Thursday, November 4, 2010

2010 Judging Panel at CupcakeCamp Charleston

We are delighted to introduce to you this year's judging panel at CupcakeCamp Charleston!

Kristin Smith, Director of Sales, Aloft Charleston 

Kristin Smith has been a foodie long before we called it foodie.  It started with baking cakes, cupcakes, and cookies and has developed into gourmet savory dishes and wine.   These days, she adores all things food and wine related.

She considered culinary school, specifically in pastry and baking, and was accepted into Johnson and Wales University.  At that time, she wanted to be a wedding cake designer.  Getting engaged to be married made her rethink her career, and Kristin decided to venture into Hospitality Management instead.  She enrolled as a double major for Hospitality and Tourism and Business Management at the College of Charleston. 

Hospitality Sales proved to be the best decision for her.  She still gets to work with people and build relationships while being a foodie on the side.  She is constantly reading, watching and taking classes to further her food knowledge. Kristin can be reached at

Akai Antia-obong, Art Director, West Of Newspaper 

Akai Antia-obong is a self-trained Chef who grew up interested in cooking ever since he was a small child.   He remembers his father always having an intense look on his face as if he were trying to see into a crystal ball and make sense out of the blurry images.  As his father cooked, he would season a little bit, give things a taste, then steer the flavors where he wanted them to go.  Many times Akai would get in trouble for trying to imitate his father's alchemist intensity with his own culinary creations.

Akai worked for chain restaurants for a couple of years (Applebee's and Ruby's to name a few) but where he really learned to orchestrate a meal was at Six Tables in Mt. Pleasant where he started as part-time help for the chef.  The chef was amazed that Akai could make a Beurre Blanc without supervision.  Soon after he became Sous Chef and then moonlit as a Head Chef at The Fat Hen in Johns Island before the restaurant found a permanent replacement.

Akai has been teaching cooking classes at In Good Taste (Charleston) for the past three years.  He is also available for personal cooking demonstrations and dinners. Contact Akai at

Chef Bernd Gronert, Instructor Pastry Arts, Trident Technical College

Affectionately known as Chef B. to those who know him from the bakeries and the Charleston area, Chef Bernd Gronert was born in Bad Ems, Germany.  Chef Bernd Gronert studied to be a Chef and Master Pastry Chef in Germany.  He opened a sugar design school in Germany which was in operation until he moved to the United States at 26 years old and joined the  Johnson & Wales University faculty in Providence, Rhode Island to teach chocolate, sugar artistry and advanced decoration.  He also taught for the Charleston and Miami J & W campuses.

After ten years in Rhode Island, he moved to Charleston to teach at Trident Technical College in 1998, and also opened Rococo Bakeries (Charleston, Florence and Summerville locations) together with his twin brother (Chef Armin teaches Pastry Arts for Johnson and Wales at Charlotte, NC and is known as Chef A.).  For two years from 2006-2008, Chef B. showcased his pastries every Friday morning on TV, about 100 live shows!   He also runs his own farm in Ridgeville where he grows a variety of fruits.

Chef B. is the Baking and Pastry Coordinator at Trident Technical College where he oversees nine Pastry instructors and 25 lab classes.  Chef B. can be reached at

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