Los Angeles has once again become the scene of the LA Cookie Con. Once again the City of Angels will be the home to a show that celebrates the sweeter side of life. While this is the second year of the LA Cookie Con, this isn’t the same location where it was held last year. That show was held at the at the Pasadena Convention Center. While that may seem insignificant, it was going to that show last year that we realized just how big this event was. From the moment that the show was originally announced, the amount of hype that had surrounded it was through the roof. Every day we are bombarded with the pictures of delicious foods on social media, and the thought of going to an event where some of one’s favorite desserts are there for the taking sounds amazing. After all, the only thing better than looking at food pics is eating the food itself. This show finally gave people the opportunity to see and experience some of the yummiest treats in the SoCal area, and it was fantastic.
Last year was the first time that the show had been announced and the response was overwhelming. I’ll never forget the moment I turned the corner to the convention center. I wasn’t expecting much. Especially because where I had parked there were not too many people walking around. Boy, was I in for a surprise. Just turning that last corner I was shocked to see a line of several hundred people waiting to get into the show. Who would have thought that the response to this new show would be so massive? Having been fortunate enough to be there last year, it was easy to see that the response was so overwhelming, that they would have to move to a larger venue. Or, at least find a way to accommodate more people. That set the scene to where we were this year This year, the organizers took the hint and went straight to a bigger venue. One that was known all over the LA area and one that could easily attract folks to the show. In only it’s second year the show was now going to be at the LA Convention Center, and it promised to be even better than the last. But, would it be even better than the sweet madness we experienced last year? Or, would it be doomed to fail? Well, that’s the question, and one that I don’t think would have had any other answer, than one that’s positive.
We were so excited to see what this new location would bring. But, if it was anything like it was last year, it was sure to be great. I’m sure that the hype surrounding the whole show wouldn’t be for nothing, as last year it was pretty amazing. I think though, regardless of some of the hiccups that last year had (namely long lines and a some disorganization), it was pretty nice to see what that first year would bring out. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the amount of people that would come out to the show. But, it was astounding, in that first run, and now, with a new area, it would be a little easier to navigate. At least, that was the hope. The problem I think, wasn’t so much anything the organizers had anything to do with. I think it had to do with the demand that was created for the show. I mean, for a show to have a large turnout is always an exciting prospect. But, to sell out, and to sell out in its first show ever, was a feat onto itself. Just being there that first go around, and seeing people jumping over themselves for the a taste of a chocolate chip cookie (any of which are good enough to make you want to slap your momma!) was impressive. That first show set the tone for this next one, and it was sure to be a hit no matter how it went.
Just arriving to the show that first day, it was pretty apparent that we would be in for a repeat of the last year. A new venue, and a whole host of new and exciting things to see and eat would bring the show to another level, and we were stoked to see if the ante had been upped. While this time around we weren’t there at the time of the opening, we were there to see the line that had developed. I think the weird thing that we noticed was that the Cookie Con would only take up half of the hall space in the South Hall. While that is the largest space at the Convention Center, it was a little confusing to us, when we noticed another, non-related convention next door. Kind of weird, but, it in no way affected what it was we were to see inside. And, oh, would we see quite a bit inside.
Since the show was in its second year, we were guaranteed to see things being bigger than before. Not only were there tons of food vendors (many of which we were really happy to see come back), but, there was a space dedicated to the art of dessert decorating. While this may sound like something you could probably scoff at, it’s only when you see cakes decorated like extreme versions of food, or a cake with an Alice and Wonderland theme, that you might change your mind. And believe me, these aren’t the types of cakes that you’ll find at a supermarket, but, something entirely on another level. Beyond that though, there was also a staging area, and an area for celebrity pictures and signings. And, something that was a little different was the VIP area. While we were able to go in and out of this area, but, unless you had paid the extra amount, you were pretty much locked out of this area. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing I don’t think, but, it was a little weird to go into there and see everyone else that was not a ‘VIP’, walk by as they oogled into the area. A little strange, but, nothing too crazy. Perhaps next go around this could be put in an area that is a little more inconspicuous. Either way though, the amount of stuff available was more than last year for sure.
While that is all fine and dandy, the main draw is, and always has been the food. And that is where they definitely didn’t disappoint. Food vendors were selling their finest creations, and, best of all giving out samples of their most delicious treats. Taking that many samples in one run is easily enough to give even the most hardened sugar consumers a heart attack. But, it would definitely be worth it. And that was the point of the show. The community that brings out foodophiles such as myself is one that is always on the cutting edge of what is new in food. I think this show brought together the vendors and the fans like us, and did it in a way that could cater to them. There wasn’t one vendor that I saw that day, that wasn’t happy to be there, and wasn’t just as happy to hand you a sample. That level of customer service was above and beyond what I have seen at a few other shows, and it is a testament to the folks behind the booth. It also helps to butter me up when you hand me a brownie. Let along one that has some sea salt crystals or sprinkles. I just have to point out the folks at Otis Spunkmeyer for example. While they are a major corporation and probably have deeper pockets than some of the smaller vendors, it was almost comical seeing how happy they were to give away samples to folks. That may sound ludicrous, but, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The fervor that their staff had in dolling out sample after sample was commendable and should be rewarded. I know I walked away with several brownie bites and cookies, and couldn’t be happier.
