tweet

September 13, 2008

World Pastry Championships



First, scusami for the long break-- I am in Italy!

No, I didn’t run away with one of the Italian pastry chefs. What I am up to back in Italy so soon after my whirlwind tour in July will reveal itself soon enough. Suffice it to say it involves wood-fired ovens in Tuscany and getting paid to cook with people who share a love of fire. But before I get to that, I must finish reporting on the World Pastry Championships at Opryland Hotel.

I think I worked more in those 4 days then I have on anything since completing my dissertation in graduate school. The crucial difference here being that this was actually a lot of fun! I did not get paid and I won’t be on the Food Network anytime soon. But I did get to parade in front of a lot of people and cameras, holding all manner of exquisite confections on outlandish plates before the world -famous and discerning panel of judges and pastry enthusiasts. And I had a ball.

I now understand why legions of volunteers –some of them culinary school students, some food writers, others professional chefs and middle-aged women undergoing a career change—took time off and paid their own way to Nashville plus their hotel for a week, and basically worked their butts off for nothing… just to get to be servers at the World Pastry Championships for a couple of days. (Don’t ask how I walked in off the street and got the job. I’m still trying to figure that one out).



I, too, did all manner of things during that week, from helping to set up the convention stalls for the trade show of industry vendors, to cleaning the boards for the top-secret all-day pastillage making before the competition, to cleaning up the forum kitchens after the week-long classes taught by master pastry chefs were over. I even drove a couple of the Italian team members to get massages and went all over town to find the best lemons and oranges for their practice –all in the name of participating in the “greatest pastry competition the world has ever seen,” (according to Ewald Notter, seen in my previous post).

But the best part was when I got to be a server for the two days of the actual competition—an event more exciting, suspenseful, emotional and melodramatic than I’d ever imagined.



The theme of this year’s competition was Imagination. The teams had their best chefs representing them: Belgium, Switzerland, U.S.A., Italy, Japan, China, South Korea, Mexico and Russia. The Belgians and the Swiss obviously knew their chocolate; the Japanese were the most brilliant in their showpieces (and had the biggest contingent of fans who traveled to see them shine); the Russians were inexperienced but flashy and boasted the only two women in the competition; the Mexicans were the underdogs without sponsors but a lot of heart to make up for it; and the U.S. team, the favorites, were all cocky Frenchmen and the clear favorites to win the competition.



The Italians were clearly the crowd favorite, showing all kinds of passion and artistry, youth and optimism and even making a remarkable comeback after a heart-rending breakage of their pastillage (the hardened sugar that forms 1/3 of the final showpieces) midway through the second day. Despite some difficulties though, theirs were the best tasting of all the desserts, taste closely matching appearance in all of their entries. I know this because as servers, we got to hang out in the backstage area between events, grabbing forkfuls of dessert creations as they were brought back from the judges or the photographer’s tables. Yet another reason for spending 13 hours two days straight as a volunteer grunt.

It was a very close match, and all the teams worked their hearts out for two grueling days of mixing, piping, sculpting and decorating. The winsome Italians made some costly mistakes in the area of hygiene, as well as the use of dry ice in their plated dessert box creation (a non food-safe substance). And it pains me still to say that they came away 8-tenths of a point from third place. Team U.S. A. (a.k.a. Vive la France) won the gold, Japan deservedly won silver and the Swiss team took the bronze medal.

But the Italians will always be the winners to me. Getting to know them, helping them and cheering them on was an experience I will never forget and it inspired me to work harder and continue on the passionate path, wherever that may lead. Exactly that kind of passion is what brought all those people unexpectedly together for one purpose over two days in a convention center in Nashville, Tennessee. And I am so glad I was a part of it.

7 comments:

  1. That sounds great!
    Now I want to hear about you in Italy AGAIN! I can't believe it!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi !.
    You may , probably curious to know how one can manage to receive high yields .
    There is no initial capital needed You may begin to receive yields with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

    AimTrust is what you haven`t ever dreamt of such a chance to become rich
    The company incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

    Its head office is in Panama with offices around the world.
    Do you want to become a happy investor?
    That`s your choice That`s what you desire!

    I`m happy and lucky, I started to get real money with the help of this company,
    and I invite you to do the same. It`s all about how to choose a proper companion utilizes your savings in a right way - that`s the AimTrust!.
    I take now up to 2G every day, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
    It`s easy to start , just click this link http://oraceleja.kogaryu.com/inytaqys.html
    and go! Let`s take this option together to get rid of nastiness of the life

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello everyone!
    I would like to burn a theme at here. There is such a thing, called HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. It reminds of financial piramyde, but in rare cases one may happen to meet a company that really pays up to 2% daily not on invested money, but from real profits.

    For quite a long time, I make money with the help of these programs.
    I'm with no money problems now, but there are heights that must be conquered . I get now up to 2G a day , and I started with funny 500 bucks.
    Right now, I'm very close at catching at last a guaranteed variant to make a sharp rise . Turn to my web site to get additional info.

    [url=http://theblogmoney.com] Online investment blog[/url]

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good day, sun shines!
    There have were times of troubles when I felt unhappy missing knowledge about opportunities of getting high yields on investments. I was a dump and downright pessimistic person.
    I have never imagined that there weren't any need in big initial investment.
    Now, I'm happy and lucky , I begin to get real money.
    It's all about how to choose a correct companion who utilizes your money in a right way - that is incorporate it in real business, and shares the profit with me.

    You may get interested, if there are such firms? I'm obliged to answer the truth, YES, there are. Please get to know about one of them:
    [url=http://theblogmoney.com] Online investment blog[/url]

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello!
    You may probably be very curious to know how one can make real money on investments.
    There is no need to invest much at first.
    You may begin earning with a money that usually goes
    for daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
    I have been participating in one company's work for several years,
    and I'll be glad to let you know my secrets at my blog.

    Please visit blog and send me private message to get the info.

    P.S. I earn 1000-2000 per daily now.

    http://theinvestblog.com [url=http://theinvestblog.com]Online Investment Blog[/url]

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glad to materialize here. Good day or night everybody!

    Let me introduce myself,
    my name is James F. Collins.
    Generally I’m a venturesome analyst. all my life I’m carried away by online-casino and poker.
    Not long time ago I started my own blog, where I describe my virtual adventures.
    Probably, it will be interesting for you to find out my particular opinion on famous gambling projects.
    Please visit my diary. http://allbestcasino.com I’ll be glad would you find time to leave your comments.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very good work.Good ideas for students who want to excel in professiona; Pastry.

    Raghu
    Post Graduate Diploma In Culinary Arts student
    CULINARY ACADEMY OF INDIA

    ReplyDelete

Share/Save/Bookmark