50,000 girls and adult volunteers throughout northeast Ohio.
The event challenges chefs from around the region to create desserts featuring…you guessed it, Girl Scout Cookies! The truly tempting, hand-crafted, decadent desserts are as gorgeous to gaze upon as they are delightful to eat.
In the spirit of friendly competition, desserts will be judged by our panel of celebrity judges and food editors as well as our guests on Presentation, Creativity and Taste. The dessert tasting will be followed by an elegant dinner, raffle, silent and live auction.
The event is attended by hundreds of members of the corporate community as well as individuals who love great food and share a commitment to help girls reach their full potential.
Lee Jordan, a Girl Scout Alumna, has been a news anchor for NewsChannel 5 since 1993. Her accomplishments have earned her numerous awards, including seven local Emmy awards and an induction into the Radio and Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2001. Lee regularly donates time to Cleveland’s diverse cultural and charitable organizations, such as Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, the Women’s Community Foundation, the Visiting Nurses Association, OROC, and The Gathering Place. She has also served on the boards of the Cleveland Eyebank and the Cleveland Alzheimer’s Association. Lee’s interests include auto racing, sailing and cooking.
Eleven restaurants participated in our Dessert Competition this year, which challenged area chefs to create delectable desserts featuring Girl Scout Cookies. Chefs were judged in two categories: People's Choice and Judge's Choice. There were many outstanding entries and our Judges and Guests had their work cut out for them. The winners of the Judge's Choice and People's Choice are below.
First Place was awarded to Chef Joe Gallagher of D'Agnese's on White Pond.
Chef Joe created a scrumptious Trefoil Tiramisu for us to try. Click here for his recipe!
Second Place was awarded to Chefs Jonathan Riegelmayer and Susie Jonke of Food for Thought.
They made a tasty trio of truffles with Savannah Smiles, Do-si-dos, and Thin Mints cookies. Click here to get their recipes!
Taking Third Place was Chef Warren Dolata with a decadent Tropical Cheesecake Bite with Rum Syrup. Get his recipe here!
Our guests' choice for First Place in the People's Choice category was Chef Kendra Altomare of Hudson's Restaurant.
Kendra served up Samoas Pierogis, a delightful and sweet combination of chocolate, caramel and Samoas wrapped in a warm pierogi shell. Yum! Get her recipe here.
Second place was awarded to Chef Michael Fife of The Union Club of Cleveland.
Chef Fife provided a Savannah Smiles Parfait with a Huckleberry Kiss. Try it at home with his recipe.
Placing Third was Chef Michael Slater of Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar.
Chef Slater whipped up a mouthwatering Strawberry Meringue Tart for the competition. Check out his recipe here!
Matthew Fife is executive chef of the Union Club. A 1993 graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, he began his culinary career at Ameila Island Plantation in Florida. Bringing his talents back to Cleveland he has now been with the Union Club for over 17 years. Matthew’s passion for the culinary world shines through each plate with his creativity. Consistently trying new ideas is nothing short of a fun challenge for him. Chef Fife supports Cleveland‘s local farming industry and does his best to bring in all local produce during the seasons. In the summer, many of the vegetables come from his own home garden or grown on the Union Club property. Fife also volunteers as a guest teacher for Tri C’s Culinary Arts program.
Alaina O’Neill began her exciting journey into Culinary Arts at Cincinnati State Midwest Culinary Institute. Originally an Art History major, Alaina found herself drawn to the fast-paced and creatively demanding world of pastry. While in school, she worked for the on-site bakery at Midwest Culinary. From baking bread to decorating cakes, every aspect allowed her to freely express her gift of creativity.
After completing her degree, Alaina worked for numerous bakeries throughout the Cincinnati area. Six years ago, she decided to move back to her hometown of Cleveland, where she began working at two premiere restaurants, Moxie and Red. From day one she continually proved her outstanding ability to create delicious and absolutely stunning pastries. Over the next five years, Alaina grew with the company from a pastry assistant to the pastry chef and eventually moved into her current position as executive pastry chef of the new Red, The Steakhouse Downtown Cleveland.
A graduate of the Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson, Chef Tracey Garrett has a degree in pastry arts and a passion for creating extraordinary pastries with quality ingredients. Starting out as an assistant pastry chef at Triva's in Akron, she went on to head the entire pastry department at Hudson Crossings before finally becoming the owner of Top Tier Pastry, llc, in Garrettsville, Ohio. She has also been a part of the Hudson Farmer's Market for the past 5 years. Recently she was published in Professional Dessert Magazine as one of three nationally recognized signature chefs. Years after starting her journey, Chef Garrett is still as passionate as the first day she put on that chef's jacket.
