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Sweet Taste of Victory: Man's Cupcakes Win the War

Laboda wins 2nd Annual Cupcake Wars at Hillcrest Hospital

Everyone at knows Shawn Laboda is an organized guy, keeping all the equipment in its right place and in top shape in the surgical ward.

And while many knew he was pretty handy in the kitchen, they might not have realized just how good he really is when it comes to the fine art of cupcake making.

After his “Shawn S’mores” won the in a field of 35 contenders Thursday, they certainly know now.

Better yet, Laboda’s fine goodies led the way in helping benefit the American Heart Association through the sale of each cupcake for around $2.50.

Prizes were awarded to the best cupcake in each of five categories, but Laboda, a surgical materials technician at Hillcrest, picked up the $50 cash prize for the overall "Best in Show" cupcake. And a little encouragement and guidance from his wife certainly didn’t hurt, either.

“I had made them before with a little bit different recipe, brought them in and a lot of people liked them. And I was tweaking with some other (recipes). My wife kind of got me into baking. She’s better than I am,” Laboda, 27, said.

The time of the year was also an inspiration, too.

“It’s just summer, s’mores, camping. It’s just kind of the whole feeling I got for this time of year. So they tasted good when I ate them.”

Laboda wasn’t alone in impressing a panel of celebrity judges. Event organizer and Radiology Department Staff Technologist Mary Ozello had an inventive cupcake of her own called the Tomato Basil that won the Heart Health competition.

“It’d be good with a glass of wine,” Lorena Hewitt, a contest judge and manager of cardio pulmonary services, said with admiration.

Ozello also designed cupcakes with a mere 127 calories. How did she do it? With an avocado, of course.

“I wanted to do something different,” Ozello said. “An avocado is high in fat, but it’s a healthier fat because it is plant-based. I replaced half the oil with avocado puree.”

Those who had the pleasure of sampling and judging the goodies included attorney, former Cleveland Browns coach and three Hillcrest staffers with , regional vice president of cardio vascular services; Patrice Began, RN nurse manager at 3 West Tower and Hewitt.

The winning cupcakes were:

• Overall – Shawn Laboda: Shawn’s S’mores

• Specialty – Shawn Laboda: Shawn’s S’mores

• Professional – Tomaydo Tomahdo: Red Velvet

• Youth – Claire Mitzi: Chocolate explosion

• Anything Goes – Susan Albright: Strawberry Cream Cheese, sugar free

• Heart Healthy – Mary Ozello: Tomato Basil

• Presentation – Nicole Peluso: Bomb Popsicle; Sara Powell: Carnival Confections; Samantha McMillan: Minion Cakes. All won in a three-way tie.

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