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Gambit presents: For the Love of Sweets Challenge
Saturday, January 31 • 1-3 pm

Shop for the perfect gift at The Shops at Canal Place.
The Shops at Canal Place

Get styling tips from ALG Style.

Compete to enter to win a $250 Canal Place Gift Card in a 'Shops Scavenger Hunt'

Purchase and sample delicious treats from local restaurants and bakeries.

And select the winning chef at Gambit's inaugural dessert competition

For the Love of Sweets Challenge

The tasting portion of the event has reached maximum capacity.
Registration for tasting tickets is now closed.

Samples will be available on a first come-first served basis to ticketed attendees.
Larger portions of some desserts may be available for purchase by the public.
Event starts at 1:00 pm. (Voting ends at 2:30 pm)

Stores will be open from 10am - 8pm to shop for Valentine's Day gifts.

Email us if you have any other questions.


Erin Swanson

Chef Erin Swanson

Restaurant R’evolution

Erin Swanson grew up in Gurnee, Illinois and was strongly influenced and inspired by Julia Child, Susan Spicer and Gale Gand among other female chefs. She attended the culinary school at Chicago’s Kendall College and spent her early years after graduation traveling to work in great kitchens throughout Aspen, CO, Jupiter, FL and under Chef Rick Tramonto in Chicago, IL.

Chef Tramonto chose Swanson as the Pastry Chef for his new restaurant R’evoultion when it opened in New Orleans. Swanson excels at using local ingredients to modernize traditional New Orleans desserts, such as her award-winning White Chocolate Bread Pudding Crème Brulee

Chef Shun Li

The Grill Room at The Windsor Court

Chef Shun Li graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a focus in baking and pastry. He honed his skills at the Grande Lakes Resort Ritz Carlton & JW Marriott under Chef Laurent Lhuillier. He then served as Assistant Pastry Chef at the Charleston Place Hotel, and later as Executive Pastry Chef at Sienna Restaurant.

Shun joined Windsor Court in 2008 as Pastry Chef for the entire property, including the hotel’s Four Star Four Diamond fine dining restaurant The Grill Room. He has received numerous accolades including winning the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience 2013 Big Gateaux Show.

Chef Deborah Heyd
The Roosevelt Hotel

Born and Raised in Mesa, Arizona, Deborah Heyd has always had a love for baking. From a young age, she was inspired by her parent’s New Orleans roots and southern traditions. She earned her culinary degree from Scottsdale Community College in 2001 where she began working in hotel kitchens, working her way up from a starting line cook, to a baker, to a sous chef and now in her current role as head pastry chef at The Roosevelt New Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

With more than ten years of experience, Chef Heyd uses her talents to create and refine desserts at The Roosevelt New Orleans. She previously worked at four Marriott locations before happily moving to New Orleans to accept her current position.

Chef Tammy Rink


Tammy Rink is a native New Orleanian, born and raised. Her passion for making pastries started at a young age, making desserts with her grandmother. She earned an undergraduate degree from Nicholls State University and went on to receive a Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, formerly known as California Culinary Academy.

Tammy rejoined the Arnaud’s team in May 2013, bringing her tenure at the restaurant to just over three years. In September, she traveled with the Arnaud’s team to New York City to showcase and prepare the restaurant’s decadent desserts and menu items at the James Beard House.

Chef Hillary Guttman

Laurel Street Bakery

Hillary Guttman opened Laurel Street Bakery as a wholesale establishment in 2004 on Laurel and Octavia Streets. In early August 2005, Hillary expanded the wholesale kitchen into a sit-down retail location. She wanted Laurel Street Bakery to have a coffee shop atmosphere but also be an on-site bakery where people could enjoy fresh oven pastries on site.

Laurel Street Bakery is now located on Broad and Washington where Hillary adheres to the philosophy that simple, homemade food made from scratch is worth the extra effort to produce. The new location features Laurel Street Bakery’s original pastries as well as breakfast, lunch, homemade bagels and gourmet espresso drinks.

Chef Milan Smith

The Hyatt Regency New Orleans

Milan Smith has been the Executive Pastry Chef at Hyatt Regency New Orleans for the past two years, and while producing high volumes for the hotel’s thriving dining outlets, banquet services, and weddings, he manages to remain true to his passion of crafting some of the most creative sweets and pastries around.

A native of St. Lucia, Smith infuses his native Caribbean roots with modern techniques and only the highest quality of seasonal ingredients to create spectacular dessert dishes.

Cake Junkie

Christina Spako / Paris Pearce
Cake Junkies Nola

Cake Junkies Nola creates custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies and other treats to fit any party needs. They work closely with their customers to design the perfect look.

Cake Junkies Nola was started in February of 2014 by Christina Spako and Paris Pearce. Both self taught, Christina and Paris are constantly learning new techniques to expand the possibilities and ensure each customer gets the perfectly unique cake that they are looking for!