Chef Craig Snell was born and raised in Vermilion, Ohio and has come home to Vermilion to take the helm at Blind Perch. He garnered a passion for cooking from his grandmother at a young age. It wasn't until after his focus on business management that he decided to pursue cooking full time. He earned a Culinary Arts degree with a scholarship and honors. Through his degree he secured an externship and then earned the sous chef position with a steakhouse and catering company. He was selected to participate in the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland and has been featured in magazines including the cover of Pulse Magazine. Blind Perch is thrilled to bring Chef Craig's culinary creativity to the north coast of Ohio supporting the farm and lake to table cuisine at the Gastropub. New Fall and Lunch menus have Chef Craig's signature stamp for foodies to taste and enjoy.
Krystle Lung began her culinary journey at an early age, helping her mother in the kitchen. The main influences that sparked an interest in her career have always been family based. At the age of 19 she enrolled in the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and graduated with a 3.6 GPA. She enjoys devoting a lot of her time to volunteering for the community teaching various cooking classes. After moving back to Ohio, Krystle externshipped at the Ritz Carlton in downtown Cleveland. Trying to expand her knowledge of cooking she moved back to Pennsylvania where she moved up from a cook to a banquet manager. She spent two years in Pennsylvania cooking and learning as much as she could. Now, at 24 Krystle is the Sous Chef of Embassy Suites Cleveland-Rockside. She continues to push herself, and strives to become an Executive Chef.
Traci Morrison is currently working as a prep and pastry chef for Melt Bar and Grilled. She has a background that includes teaching fine art in both public and private school settings. She was the head baker at both Nature's Bin and the Root Café. She takes her inspiration from vintage cookbooks, traditional family recipes and treasures found at the West Side Market. While baking and cooking are sited as her career, they are both active hobbies as well as creating birthday cakes annually for friends and family.
Inspired by her grandmother’s love for baking, Kendra earned her Bachelor’s degree in Baking & Pastry Arts. She has studied and worked under many fantastic names in the cooking industry such as; Chef Laurent Lhuillier, Executive Pastry Chef Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Resort, Andrew Shotts, Owner/Chocolatier, named Top Chocolatier by Food Network of Garrison Confections, and Gail Simmons of Food & Wine Magazine. Kendra also served as the Demonstration Kitchen Manager for the New York Chocolate Show, as well as coordinated the New York Chocolate Fashion Show for two years.
In 2009 Kendra brought her passion for food and pastry to Hudson’s Restaurant located in Hudson and Fairlawn. Kendra creates new dessert menu items as well as handles all of the restaurants marketing and advertising. When she's not creating delicious desserts she spends her time volunteering on the Merchants of Hudson board, Arthritis Foundation Red & White Charity Event and shares her time with her husband, Kevin and their two kids.
Chef Michael Slater has been working with Paladar Latin Kitchen for the past six years and has recently been promoted to executive chef. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he spent nine years working at several restaurants in Vermont before moving to the Ohio area. Currently, he also moonlights as a Culinary Instructor at Sur La Table in Woodmere.
Simply put, she does the food. Suzie’s role includes menu creation for monthly features and monitoring of kitchen staff. She also makes sure everyone adheres to three key factors in making Food for Thought a high profile kitchen: (1) quality of food; (2) consistency of the recipes; (3) cooperation of the staff to execute all of the orders leaving the kitchen. Suzie’s time at Food for Thought has been rewarding and beneficial, giving her the ability not only to grow but to master the skills required to build fruitful, long-lasting relationships with customers. She realizes that outstanding quality, a positive attitude and the professional skills of the employees will continue to drive success.
Jonathan Riegelmayer graduated from Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte Campus in 2008 with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and in 2010 with a degree in Food Service Management. After working at Crave Dessert Bar while attending school, Jonathan returned home to the Cleveland area where he enjoyed the responsibilities of Pastry Chef at Philomena’s Italian Ristorante in Valley View. He has been Lead Baker at Food for Thought Catering in Mentor for nearly four years.
A graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Warren Dolata has had vast experience in different facets of food service from Senior Living, country clubs, to fine dining. His wife and two boys keep him very busy. They love to cook together at home.
