Community indulges taste for literature at Edible Book Festival


Photo: Jacob Balough/Iowa State Daily

The entry “The Mad Reader” shows off its book as it wins an honorable mention.

Cristobal Matibag

Ames residents showed their flair for design and cuisine Friday when the Parks Library Preservation Department held its first Edible Book Festival. Twenty-six contestants submitted food items inspired by books, which were displayed from late morning to early afternoon in the Bookends Reading Room.

Contestants paid homage to a wide range of books with their dishes. Some honored the classics. Others nodded to more contemporary titles.

Emma Grinde, sophomore in food science, duplicated the cover design of “The Great Gatsby” on a cake.

Library assistant Melinda Moeller represented the mystery novel “Sugar Cookie Murder” with an array of sugar cookies decorated to look like victims of violent crimes.

Ed Astarita of ISU Dining and Ashley Arnold, freshman in anthropology, both submitted entries inspired by “Alice in Wonderland.” Arnold’s entry was a frosting-covered bust of the book’s Mad Hatter character made from rice cereal treats. Astarita’s was a large cake decorated to resemble an illustrated volume of the children’s story.

Visitors to the festival were invited to vote for their favorite entries in three categories — Wittiest, Best Book Structure and Best in Show.

The award for wittiest entry went to Ames High sophomore Alli Kroeger, who submitted a “Lord of the Rings”-inspired chicken wing structure she called “Lord of the Wings.”

Honors for Best Book Structure went to Astarita for his “Alice in Wonderland” cake.

ISU sophomores Melissa Fallon, Emily Westhoff and Allie Adams won Best in Show for a cake inspired by the book “Water for Elephants.” 

A three-judge panel selected the winner of a Critics’ Choice award. The panel — composed of apparel education studies and hospitality management lecturer John Kramer, associate professor of graphic design Paula Curran and associate professor of library science Diana Shonrock — gave the award to Ames baker Julie Hutson for her tribute to “Green Eggs and Ham.”

At the close of the festival, library associate Melissa Tedone judged it a success.

“I feel really positively about how it went,” Tedone said. “I hope we get to do it again.”