We are excited to announce the panel of judges for this year’s competition at Cupcakes & Cocktails! These judges will sample the creative cupcakes each contestant has concocted and choose the winner.
Chapel Hill Town Council
George and his wife Cresha have called Chapel Hill their home since 1989. George is currently an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology at Duke University. Over the last 14 years, Dr. Cianciolo has served on and chaired several Chapel Hill Town advisory boards. He also co-chaired the Chapel Hill 2020 process for preparing a new Town Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by the Chapel Hill Town Council in June 2012. George served as the President of the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation from 2009-2013, currently serves on both the Library Foundation Board as well as the Board of Directors of the Chapel Hill-Orange County Visitors Bureau, and in 2013 he was elected to a 4-year term on the Chapel Hill Town Council.
2015 Best Cupcake Winner
Shannon Reisdorf was the 2015 Cupcakes & Cocktails Champion. She was born and raised in Western New York, where her love of baking began while helping her dad make cookies. She worked in a small-town bakery during high school and college, where her favorite things to make were pies and pastries. Today she works at UNC, but still loves to bake for friends and family. She lives in Durham with her wife, cat, and three dogs. Shannon is excited to be a judge this year and is looking forward to seeing what all the other bakers have created!
Chef Amy Tornquist has been recognized nationally for her North Carolina cuisine, first at her own Sage & Swift Gourmet Catering Company, then the Nasher Museum Café. Now, she is pleased to offer her distinctive cooking at her own Watts Grocery. Amy’s locally spun seasonal dishes have been treasured by fans for years and received rave reviews in Food & Wine, Country Home, and Elegant Bride. Her menu at Watts Grocery offers a mix of classic favorites and Carolina tradition, all defined by what’s grown locally and seasonally.
Al’s Burger Shack
Al’s Burger Shack was born out of Al Bowers’ dream to serve good food and to make people happy. In 2013, Al left Merritt’s Store & Grill to open his very own restaurant.
Since it’s opening, Al’s Burger Shack has won awards for Best New Restaurant, Best Burger in the South, and Top 5 Burgers of All Time. Al can almost always be spotted behind the counter cooking up food or conversing with his customers.
Ruth Gierisch is the Advertising Director at INDY Week – a company she’s been with since June of 2000. Ruth and her partner share their North Durham home with their fur babies: Tank, Little, and Jesse. Her favorite things include baked goods, gardening, animals big and small, running, and making people laugh.