students looking at their cakes
Baking students and their cakes ahead of the King’s Hawaiian Product Development Competition (Photo credit: UH Maui College Culinary Arts Program)

For many weeks and countless hours, baking students at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Culinary Arts Program dreamt up, put down on paper, baked, revised, baked again and decorated original recipe cakes to compete in a product development competition sponsored by the iconic company King’s Hawaiian.

chocolate kona coffee fruit cake
Chocolate Kona Coffee Fruit Cake (Photo credit: UH Maui College Culinary Arts Program)

The students were charged with creating three-layer, refrigerated cakes “made of sweet, soft based cake sponges with light, sweet creamy fillings. The cakes and decorations must be durable enough to stay intact through delivery to grocery stores, display and customers transport home.” And, of course, they needed to highlight Hawaiʻi flavors and ingredients.

In the end, after five judges (all UH Maui College Culinary Arts Baking alumni) tasted 10 delicious and beautiful cakes in two categories—Tropical and Chocolate—they unanimously chose Amber Kalish’s POG Cake and Dana Lynn Soriano’s Chocolate Kona Coffee Fruit Cake. Each winner was awarded $1,000 from King’s Hawaiian.

P O G cake
POG Cake (Photo credit: UH Maui College Culinary Arts Program)

Leading the judge’s panel was UH Maui College Culinary Arts Alumnus Pastry Chef Jeremy Choo. He is now the innovation pastry chef—Office of Hawaiian Foods for King’s Hawaiian. “We’ve done these kinds of competitions before at [Kapiʻolani Community College] and I was thrilled to be able to bring this one to Maui,” he says.

Jordan Frank, King’s Hawaiian director of product development and innovation also traveled to Maui for the competition from the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles. He was duly impressed and explained that there is certainly a chance that the winning concepts or a component or components of one of those concepts might find their way into a future King’s Hawaiian commercial product.

UH Maui College Culinary Arts Program Director and Pastry Chef Teresa Shurilla and Pastry Chef Instructor Hannah Stanchfield shepherded their students through the process and were extremely proud of all of them. “All the participating students came up with such imaginative concepts and worked so hard to bring them to life on the cake plates!” says Shurilla. “As I always say, friendly competition is a great motivator.”

pastry chefs and student
From left, Hannah Stanchfield, Amber Kalish, Jeremy Choo and Teresa Shurilla (Photo credit: UH Maui College Culinary Arts Program)