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Not missing out on any sweet tooth satisfaction, Dessert Goals decided to go digital like many in-person events this year, on account of COVID-19 safety concerns. I have been to every single NYC Dessert Goals festival since its inception in 2016 and was planning on attending their May experience, but the ongoing pandemic had other plans.
Picture yourself wandering a room filled with sweets as far as the eye can see, sampling vendors you otherwise wouldn’t have discovered and toting home some tasty treats in the process. This was the event I looked forward to with each announced theme and vendor list, which is why I was heartbroken to hear it was not taking place—at least not in person. So, when the team behind my favorite bi-annual, dessert-centric festival reached out to see if I wanted to join in on their first-ever Digital Dessert Goals, I couldn’t say no.
2020 has had its up and downs, and although some of us have gained a few pounds during our days and hours spent at home, something sweet certainly helps us through all the emotions we’re feeling. Although the format was a bit different, Dessert Goals founder, Miraya Berke, was determined to make sure the experience was still a great one.
The festival itself boasted a full schedule of pre-recorded and live content, available to ticket-holders from July 31st-August 9th, with the vendor marketplace available beforehand. Live panels included a Food Influencer Panel with @brunchboys (aka Jeremy Jacobowitz), @thehungryhutch (aka Aaron Hutcherson), @foodieinnewyork (aka Vallery Lomas), and @atasteofkoko (aka Jane Ko), where they all gave some valuable advice for those looking to break into this immensely saturated market—and commiserated with those of us who don’t have a problem with cooking, but would love to avoid the cleaning at all costs. They also had a panel for those who are looking to start their own food business, with advice from several business-owners, both new and old, including useful tips from Lucia Rios (Founder, Twisted For Sugar) who stated, “don’t be afraid because you don’t have experience or a formal background”, “we have the beautiful world wide web” for help with all of that.
Tipsy Scoop, an NYC favorite known for their spiked ice cream ‘barlour’ and crazy concoctions, hosted a Boozy Cocktail demo that would cool you off and spice up any cocktail hour, followed by Michael Platt, a No Kid Hungry advocate who founded his dessert company at 11 years old in 2017, donating a dessert to someone in need for every one purchased. He provided us with a demo on how to make ice cream in a bag, no machine needed!
A welcome new addition to this year’s line-up was a workout sponsored by POUND, a cardio jam workout, similar to 305 Fitness, where drumming is emphasized and produces sweat that makes you feel way less guilty about the sweets—it would be perfect for in-person programming. Other great additions included a Ruby Chocolate Macaroon baking session with Red Velvet NYC (a make-at-home kit was sold at a discounted price for those who wanted to follow along), a very informative masterclass on Food Photography with your Phone by Lindsay Nathanson (Founder, Sprinkles for Breakfast) and a Bakers Against Racism keynote with Willa Pelini and Melanie Lino.
Making sure everyone was still able to interact with one another, founder, Miraya, hosted a Slack channel dedicated to all things Dessert Goals, where those with tickets were invited to join in offline discussions, ask more questions, post photos, or just connect with others. At the end of each day of programming, she also hosted a live Zoom session for participants, where everyone was split into breakout rooms to meet and mingle with each other and get to know her as well.
Now on to the vendors! Included with each ticket was access to the Vendor Marketplace, providing discounts to favorites like Little Red Kitchen Bake Shop, Spoonable Spirits, The Cookie Gram Co., Kouklet Bakehouse, Insomnia Cookies, Eggloo, and Mini Melanie, along with many others. Also provided were virtual goody bags (no free treats, unfortunately) which included even more discount codes to brands like Smashmallow, Daily Harvest, and even Care/of (to take care of post sugar rush vitamin needs).
The festival was certainly not what you would’ve experienced in person, but it was just as incredibly well planned out as the event we know it to be. For instance, how the staff and guests interacted with “attendees” spreading the message of safety, while also still allowing for some indulgences. This time around, we traded in-person vendors for deals on delivered products, Instagram photo walls for colorful Zoom backgrounds, and live panels for Zoom demos and sessions. So while we didn’t get to sample small amounts of desserts in a room full of people, we still got to experience something pretty sweet. I for one look forward to my make-your-own waffle kit from Eggloo, so I can recreate their delicious ice cream-filled, fresh bubble waffles at home!