Hy-Vee names top cake and floral decorators

WEST DES MOINES- Twenty-five of Hy-Vee’s best cake and floral designers squared off in the company’s annual Extreme Cake and Floral Challenge finals last Saturday to find out who would emerge as the company’s top designers.
Sara Vanderheyden, cake designer at the Prairie Trail Hy-Vee in Ankeny, won first place in the cake challenge, earning $2,000 in prize money. For the second year in a row, Hy-Vee’s floral design champion was Shannon Ahlman from the Grand Island (Nebraska) Hy-Vee, who took home $2,000.
Earlier this year, more than 200 designers competed in six semifinal events throughout Hy-Vee’s eight-state region in the 2017 Extreme Cake and Floral Challenge. The top cake and floral designers from each semifinal event were then selected to compete in the finals.
Each cake designer decorated a wedding cake and a groom’s cake and was judged on technical appearance, icing appearance and level of difficulty.
“Hy-Vee has the most talented cake designers in the country and this competition was a tremendous opportunity to showcase the culinary expertise of our company’s best,” said Tony Byington, Hy-Vee’s vice president of bakery operations. “We’re proud of all of the designers that competed and congratulate Sara for her well-deserved win.”
In the cake challenge, second place and decorators’ choice went to Amber Rahe from Hilltop Hy-Vee in Mankato, Minn., who won $2,000 and third place went to Katie Anderson from the East Euclid Hy-Vee in Des Moines, who was awarded $750. 
For the floral challenge, designers created one of four different arrangements that were judged on theme, technical execution, focal emphasis, proportion, form, unity, color/texture and originality.
“It is absolutely amazing to watch our designers in action and see their creativity come alive,” said Susan Jones, group vice president of fashion, floral and beauty at Hy-Vee. “All of our designers did an amazing job, and we congratulate Shannon for winning a second consecutive year.”
In the floral challenge, second place went to Dan Kotecki from Brooklyn Park (Minnesota) Hy-Vee, who won $1,000 and third place went to Jordan Stats from 95th Street Hy-Vee in Overland Park, Kan., who was awarded $750.

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