The food was definitely the star of the show, and rightfully so. There was a nice mix of cookies, cupcakes, and sweet treats from different backgrounds making an appearance. It was also welcome to see a bit of savory food there as well. While it was only the second show, I can totally see the ‘con expanding into a range of different food types. There was a booth handing out samples of a variety of pickles and even one that specialized in beef jerky (we’re talking about Banzai Jerky). Probably the best booth to see, was one that you wouldn’t even expect. There was a booth that was giving away samples of Organic Milk. This was a godsend, and it was easily one of my go-to booths there. Having more fluids at the ready made taking in the extra sugar that much more easier. I’m guessing that we’ll see more of that next go around. One vendor that it was nice to see once again was Albert’s Petite Sweets. Albert is a true gentleman, and having a moment to chat with the man himself has always proved to be a pleasure. Albert, like many of the owners/creators at the Cookie Con, is extremely passionate about his work, and you can tell that he takes a lot of pride in interacting with everyone that walked by that day. Again, it helped that being around like-minded food fanatics sure added to the ambiance and allowed such relationships to bloom. Albert was just one of many folks that had such a positive attitude throughout the two days of the event.
The food was on point this time around and we were very lucky to see a list of expanded celebrities. This is an added bonus to the show, and one that adds to that mystique that you don’t get in a lot of food events. I think the added draw is a welcome edition, and one that could disappoint, but, thankfully, it didn’t in this case. For this year, the list was great, and offered up a few surprises. While Ben Israel made his return to the show, we were also treated to an appearance by Duff Goldman (from the show Ace of Cakes), Sarah Michelle Gellar (of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Claudia Sandoval (winner of Masterchef 6) and the biggest surprise to me, Rosanna Pansino (Youtube star and baking sensation). There were plenty more that were at the show, but, it was those few that brought the most noise those two days. Duff Goldman brought out one of the tallest cakes I had ever seen onto the stage, and I was nervous that it might tip over. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, and for the lucky few that were sitting down, they were given a piece of this almost too-good-looking to eat cake. He really knows how to handle a crowd, and everyone there was getting into it. But, while that was cool, nothing prepared me for the madness I saw when Rosanna (Pansino) showed up.
I’ll admit that, up until this show, I had never heard of Rosanna. That may seem like blasphemy to many of you, but, you have to understand, in this day of massive content at nearly every turn, it’s just one person that I had never come across. So, when I saw her name appear on the schedule, I was a little confused. But, like any self-respecting media person, I decided to do a little detective work and see who she was. Little did I know what a surprise that would be. I was amazed to know that this person was not only a Youtube (and social media) personality, but, she was hugely popular around the globe. If you have ever had the pleasure of watching any of her videos, it’s easy to see her personality, and how it’s so appealing. There may be other bakers on Youtube, but, very few can match her skills and knack for delivering on some clever recipes. It’s not anywhere where you can see someone put together brownies in the shape of the Instagram logo. And, before you say anything, yes, I am on a brownie kick today, and that explains my fascination with them today. But yeah, it’s a great channel (Nerdy Nummies on Youtube), and it made me just as excited to see her at the show.
When Rosanna arrived on stage, the crowd that was waiting, went nuts. Her fans are mostly of the younger crowd, and the wails of happiness were sure as hell echoing through the hall that day. This tiny, yet mighty host brought the crowd to their feet, and did so in the most adorable way possible. And when it came to interacting with the audience during her Q&A time, I had witnessed something I had never seen before. Near the front row of the (seated) audience was a group of teenage, or pre-teenage fans. They came to the show prepared to show their admiration of Ro, carrying signs and yelling their support for her. When one of them was chosen to ask Rosanna a question, the girl who was about to speak began to cry. She was so overwhelmed to be in the presence of her (Ro), that she was overcome with emotion. Her friends couldn’t do anything but feel for her, and tried helping her out. Even Ro was touched by the moment. It was one of the cutest things I had ever seen, and also amazing to see the effect that one person can have on someone. The topic may have been food and how Rosanna became who she was, it quickly became about the people in the audience. And, when they had their opportunity to meet and greet with her after, the massive line that formed up wasn’t surprising. It was definitely a heartfelt moment. So much so, that I ended up buying her book and will be putting my own baking skills to the test. For her sake and for mine, let’s hope I don’t burn my house down.
But, that is what the LA Cookie Con was all about. Bringing together people from all over, and helping to create an environment they would be happy to be in. Whether you are there for the celebrities, the amazingly decorated cakes, or even the chocolate cupcakes with bacon bits sprinkled over them (om nom nom), there’s going to be something for you. Sure, there are things that need to be improved (such as the check in-lines), but, that’s not what you go to events for. You go to these events for those moments. Moments that will excite and educate. Moments that will allow you to share your passion with others just as like minded as you. Moments that you can share with those around you, and that you won’t soon forget. I guarantee you that, the girl that began to cry during that segment with Rosanna was not for one second thinking about the lines outside. And I can honestly say that neither was I. For that and for the many new friends we made that day, we highly recommend checking out this show. If the show can be that entertaining in only it’s second year, and during Super Bowl weekend no less, then, we are sure to be in for a treat the next time the LA Cookie Con rolls into town.
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
For more information on The Los Angeles Cookie Con, check out their website at http://www.lacookiecon.com
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.