Friday, 27 July 2012

Hunter Valley Chocolate Festival 2012

July saw over 10,000 people attend the Hunter Valley Gardens Chocolate Festival in regional New South Wales with “Winter Wonderland” setting the theme for the highly anticipated Callebaut Showpiece Competition.

This year 22 entries were provided from around Australia with respected industry leaders Including TPA Members Jian Yao, Justin Yu and Dean Gibson on the judging panel.

Also during the weekend Team Pastry Australia worked for the first time with Team Bakery Australia in an open air live bakery which operated throughout the event.

Says Dean, “We used the event as a platform to do demonstrations with Adriano Zumbo (also a past TPA competitor), Drew Maddison a Corporate Pastry Chef from F Mayer, team members from Team Pastry Australia, Dean Tilden of Hunter TAFE and Brett Noy (TBA, Southern Cross baking Group) who rolled, proofed and baked 1200 chocolate croissants.”

Brett Noy added, “Using French flour, French butter, Belgian chocolate sticks and Aussie expertise we couldn’t go wrong. If you look around at the talent we had on stage and at the competition site it was probably the biggest gathering of professional pastry chefs and bakers in Australia.”

The Hunter Valley chocolate festival is now the main event for the Australian teams to work together in a fundraising weekend to help both teams compete against the world. Brett who is currently coaching the Australian baking team will compete in Munich August 2012 and Team Pastry Australia will compete in Lyon in January 2013.

Asian Pastry Cup 2012

And the Winner is…Australia!!!!

A new team has finally ended the reign of three time cup champions, Singapore. The Australian team was crowned the 2012 winner of the Asian Pastry Cup at the end of an exciting, tense and emotional two day competition. The teams from Malaysia and Singapore were awarded the second and third prizes respectively as hundreds of supporters cheered them on. New contender to the competition, New Zealand, rounded off the top four teams that will be heading to LyonFrance for the World Pastry Cup in 2013.

It has been a massive two years of planning with 100s of hours of training, but we have done it, with Team Pastry Australia (Jian Yao, Dean Gibson, Damikka Hatharasinghe, Justin Yu and Andre Sandison) placing first and also being given best sugar piece and the media award for best tasting at the 2012 Asian Pastry Cup.

It has been a huge logistical exercise including building a replica competition space, packing it up and freighting 360kgs of specialised and fabricated equipment to Singapore to take on the 11 Asian countries over two days of competition,

The word from the organisers prior to the Cup was that Australia seemed unorganised and were placed outside the top three. Singapore was again favourite to win as it had never been beaten since the competition’s inception in 2004.

As all Australians know however, you never underestimate the under dog. In just 1.5 hours we had unpacked our equipment and set up our comp kitchen – much to everyone’s surprise.

Certainly organization is such a big part of being a competitive team. Both Jian and myself used our 2010 effort and experience to emulate the efficiency of the Singapore team, we knew we would have to be more Singapore than Singapore to be Asian Champions.

And so it came to the competition, over the next eight hours we did encounter some problems such as with the blast freezer, but we had anticipated this and allowed for extra time in our program.

However the most stressful time of the eight hour competition was after seven hours and 35 minutes when the main chocolate explosion on Justin’s piece broke off and smashed on the floor. This was at a time that we had three MOF pastry chefs and most of the international jury watching us and I thought for sure we’d lost our chance to take gold.

True to the form though, both Justin and Andre were able to recover and Justin simply cleaned up the broken chocolate and started to build another, while Andre set up all the fish tanks for the presentation. I can tell you that those professionals were amazed at this recovery. Soon, even more cameras and pastry chefs came over to see Justin finish his piece with just 45 seconds left. After eight hours of competition it came down to under a minute – very cool.

As team coach I am so proud of Justin and Andre, it was amazing to see these boys test themselves at an international standard and even sweeter to hold up that gold on the podium and do what they said could not be done, beat Singapore in Singapore!

We never would have achieved this if it were not for our manager Jain Yao. He has been a mentor for me over the past two years and his drive, personality, integrity and commitment to this team is to be acknowledged. It is this same selfless attitude in Dammika and the rest of the team that has resulted in us becoming a champion team rather than a team of champions.

Team Pastry Australia would like to thank our sponsors for your commitment and support, it has been a great journey and even a better story, you are all part of this historical victory for Australia.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Masterchef Spectacular!

Last night proved pastry's turn to shine in the Masterchef kitchen with three team's battling it out to create a sweet showpiece inspired by Antoine Careme, a French master patissier who is often referred to as the godfather of pastry. Bejewelled with spun sugar, soft marshmallows and macarons aplenty, each team constructed whimsical works of art that tasted as good as they looked.

While past Team Pastry competitor Adriano Zumbo was on hand as mentor to guide the team through the process, it was current competitor Andre Sandison who offered knowledge, his skills and his kitchen at Le Cordon Bleu.

Finally, it was time to judge. Team Pastry's great friend Kirsten Tibballs (of the famed Savour School in Melbourne) and our very own Dean Gibson formed part of the elite, six-strong judging panel who tasted their way through all three creations.

Well done team!