7800 cookies in one room. Any questions?

By PHILIP EIL  |  December 5, 2013


There are two ways we can set the stage for the RI Food Fights “Spectacular Cookie Smackdown” happening Sunday, December 8, in Providence.

On one hand, we could lay out the pertinent background facts, like how this is the tenth-ever RIFF event or how previous incarnations have focused on cupcakes, seafood, ice cream, and buffalo wings, while others have pitted restaurants from the East side of Providence (Vanity, Cook & Brown Public House, The Duck & Bunny) against joints on the West side (The Grange, Julian’s, north).

We could tell you that, when asked about his cookie philosophy, the chief judge for the event — master chocolatier and the owner of Garrison Confections in Central Falls, Andrew Shotts — told us, “Some people will go crazy and try to put [in] five different inclusions and all this crazy stuff and toppings and drizzle. They go off the deep end trying to show everything they know how to do, but it ends up ruining the cookie. Simple is always the best . . . Clean flavors. That’s the way to go.”

We could tell you that last year’s winner was a frosted chocolate cookie from Eye Cookies in Barrington that featured a likeness of the South Korean pop star, Psy — mid-“Gagnam Style” horse-hop, of course — drawn in icing.

And we could also tell you about Jim Nellis, the Georgia-born, investment-banker-turned-social-media-consultant who is the mastermind behind RI Food Fights. After all, Nellis’s social media exploits are the reason we heard about the series in the first place. In the past year, Nellis has used Facebook and others sites to corral crowds in support of the urban gardening supply store Cluck! during its zoning battle early this year, to help raise enough funds for the Central Fall chess team to travel to Super-Nationals in Nashville, and to stoke the rabid fandom of more than 85,000 Facebook users who have “Liked” the “Between the Hedges” page he created for his alma mater, the University of Georgia. “I’m not the best person in social media,” Nellis says with a smile and a faint Southern drawl. “But I’m the best person that you have access to.” Nellis’s rates for monthly social media consulting have more than quadrupled since he launched his business, waybetter media, in 2010, he says. (If you’re curious, he shared a list of the five Facebook no-no’s for businesses that we’ve posted to our “Not for Nothing” blog at providencephoenix.com.)

The other way to introduce the Cookie Smackdown would be to simply tell you that there will be more than 7800 cookies inside Fête on Sunday afternoon, and once guests have paid their $10 admission, they’re welcome to gorge as aggressively as they want. After some dogged investigation — purely in the pursuit of Truth and Righteousness, of course — the Phoenix has learned a bit more about what this smackdown smorgasbord will offer. It’ll include apple cider-caramel cookies and a chocolate-peanut-butter-oats concoction called a “Moose Nugget” from Woonsocket’s Under the Olive Tree Fine Cakes and Pastries; milk chocolate-almond-peanut-butter-Heath biscotti from Lynne’s Dolce e Panne in Providence; white chocolate-cherry-oatmeal cookies from Sweet Addiction bakery in Barrington; and a “trail mix cookie” featuring coconut and Craisins from Sarcastic Sweets in Providence, among other delights.

You didn’t think we’d make it to year’s end without one shamelessly decadent story about baked goods, did you?

The “Spectacular Cookie Smackdown” is at Fête, 103 Dike St, Providence, on Sunday, December 8 from 1 -3 pm. More info at rifoodfights.ticketleap.com/best-cookies-in-ri or facebook.com/RIFoodFights.

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