The Australian Pastry Team has placed seventh out of 22 countries in the world’s most prestigious pastry competition, ahead of pastry heavyweights Belgium and Taiwan.
The result at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie – The Pastry World Cup – automatically qualifies the Australian team for the 2015 competition.
Team coach Dean Gibson said the group is thrilled with the result, particularly considering this was the first time in six years Australia has sent a team to compete at an international level.
“It was always the goal for the team to make the top seven and we are treating this as a win. It’s a real achievement to beat some of the serious pastry countries including Belgium, UK and Taiwan,” Dean said.
After a spectacular effort, Le Cordon Bleu chef Andre Sandison placed second in the sugar section – a stellar result considering the stiff competition.
“We wanted to showcase what Australian chefs are capable of. And of course, what better way than to model our desserts on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge?” Andre said.
“It took many hours and months of work to perfect each piece and I was so proud to show an international audience our best work. The fact we were awarded seventh place is so gratifying, it really makes all that hard work worthwhile.”
The youngest member of the team, Justin Yu, competed in the chocolate section; something he has specialised in throughout his studies.
Justin’s 18kg entry, which took just more than six hours to build from liquid, depicted the iconic Sydney Tower set against the Opera House, complete with red and yellow fireworks.
For Justin, the international stage was intimidating, nonetheless he was thankful for the experience of the other chefs on the team.
“When there is so much pressure to perform at this level, it can be scary, but having these experienced chefs by my side, training me and giving me confidence in my skills and technique made all the difference,” Justin said.
And technique is imperative. Not only are the pieces not allowed to be marked with scratches or fingerprints, they must also impress judges in just one or two bites.
“You must remember these judges are tasting a lot of desserts on the one day, so it’s important not to fatigue their taste buds or stomachs with a lot of fat and sugar,” Dean said.
Throughout the competition, which was held from January 27-28, teams from 22 countries had 10 hours to produce a range of desserts including fruit-based frozen desserts, chocolate desserts and identical plated desserts representative of their country. Three showpiece artistic creations were also required; one made of sugar, one made of chocolate and one sculpted of ice. To ensure these pieces incorporated a distinctly Australian flavour, the team even shipped over home-grown mangoes, kiwi fruit and passion fruit for the event.
The Australian contingent prepared for the Coupe du Monde for more than two years, sometimes training up to 14 hours a day.
“There is an exhausting amount of preparation involved in this competition, including a lot of after-hours work while juggling paid work and families,” Dean said.
“But it paid off. These guys are at the absolute top of their game and Australia should take notice of their exceptional skill-level and recognise this outstanding achievement.”
The Pastry World Cup was hosted in conjunction with SIRHA – France’s largest hospitality industry fair.
Imports of France managing director Philippe Vauzelle attended SIRHA and said the trade show housed almost 186,000 visitors and 3000 exhibitors over five days.
“It’s an amazing event that is gaining momentum every year. It’s a destination now,” Philippe said.
“It’s a great way to see what’s new in the world of food. The standout products had to be tiny dissolvable saffron capsules that look like a Panadol tablet, and frozen snail flesh.
“There are lots of artisan exhibitors that only produce small quantities of product that are unique to various French regions. They might only make one or two cheeses, or 250L of walnut oil a year; but these boutique producers are very popular with chefs.”
Congratulations to the world top seven countries: France, Japan, Italy, US, Korea, Singapore and Australia.