“Cooking has always been a passion for me. I love to teach others about food and cooking techniques. My style of cooking would definitely be described as eclectic and worldly, my moods change quite often as to what I like to eat and cook. Everything from Asian cuisine to Low Country cooking from the South. I can be all over the map! I was taught a long time ago that ‘there are great chefs, and great pastry chefs....there are few folks that can do both well’. I chose that path. I don’t always get to bake as much as I like, but it is a relaxing time. ”In his spare time Warren enjoys fly fishing, Tae Kwon Do (2nd degree black belt), and stamp collecting.
Chef Joe Gallagher opened D’Agnese’s at White Pond in 2010, and before that he co-owned The Bistro at Hammonds Corners in Bath. Joe was born in County Mayo, Ireland, and moved to northeast Ohio with his family in 1988. Joe grew up on a dairy farm. His family often used fresh ingredients from the garden and dairy. He learned that some of the best dishes are the simplest ones to prepare. This suits him well in the style of cooking that he uses at D’Agnese’s at White Pond. When Joe is not working he enjoys traveling with his wife, daughter, and EnglishBulldog (when he is allowed). He also likes participating in local charity events and is an avid kickball player.
Periodically we will be posting biographies and photos of our celebrity judges. They will be judging the Girl Scout Cookie inspired desserts that our chefs will be making.
Jim Vickers is the editor of Ohio Magazine, a monthly publication that celebrates the beauty, the adventure and the fun of life in the Buckeye State. The magazine covers travel, food, home, history and more, offering Ohioans a guide to what's happening each month as well as a look at the state's rich past and colorful present. Jim was previously the managing editor at Cleveland Magazine and is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. Jim’s favorite Girl Scout Cookie is Thin Mints because they're simple, classic and delicious!
Sandra Miller can be heard each weekday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Akron's Home of Rock and Roll, 97.5 WONE. An Akron native herself, Sandra caught the radio bug early —so early in fact that she landed her first on-air radio gig at the age of 14. In 1998, Sandra joined the staff of 97.5 WONE where she had a 13-year run as the 7 p.m. to midnight host before moving to mid-days in 2011. She married her high school sweetheart in 2001 and together they have three kids, one Webelo Scout, a Daisy Scout, and a Brownie. Sandra is still proud to call Akron - home of Devo, Chrissie Hynde, The Black Keys and LeBron James - her home.
Sandra's favorite Girl Scout Cookie is Do-si-dos (though it was the Thin Mints for years). While carrying her oldest child, Sandra craved all things peanut butter, and it stuck - even after 11 years. To this day, many of their mother/son bonding moments take place while sharing their day, and a couple of Di-si-dos.
Debbie Hanson is Vice President of ClevelandWomen.Com, a website for women of all ages and interests in Northeast Ohio. She is also the co-founder and board member of the Cleveland International Hall of Fame. She loves to talk about all things related to Cleveland – and all things related to Cleveland women and girls. Debbie has thrown the first pitch at an Indians game, judged Slovenian sausage and Hungarian Goulash contests and has met U.S. presidents and many international heads of state. Growing up, Debbie relied on the Girl Scouts from Brownies through Cadettes to help her meet new friends. Thin Mints have always been a favorite of hers.
Colin Baker is the Publisher of Akron Life magazine, a city and lifestyle publication serving the Greater Akron area. Colin has been in magazine publishing for more than 17 years and has successfully launched numerous magazines and websites. Before publishing Colin raced cars for Honda North America in the International Motor Sports Association competing throughout the United States and Canada. Colin currently lives in Akron and enjoys traveling, motor sports and spending time with his fiancée and two children.
Debbi Snook has been a reporter in The Plain Dealer’s features section since 1986, covering local food, restaurants, history, outdoor recreation and television. She has won several statewide awards, including “Best Critic in Ohio” and another for a six-part series on Indian removal in Ohio during the early 1800s, as well as a national Missouri School of Journalism Lifestyle Award for her travel and food story on Tuscany. She previously worked as a news and arts reporter, and television editor, for the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union.
Gail Bellamy, Ph.D., CCP is executive food editor of Restaurant Hospitality magazine, a Certified Culinary Professional and a widely published, award-winning writer. She has appeared on The Food Network’s “Titans of Taste,” and for several years hosted a food radio program, “Dinner Plans With Gail Bellamy,” on WELW 1330-AM. Gail is the author of seven books, including Cleveland Food Memories, Cleveland Christmas Memories and Cleveland Summertime Memories (Gray & Co.). Her co-authored children’s book, The Vegetable Storybook, won a 2010 “Best in the U.S.” World Gourmand Cookbook Award. In 2010 she received a Creative Workforce Fellowship in Poetry funded by Cuyahoga Arts Culture, and was appointed the City of Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate for 2010 and 2011. Her articles, essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in more than 80 publications.
