Cupcake Challenge to take place at UB’s Center for the Arts

Ticket holders can judge an array of cupcake creations at third annual Cupcake Challenge


 On March 9, students will get the chance to become cupcake aficionados for a day when UB hosts Western New York’s third annual Cupcake Challenge in the Center for the Arts at 6 p.m.

For the challenge, local bakeries will compete for the title of Western  New York's best cupcake, and this year’s event features a variety of cupcake experts, from Grand Island to downtown Buffalo.

Contestants are judged based on their cupcake’s taste, creativity and presentation and overall presentation of their stand. Students who purchase tickets to attend the event will be judging the cupcakes, based on which group has the best-tasting, most creative treat.

Last year’s champion, Baked Cupcakery, will return to fight for its title as the bakery with WNY’s best cupcake.

Jonathan Bondi, owner of Baked Cupcakery, won last year’s competition with his Twix cupcake creation. It featured a shortbread crust, topped with a layer of chocolate cake, followed by caramel, then a chocolate and caramel swirled buttercream frosting topped off with the famous candy that the cupcake imitates, the Twix bar.

Bondi said he’s not sure yet what they plan to do this year, but he believes his company’s “creative and modern edge” on the older, well-established competitors will help them win their second year in a row.

“I’m excited for this year but last year’s was just insanity,” Bondi said. “You had so many people just grabbing at your table, you couldn’t keep track of who had taken one or five cupcakes, and the whole thing was just chaos,”

The Bondi family recently opened a second location on Main St in Williamsville, which he said will make this year fun because a lot of their business is from around UB.

The event is sponsored by the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, but is organized through KISS 98.5.

Jud Heussler, who worked to organize the event all three years, said they expect it to run a bit smoother this year with experience from past years, and a larger venue.

Those with dietary restrictions can also enjoy the event since many vegan and gluten-free bakeries like “A Better Way Gluten Free Bakery” have stepped up to challenge the traditional cupcake model of sugar, butter, and flour.

Competitor Julia Badgley, chief operating officer of Sweet Fortunes Cupcakes, said unlike the other competitors, she isn’t looking for the first-place prize.

Sweet Fortunes is part of the high school business program, Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE). Their product features a signature “fortune” in the center of the cupcake, which Badgley said makes their cupcakes unique.

Two years ago, Sweet Fortunes won a national championship for their business, and went on to compete in Seoul, South Korea to win third internationally.

The Cupcake Challenge will be Sweet Fortunes Cupcakes’ first purely cupcake-based competition, and Badgley said she and her friends are eager to see how their cupcakes hold up to some of the best bakeries in the region.

“It’ll be a little intimidating because these are real professional businesses, but it’s mostly just exciting,” Badgley said. “Last year, we found out about the challenge too late to enter, but we went and we learned so much just from looking and trying different places’ cupcakes.” 

Sarah Crowley is a news staff writer and can be reached at