Seeing the remains of your showpiece scattered in hundreds of pieces across the floor is a humbling experience. To see two showpieces collapse within a minute makes you question whether you should really be doing this at all. You clean several hours of work off the floor and take a break. Dust pan and brush, the new tools of the trade. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, competing for profession and country.
The biannual Asian Pastry Cup in Singapore and the Coupe de Monde (CdM) de la Patisserie in Lyon are some of the biggest patisserie competitions globally. The pressure that comes with these competitions can break the strongest teams. With only several more months to go, Team Pastry Australia (TPA) shares an insight to their preparation for Lyon.
Coach, Dean Gibson sums up the teams preparation as, “train hard, win easy”. Although a win is never guaranteed, and a bit of luck is always welcome, Dean’s short motto encompasses the array of challenges to compete and reflects the teams focus.
Training hard means squeezing the most out of already busy days- balancing family, work, friends and training. The Team Manager, Jian Yao, of Continental Patissière, having sorted his Sydney business, occasionally naps in his office chair, before focusing on his Shanghai business shift. Jian and Dean lead by example. This stretching of effort is what makes the team effective. Jian describes the Singapore success as result of, “everyone playing their role to the fullest. This has what has made the team successful. We do everything to together, eat, travel, etc. It is what makes us work so well.”
However, success in a competition with a creative outcome means the only goal is to be your best. TPA’s preparation can’t be compared to others, because the team prepares against the creative parameters they try to achieve. Practise and preparation play a big part in this and everybody on the team manages this in different ways. However, the team agrees, the best is as only good as the preparation.
Preparation means coming up with a crazy idea and pursuing it, practising things over and over again, pushing the boundaries of what you know, or what anybody knows for that matter, as well as observing what appears to be a major breakthrough, develop in agonisingly slow and incremental stages. Spending time in the kitchen testing flavour combinations, breaking showpieces deliberately and by accident, as well as accumulating a culinary ‘museum’ of assorted chocolate and sugar showpieces foretells this preparation.
The teams’ professional development is also supported by many industry specialists. John Crowl from Cow and the Moon Gelato has brought technical expertise and passion to the formulations for the teams’ entremet glace. This collaboration enables the team to exploit ideas quickly and standardise formulations. It is the dedication and passion of people like John who bring both the team and the whole industry forward.
This capacity to share and collaborate is what brings such a selfish pursuit to the wider professional community and customers. As culinary teachers and industry mentors in daily life, this knowledge and expertise does filter into curriculum and industry. It fuels passion. It encourages healthy competition. It is the ‘why’ when you see so much effort scattered across the floor. With dust pan at hand, the team continues its journey to “train hard”.
The team would like to thank all of our amazing sponsors!
Did you know?
- In Lyon, teams of three will have 8 hours to produce a showpiece from ice, sugar and chocolate, as well as entremet glace, chocolate entremets and plated desserts for tasting.
- There are 24 judges in the Coupe de Monde de la Patisserie.
- Flavour is the most important criteria in the judging process, despite the showpieces taking so much time.
- Justin, the chocolate showpiece specialist, is referred as the ‘choc star’.
- The recommended serving temperature for a chocolate entremet is 8 to 10˚C.
- The team’s favourite meal during training in the lead up to Singapore was pizza!