Chris Fox is a member of the ensemble known as the Morning Buzz on The Talk of Akron, WNIR 100FM. Chris honed his skills as an entertainer and broadcaster over a 26 year career that started in his New Jersey hometown and includes stops in New York, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He fell in love with Northeast Ohio and its people when he was the PM Drive Personality for Cleveland’s WDOK from 2000-2007 and is very happy to be back “home” where his son, Ben, is growing up. When not playing with his son, Chris plays with his guitar. Chris is also an avid foodie. And, of course, it’s DESSERT FIRST!
Meg White is one of the co-hosts of the Keith Tony and Meg Show on 98.1 WKDD. Prior to moving to Akron in October of 2013, she co-hosted the Coach and Maggie Morning Show on 102.7 WVSR in Charleston, WV. Meg is a Washington, DC native who moved to Charleston, SC and graduated from the College of Charleston with an honors B.A. in English, with a focus in British Literature. In 2006 she moved back to Washington, DC and worked as the managing editor of Verse Magazine for three years. In 2009 she shifted focus to broadcast journalism and transitioned to a full-time career in radio. When she is not on the air, Meg enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring Akron, and occasionally contributing to various fashion and entertainment blogs.
In May 2014, Carley McCord joined Q104’s "Fee's Kompany" morning show as co-host. She is also the segment host for "He Said, She Said" with John Anderson on WKYC-TV3. Carley came to Cleveland to work as a Broadcast Media Assistant for the Browns. She was picked to be on the 2014 season of the hit reality show “The Bachelor” but turned it down to work with the Browns. Carley was born and raised in Baton Rouge, La. She attended Northwestern State University and Louisiana State University and graduated with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and Sports Broadcasting. In 2011 and 2012, Carley was First Runner-up, twice, for the title of Miss Louisiana.
Desiray Cross has been a Cleveland radio personality for more than 21 years and can be heard weekdays from 10a.m. – 3p.m. as a disc jockey on Cleveland’s New 102. Des and her husband, Alan, have three kids, three dogs and one cat. Volunteer work, home remodeling, cooking and exercise take up much of her free time. Check out New102.comfor Des’ recipes, blogs, and the very popular soap opera “The Pompous & The Bored.”
Erika Lauren is co-host of The Alan Cox Show on 100.7 WMMS Cleveland. She also covers local events as a blogger for The Lake Take on radio station 106.5 The Lake. Erika is a Chicago native and moved to Cleveland to join The Alan Cox Show in 2010. Erika graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Music Business. After graduating, she appeared on MTV's reality show "The Real World" in Washington, DC. Off air, Erika enjoys playing shows with her band HAWKEYE, spending time in Lakewood with her friends and going to local concerts and sporting events.
Amy Radinovic is the co-host of Youngstown’s WKBN 27 First News This Morning, airing weekdays from 5 -7 a.m. As a long time reporter and news anchor, Amy has been in the Valley since 1990 when she joined WYTV-33 in Youngstown, where she spent 19 years as a general assignment reporter and morning show host. Amy has received a number of awards during her career including Ohio AP Reporter of the Year. She is active with Habitat for Humanity, Relay for Life, Easter Seals and Homes for Kids in Niles, Ohio. Amy was raised in Pittsburgh and is a graduate of Ohio University’s Honor Tutorial College where she earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Dawn Kendrick came to Cleveland in 2001 and has been telling stories in Northeast Ohio ever since. She is the medical reporter for WOIO 19 Action News. Before she joined the WOIO team, Dawn was stationed in St. Louis, Mo. where she reported and anchored for the ABC affiliate. She grew up in St.Louis and graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri. Dawn is thankful every day for the opportunity to do what she loves in a city she is proud to call home.
Glenn Forbes has worked at Newsradio WTAM 1100 since February 2011, starting as a news anchor after radio stops in Toledo and Columbus. In May 2012, he joined The Triv Show as Executive Producer and sidekick, handling Triv, the callers, texters and tweeters. Glenn also joined the newsroom staff at 19 Action News on the assignment desk in March of 2014. Glenn graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007, where he met his wife, Celina. They have two children and live in Westlake. Glenn says he loves Samoas, Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs and Thin Mints, but if he had to choose one it would either be Samoas because of the caramel coconut combo or the Thin Mints because both he and his daughter love them!
This year's event committee was chaired by Judy Matsko. For questions or more information about the event, email email@example.com.