Cookies, beer, and drunken holiday merriment were abundant at Union Pool last Sunday night, at the 2nd Annual Cookie Contest and Sing-A-Long, hosted and judged by Jessica and Brad Lauretti of This Frontier Needs Heroes, Rusty Dungan of Justice of the Unicorns, and Jason Lam, Me So Hungry food blogger and also a member of Justice of the Unicorns.
A steady stream of friends and bakers came in from the cold throughout the night, presenting their cookie creations to hungry attendants and the judges, vying for prizes like a tower of Ramen instant noodles packets, and the ultimate award— a sizeable engraved trophy, hand picked by Lam for the occasion. While people munched, drank, and basked in the cookie smells, the bands, including Justice of the Unicorns, This Frontier Needs Heroes, Class Actress, Marcellus Hall, Family Band, Cat Martino, Suzan Hurtuk, Feather and Folly, The Leo Bros., and the Basement Band, played holiday songs for people to sing along to.
“We did the first one last year because we wanted to do a Christmas-y party,” Jessica Lauretti said. “We had ten or twelve different bands doing Christmas songs. It was super fun. Last year we almost forgot to judge.”
Lauretti herself contributed to the contest, though her entry technically wasn’t a cookie— chocolate with sea salt, cayenne roasted pecans, dried cherries, and white chocolate drizzle.
There were plenty of other entries, ranging from the standard chocolate chip to a daring savory entry— PBR Cookies, which were cheesy, crumbly, and slightly addictive if not a little jarring, and which were praised by Lam for their quirkiness. That said, Lam has been known to make a carbohydrate-casserole out of Pillsbury pizza crust , mashed potatoes with egg noodles, stuffing, and cheese (“I think it needed tater tots,” he conceded).
Other cookies included Nuanced Molasses Séance cookies, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunky Funk cookies, Psychedelic Sugar Cookies, and heart-shaped Ginger Bread cookies, to name just a few. The judging process was pretty informal, but the winners that emerged included Peanut Butter Balls, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Coconut Lemon Bars. The Grand Prize, however, went to Bonnie Gang’s 100 Proof Bourbon Balls, which tasted exactly how they sound and were gobbled up quite early on in the night.
Full disclosure: Bonnie Gang is Lam’s roommate, but he insists that though it seemed rigged, “everyone kept talking about her balls.” Last year, in fact, Gang was one of the only contestants NOT to receive a prize.
“She stepped her game and probably wanted vengeance,” Lam said.
Lam’s food blog, Me So Hungry, in which me mostly reviews hole-in-the-wall restaurants and interesting ethnic food, has existed for just over a year, and gets anywhere from 400-1000 hits per day.
“I haven’t told many people about this, but I was learning how to pick up girls, and it somehow turned into having a food blog,” Lam admitted. “Did it work? No, You can’t pick up girls like that. You just talk about food! But I think learning how to pick up girls became learning about myself, including learning about what I was passionate about.”
Besides his band, Lam, 32, works in children’s television. And while he has a food blog, he admits he’s not much of a cook.
“It’s mostly weird stuff that I make up, like that carbohydrate casserole. Lately I’ve been into more traditional things, like making soup or roasting something, or using a crock-pot,” Lam said. “I’m not much of a baker. I did make my first crescent rolls for thanksgiving— the Pillsbury ones from the can. I burnt some.”
Luckily his duty at the cookie contest was contained to tasting, not baking.
“I think everyone felt really good about themselves, whether they performed, made cookies, or just ate the cookies,” Lam said. “Even people that just wandered in wondering what all the cookies were about—they were amazed that people would take the time to make all those cookies and have it be a free-for-all. Their eyes got big and so did their smile…it really was witnessing the holiday spirit.”