Is Michelle Gayer, local superstar baker behind Minneapolis fave bakery Salty Tart, about to be launched into the reality cooking show stratosphere as a judge on the forthcoming CBS show the Great American Bake Off? This was the first question I needed to ask her when I called up to find out about her annual charity Cakewalk. The reason I needed to ask her this? She was in California, where CBS had flown her out to audition.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” she told me, from the passenger seat of a car driving in sunny California. “They only need one female judge, the way the show works is it’s one guy and one girl, and they’re bringing the guy in from the British version. So I was in a room with a bunch of women, Christina Tosi [the baker at Momofuku Milk Bar] and I were the only pastry chefs. Everyone else had a Food Network show. Everyone was saying: I have a show, I’m sorry I don’t watch your show . . . I heard that so many times. We were in this crazy location, you go from the underground parking up some crazy way to sit in front of nine CBS executives, with the British judge, and then contestants come out and you have to eat their stuff and critique it. The first thing I had was some chianti-spiked cupcake with mascarpone prosciutto mousse—I was like, ‘This is what you did to mascarpone? You actually should be shot.’ I might have gotten too worked up. I think they’re going to give it to this old lady. That’s what they have in England, this British guy, and an old lady. I don’t know.”
So we don’t know if Michelle “Salty Tart” Gayer will be the next food TV superstar. We just don’t know. But if you want to pester Gayer for up-to-the-minute updates, why not buy tickets to the premiere pastry event of the Twin Cities year, Gayer’s Share Our Strength fundraiser, the Minneapolis Cakewalk, emceed by our very own food and dining editor, Stephanie March.
Here’s the scoop. The Cakewalk is taking place at Aria at the Jeune Lune on Feb. 28, and it has many, many components.
Component one: It’s a big rockabilly dance party this year, so roll up your T-shirt sleeves and find your best rockabilly shoes.
Component two: An actual cakewalk with cake prizes from some of the most gifted pastry chefs in the Twin Cities, including Zoe Francois, of zoebakes.com fame, and Abby Jimenez of NadiaCakes, former winner of the television show Cupcake Wars.
Component four: A bourbon-and-sausage room, from Butcher and the Boar!
Component six: Super elite pastry snacks, from a who’s-who of the best pastry chefs in town, including up-and-coming star Alexandra Motz of Union, Kara Younkin of St. Paul knee-weakener Bars Bakery, and many more. Is there a more significant calendar event in the Minnesota pastry chef year? No, there is not. But that’s not why you should go. You should go because of . . .
Component seven: It’s for an incredibly important, good cause.
“Last year it was at the Fine Line, and we raised $27,000. Every dime, every penny went to a Minnesota food shelter,” Gayer said. “I can’t stand the idea that there are kids in school who are sitting there, they didn’t get breakfast, they didn’t get dinner, they’re hungry—and they’re supposed to learn. That’s not okay. No part of it is okay. We can’t let kids in our community go hungry. I’m going to take this thing national. We’ll have Cakewalks coast to coast, and we’re going to have a great time, and we’re going to raise a lot of money and feed kids.” And as an added bonus, national network television gossip. Go!
Updated 2/19/13 10:24 a.m.