Culinary Institute Hosts Tryouts for International Pastry Competition

La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie 2013. Held at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.
La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie 2013. Held at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. Photo courtesy of Andrew J. Schmidt.

An international pastry competition has its qualifying battle in Grand Rapids this week.

A group of six pastry chefs from across the country vying to represent the United States at the 2019 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France, will compete in the kitchens of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College. The competing chefs are experts in sugar and chocolate.

Gilles Renusson, president of Club Coupe du Monde U.S.A. and professor at Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, said competing chefs have successfully participated in national or international level competitions and displayed “sophisticated skills” in cake making, plated dessert and ice cream compositions.

The chefs will be evaluated by a panel of judges on multiple criteria but Renusson said the most important are the tasting of the chocolate cake, the presentation of a chocolate or sugar centerpiece, and the organization and cleanliness of their work.

“All will have to interpret the theme of time and integrate it as much as possible with grace and harmony in the chocolate cake and the centerpiece,” Renusson said.

The chefs are given four hours on Monday and eight hours on Tuesday to create and present two identical chocolate cakes. “Each cake must be precisely identical and weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 grams,” Renusson said.

Two competitors will be selected to join the U.S. team. They will join Victor Dagatan, who earned the best ice carving award this past January at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie. The winning chefs will be identified Tuesday evening during the award ceremony, being held in the Imperial Ballroom of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Students from the culinary program will assist the chefs during the competition.

Renusson said it is a unique and inspiring opportunity for the college’s culinary students. “They have a unique chance to see the best our profession has to offer, and we hope it will motivate them to reach for the stars. The volunteer students who will assist the competitors and the judges will add a few more names to their professional network and some may even find employment with some of these leading professionals.”

The competition takes place on Aug. 14 and 15 at the Secchia Institute. The competition is open to the public on Aug. 15. The competition will stream live on Pastry Team USA from 2-6 p.m. on Aug. 14 and 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Aug. 15.

Competing pastry chefs:

Thierry Aujard
Executive pastry chef/owner, Sweet Prosperity Bakery, Pennsylvania

Francois Behuet 
Executive pastry chef, Petrossian, New York

Nicolas Chevrieux 
Executive pastry chef, Jean-Philippe Patisserie, ARIA Las Vegas, Nevada

Robert Nieto
Executive pastry chef, Jackson Family Wines, California

Olivier Saintemarie
Executive pastry chef, J.B.I. Inc., Les Chefs de France, Florida

Jordan Snider
Executive pastry chef, Fairmont Grand Del Mar, California

Tuesday’s schedule of events:

  • 10 a.m.-3 p.m.- watch the participants at work.
  • 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. watch U.S. team member and ice carving artist Victor Dagatan create an ice sculpture.
  • 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.- check out the sugar and chocolate centerpiece displays.

The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education is located in the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE, on GRCC’s Main Campus.

*Photo by Andrew J. Schmidt

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