I don’t know if a lot of you watched the documentary “The Kings of Pastry” on SBS a few months ago. It follows Pastry Chefs in their journey to obtain the sought-after M.O.F. title (“Meilleur Ouvrier de France” = Best Craftsmen in France) during a gruelling 3-day competition held in France every 4 years.
As I watched it I really felt for those poor Pastry Chefs shedding blood, sweat and tears, training like mad men for years in order to obtain the prestigious distinction. At some stage during the final moments of the competition, one of the contestants saw his masterpiece shattering before his very eyes in hundreds of pieces as he was carrying it to the judges table… that was really intense and emotional!
Therefore, a few weeks ago, when my company director, a sponsor of the Asian Pastry Cup Australian team, was invited to attend their presentation at Continental Patisserie in Strathfield, I jumped at the opportunity!
The team is composed of:
– Jian Yao (Team Manager and Pastry Chef at Continental Patisserie)
– Adriano Zumbo (don’t think any introduction is needed here, thanks to his televised appearances last year on Masterchef!)
– Dean Gibson (Teacher at TAFE Hunter and Adriano’s old boss at the late Wokpool).
They are participating at this moment in the 2010 Asian Pastry Cup in Singapore, competing against 12 other teams from all over Asia. This is also the preliminary competition for entry into the World Pastry Cup held in Lyon, France in 2011… Needless to say, a lot of pressure on our team’s shoulders!
They each have to present the judges:
– 2 x Chocolate cakes
– 18 x Plated dessert
– 1 x Sugar showpiece
– 1 x Chocolate showpiece
We arrived there around 4pm, but the team had been working on their pieces since 8:30am.
It was very interesting to see how the chefs work. They were using a few pieces of equipment I wouldn’t have expected, like hair dryers, radiators to keep the sugars malleable, spray painters… I guess there is a reason why the pastry section in a kitchen is called a laboratory!
The first dessert to come out was the plated dessert, composed of a coconut marshmallow, ice-cream, fresh strawberries, a wafer and what I think is a red berries reduction, which was really lovely!
This was followed by the Two Chocolate Cakes. The different layers and textures were delicious, including a biscuit that was fizzing and popping in your mouth. It reminded me of a lolly I used to buy as a kid called Frizzi Pazzi! Aaah, nostalgia…
Dean Gibson was in charge of the chocolate showpiece and Adriano Zumbo was making the sugar piece.
The time, minutiae and precision required by the sculptures are unimaginable. The least false move can have disastrous consequences and the whole sugar or chocolate sculpture can just collapse in a flash instant… which actually happened just seconds after I took the picture below. It was a bit of a dramatic moment and the audience stopped breathing for a second! Fortunately only the yellow flower piece broke, not the entire sculpture.
The team finished their pieces just around 5pm, but as they had started a bit later than planned, they were still in the allocated time frame.
Just had time to quickly wish Good luck to the team and had to go unfortunately.
The competition finished Thursday 22nd April at 4:30pm local time, but I can’t get my hands on the results yet, so… fingers crossed for the Aussie team!
PS: Just got the results now: the Singapore team won the Cup. Sad for the Aussie team (they arrived 5th), but hopefully they had a great experience over there and will come back with a lot of new skills!