Chef Stephanie Bernard

While most friends were applying for office jobs, Stephanie Bernard applied for a pastry position at Commander’s Palace. Although earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Loyola University of New Orleans, she had known from a young age that she wanted to be a chef and knew the best place to learn would be from the first family of Creole cuisine – the Brennans. Starting the summer of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made her stint at Commander’s Palace brief, but presented her with the opportunity to work at Dickie Brennan’s Palace Café. From Palace Café she moved to Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse and oversaw their pastry program.

With Dickie Brennan’s latest venture, Tableau, Stephanie’s years of experience and creativity is on display on the dessert menu.

Richard Bickford

Marielle Dupré/ Nicole Eiden
Windowsill Pies

Windowsill Pies deliver distinctive, heartfelt, handmade pies and tarts made with the best seasonal ingredients. They believe the experience of enjoying real food is a fundamental part of a meaningful life. Every slice is an opportunity to create and share a lasting memory with others.

Their pies and tarts cultivate and nurture friendships in the way that good food has for generations. They are fulfilled by knowing they’ve created something that nourishes those in the community. They strive to make everything beautiful to look at, bringing a sense of art to an everyday afternoon.

Chef Betsy Foster Matthews

P's and Q's

Born and raised in New Orleans, Betsy Foster Matthews descends from a long line of strong Southern women well-versed in, well, pies and quiches.

With a mother from Greenville, Mississippi and a father from New Orleans, inheriting family pie recipes has been Betsy’s rite of passage. She grew up making pies with her mother, Barry, and will carry on the tradition rolling, kneading and chilling in the P’s and Q’s kitchen.

Chef Eric Solar
Mizado Cocina

Chef Eric Solar's family dates back to the the early 1900’s Louisiana, specifically the Morgan City area. He is half Filipino and he has some Spanish heritage (way back though). Eric received his culinary degree from Delgado in 2005. He started with Zea Rotisserie & Grill in June of 2005 (Line cook at Zea Clearview location). He was promoted to Kitchen Manager in 2008 (at the Zea Harahan location). He helped open the Baton Rouge location in February of 2008 and stayed there until the opening of the Covington location in October of 2008.

Mizado Cocina offers modern, Mexican cuisine with authentic Latin American flavors.

Sarah Wood
The New Orleans School of Cooking

Sarah Wood is a Chef Instructor at the New Orleans School of Cooking teaching tourist and locals alike traditional Louisiana dishes. She loves the many opportunities to share and teach New Orleans unique cuisine and local history to people from around the world. Sarah is also the Executive Chef at a private club in New Orleans where she plans, prepares and oversees all the club culinary events and private catering events.

​Graduating with honors from Mississippi University for Women with a Bachelors Degree in Culinary Arts. Sarah joined the renowned restaurant K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen from 2002-2014, starting as in intern and working her way to Sous Chef.

Chef Thomas McGovern

Maple Street Patisserie

Thomas Mc Govern is a graduate of the culinary institute of America in 2006 for baking and pastry. During the start of his careers he worked for a seasonal resort in up state New York and also stared as an extern working for the Ritz Carlton in 2005. He worked his way up through the ranks in their pastry dept. become their pastry chef and then become the Executive Pastry Chef. He worked in several Ritz Carlton hotels including the ‘Ritz Carlton Resort Naples’ and the ‘Ritz Carlton New Orleans’. He has opened several of the Ritz Carlton’s throughout the world adding to his already extensive rapture.

He resigned the Ritz Carlton Resort in Sarasota Florida to come to Maple Street Patisserie to join the team as Ex Pastry Chef. Chef Thomas brings with him his extensive and intricate know how in chocolate and Chocolate work filled rich detail.

Chef Ryan Haro

Haro coffee & chocolate

Ryan Haro provides more than a caffeine boost as owner, proprietor and Executive Chef at HARO coffee & chocolate (located at 703 Carondelet St.). The HARO experience is delivered through a passion for serving organic fair-trade locally roasted coffee, and bean to bar, Grand Cru chocolate.

With over a decade in the hospitality industry, Haro’s relationship with coffee and chocolate initially began on Royal Street at the once Cuccia Chocolate Cafe where he taught himself the complimentary aspects of dessert and coffee before eventually founding Downtown’s business-orientated coffeeHQ.

After spearheading The Green Dot Cafe, the Broadmoor neighborhood’s first after Katrina; Haro’s industry and civic involvement has further been enhanced by his 2015 role as Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Treasurer, Chair of the Communications Committee and President & Founder of the Warehouse District Business Association.

Travis Cheatum

Chef Claudia Melgar
The Kupcake Factory

The Kupcake Factory is New Orleans’ own sweets boutique, locally owned and operated by two native New Orleanians. When Claudia Melgar and her sister Victoria came back to New Orleans after evacuating for Hurricane Katrina, they realized they wouldn’t be able to open their former business. This allowed them to do some soul searching and their love for their city, and for cupcakes, lead them to open The Kupcake Factory in 2008.

Now, with three locations(Veterans, Uptown and Kenner), The Kupcake Factory touts more than 30 original cupcake flavors, all made from scratch with 12 different flavors offered daily.

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