BY KATHY KNIGHT
Rebecca (Becky) Lougheed of Greeneville, winner of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's 18th Annual Cake Decorating Challenge, came home from the Florida competition Wednesday to an excited welcome.
The finals of the national Decorating Challenge took place in Orlando on June 2-4.
When Lougheed returned to her home store, the Food City on Snapps Ferry Road on Wednesday evening, she was greeted by senior company officials, co-workers and family at a reception.
Her family includes husband Aaron, and three children -- Max, age three; Benjamin, seven; and Mercedes, 10.
"I want to say thanks to my husband for his support and to Food City for their terrific support," Lougheed said. "It's a great honor, and I think I'm still processing the whole thing."
27 KINDS OF CAKES
She told The Greeneville Sun that she prepared 27 kinds of cakes during the three-day event.
"The purpose of the first day was to show the 'bread and butter' of what stores can offer to their customers," Lougheed said.
"The second day we (the contestants) made a wedding cake, and I had spent many hours (in Greeneville) making the flowers to take down with me," she said.
"The third day was for making a free-style special event cake, and I made a snake."
David Haaf, director of Bakery-Deli Operations for Food City, who served as emcee for the reception, said, "She's a true winner and takes a lot of pride in her work. Although Becky won the award, she was still fussing about not doing her last cake just exactly as she had meant to do."
The crowd laughed when her husband interjected, "That's what she was talking about in the car when I picked her up."
MANY HOURS OF PREPARATION
Although the competition took place from noon to 5 p.m. during the three days in Orlando, Lougheed's hours of work started long before that in preparation.
She began early each day, but had spent many hours in practice prior to going to Florida.
Haaf, the Food City executive, attended the competition in Orlando.
"All three of the finalists were very talented," Haaf said in an exclusive interview with the Sun, "but in my opinion, Becky's cakes showed her versatility, her skill sets with her borders, flowers, and her technique.
"We hope that Becky will be able to help train others in this field."
Haaf told those at the reception, "We were ecstatic when they made the announcement."
He noted that 64 retailers from across the nation had entered more than 100 entries in the competition. "The fact that Lougheed was chosen as one of the Top Three was an honor in itself," Haaf said.
'WE'RE SO PROUD OF YOU'
Jesse Lewis, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Food City, said, "I can't help but think of what Barney Fife would say in this situation: 'That's big! That's really big!'
"And this award is 'really big'! I speak for the 13,000-plus associates and CEO Steve Smith when I say we are so proud of you, and this is great for our company."
Also speaking was Johnny Cecil, Vice President of the chain's Tri-City Division, who stated, "This award is really a thing of pride -- it is a big accomplishment and really special to all of us."
Roger Cutshall, manager of Food City on Snapps Ferry Road, added, "We are so proud of Becky and the beautiful cakes she creates all of the time."
Second place went to Kelli Coleman, of Dillons Store, in Lawrence, Kan., and the third-place winner was Dawnette Costa, of Giant Eagle, Inc., in Erie, Pa.
Contestants received an all-expenses-paid trip to Orlando, gifts, trophies, bragging rights, and publicity.
Watch for an upcoming ACCENT feature story on Lougheed, with more details about her, and the details of her craft.