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The prestigious award given to the winner of the annual HDS Bake Off. Photo by Aisha Ansano

The prestigious award given to the winner of the annual HDS Bake Off. Photo by Aisha Ansano

There are a lot of words I would use to describe the people at HDS: passionate, caring, enthusiastic, studious, silly, impressive, well-rounded…the list goes on and on. But after attending the annual HDS Bake Off this year, I have to add another descriptor to the list: cutthroat.

Now, to be fair, there are much worse things to be cutthroat about than baking the best treat and raising the most money for charity. We gladly support each other in academic and personal endeavors, cheering for each others’ achievements and helping each other in hard times. But give us the chance to have our name engraved on a plaque adorned with a whisk, and all bets are off.

I spent the evening before the Bake Off making French macarons with raspberry buttercream, and was pretty proud of them. I may have engaged in some trash talk with Tim Whelsky, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, about how I was going to beat him and win the Bake Off, which I regretted when his pistachio puffs not only took first place but also won the judges’ prize. I watched serious bidding wars take place over delicious baked goods, like the chocolate peanut butter rice krispies treats and the peanut butter cup cheesecake. I was watched like a hawk anytime I talked to one of the tasters by other entrants who were sure I was going to tip off friends as to which entry was mine, to rack up votes.

In the end, though, we all cheered at the fact that the $5 tasting fees and silent auction raised $509 for the Elizabeth Stone House—a local non-profit that helps homeless people who are suffering from domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental illness “attain and maintain permanent housing, personal safety, and economic stability.”

The Bake Off embodies so many of the things I love about HDS: community, food, supporting good causes, and the fact that we find many things important and necessary, in addition to our academics. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Bake Off, to see what people whip up in their kitchens. And I might be using my study breaks during finals to try out recipes to beat Tim…

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