Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

You say that's your dog? Yep, it's a Tutti Frutti Zoe

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I have come to believe Michelangelo would not be nearly as famous if he'd been forced to create his masterpieces with frozen yogurt instead of paint and marble, although chances are the Sistine Chapel would be a lot tastier.

I reached this conclusion Saturday afternoon when I competed in the first-ever Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt Celebrity Charity Challenge, wherein local media personalities and food bloggers had to whip up artistic creations from frozen yogurt in support of their favourite charities.

The competition was organized by Tutti Frutti, the world's largest self-serve frozen yogurt chain, to benefit local charities and in a sincere and humanitarian effort to get free publicity for the grand opening of its first Winnipeg location, which happens to be in the food court at Polo Park shopping centre.

I was once again competing for the Winnipeg Humane Society, so once again I decided to create a masterpiece in the likeness of one of our three dogs, specifically our long-haired miniature wiener dog, Zoe.

If you have never attempted to use frozen yogurt to create a work of art that actually resembles something, it is like trying to nail jelly to a tree, assuming the jelly was ice cold.

In an effort to get a leg up on my competitors, I asked Tanja Nonkovic-Toljusic, co-owner of the new Tutti Frutti outlet, if she could give me a few tips on how to squirt frozen yogurt into a small cup and make it look like a puppy.

She boldly strode over to the yogurt nozzles and began randomly pumping various flavours into the container. "See, you can swirl it and do whatever," Tanja said, proudly. "You don't have to use just one flavour. Ewww, it doesn't really look like a dog. I'm sure you'll do better."

When the contest began, I covered the bottom of my cup with melon yogurt because it was light green and vaguely resembled grass. Then I layered on mounds of brownish cookies and cream yogurt into a large blob that was more lopsided than Lindsay Lohan at a college frat party.

To give my "dog" a lifelike fur coat, I coated it with graham-cracker crumbs and chocolate chips, then polished it off with eyes, ears, nose and tail made from various candy toppings. Sadly, the yogurt tail and paws quickly melted and slid onto the floor.

"It's great," PR spokeswoman Tamara Bodi cooed when she eyeballed the amorphous chocolate-y blob. "It looks kind of doggy-like. It's very organic, let's say."

In contrast, one of my rival artists, Rachel Lagacé from CTV Morning Live, aided by her two-year-old son, Maxim, created an inspiring foot-high tower of intricately decorated yogurt.

"It's Maxim's Mountain," Rachel declared as I looked on enviously. "Max has health issues, kidney and liver disease. He made a little trail of Skittles going to the top of the mountain. If we win, the money's going to the kidney foundation."

Speaking of winning, this is where you, the yogurt-eating, social-media-using readers come in. We all got $100 for our charities just for competing, but Tutti Frutti is going to post photos of our edible creations on its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TFFroyoWPG) and its Twitter account (@tffroyowpg), and whoever gets the most "likes" by noon Friday will earn another $400 for their charity. You can also vote in person at the store.

I am definitely going to need online support from all you social-media hipsters if I am going to capture the yogurt crown and score big bucks for the humane society.

I realize my lopsided yogurt wiener dog doesn't look like best in show, but it's got a huge heart -- which, incidentally, I made from red jelly beans. It's what Michelangelo would have done.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 A2

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