New Bake-Off this year

Judging, voting opened up to we the people

Main Street Calumet photo Shanna Porteen, a Main Street Calumet volunteer offering the judges each a taste of an entry in the 2016 Pasty Fest Bake-Off.

After a disappointing turn of events for last year’s Pasty Fest bake-off due to an unexpected storm, Main Street Calumet has decided to change the rules a bit and will open up the event to the public more so than ever.

In past years, the Pasty Fest bake-off has been set up with three different entry divisions: Traditional Copper Country Pasty Professional Division, Traditional Copper Country Pasty Home-Baked Division, Traditional Cornish Division, and Non-Traditional Pasty Professional Division. Main Street Calumet would then bring in outside non-partisan judges to taste test the pasties and determine the winners among each category.

However, when a storm struck during last year’s Pasty Fest, all judges cancelled and the bake-off was left up to a group of five random event goers to taste test the pasty entries. In additional to this, the number of entries for each category was low, with only two entries competing for the Traditional Copper Country Pasty Home-Baked and no one entered in the Traditional Cornish Division. As a result, there were only three winners: Connie’s Kitchen for the Traditional Copper Country Pasty Professional Division, Carmelita’s for the Non-traditional Pasty Division and Danny and Marsha Klein for the Traditional Copper Country Pasty Home-Baked Division.

Executive Director of Main Street Calumet, Leah Polzien discussed their reasoning behind changing the rules for the 2017 bake-off, explaining the lack of participation and the public’s wish to be more directly involved.

“We were seeing kind of decreasing interest and participation in all categories, honestly,” Polzien said, “The comments that we had gotten from people was that they really wanted to be a judge and to be able to taste a lot of pasties.”

This year’s Pasty Fest bake-off will include only three contestants, as the organizers have made the executive decision to cut out the home-baked contest since they cannot offer home-baked pasties for sale to the public due to regulations. Along with this, the bake-off rules now require contestants to submit petite four-ounce pasties, as this allows for people to taste test more pasties given their sizes.

Furthermore, the judging for this year’s bake-off is open to the public. The three contestants’ mini-pasties will be bundled up and labeled with different colored toothpicks before they are offered for sale to the public at five dollars per kit. After tasting each pasty, the person will return the toothpick from the one they liked best to the bake-off booth.

“So the public will be able to come to the booth and for five dollars, they’ll get the kit with the pasties in it,” Polzien explained, “That way it opens up to 50 random people. Whoever gets there first.”

Connie’s Kitchen, the 2016 winners of the Traditional Copper Country Pasty Professional Division will be returning to the bake-off this year and they are sure in their ability to take home this year’s award.

Connie’s Kitchen employee, Toni Sidle said that they are “pretty confident” they will win again. When asked if she wanted to expand on this, Sidle just boldly smiled and shook her head no.

On the other hand, Polzien was happy to say a few words to express her excitement for the bake-off and its new system that she hopes will bridge a stronger connection between the event and the public as well as increase participation.

“I’m very excited to see how people like this kind of new way of doing things and excited to see maybe main street turn into a little bit of a fundraiser and that it just brings in more people, more businesses that would like to participate and put their pasty out there to be tasted,” Polzien said.