Tuesday, March 16, 2010

tough startin' with frozen dough

Sunday morning I got on the 8:15am bus, got me to the convention centre around 9am. Peter was well on his way. He started his bake at 6:20am. Roger immediately told me that he forgot his brioche in the blast freezer overnight. He arrived in the morning, dough frozen like a stone. Roger and I walked back and forth in front of the six bakeshops, two for each category. France and Sweden baking bread, Hungary and U.S. doing pastry, and Netherlands and France doing showpieces. Day went well, for the most part. When the bell rang, Frances’ bread was beautiful, Sweden’s’, not so much. Both showpieces were spectacular. France did a music theme, and the Netherlands chose Valentine’s Day. The assignment was to use an event or religious holiday that depicts your country. Evidently, there is a day in France, nationwide, that celebrates music, national holiday type thing. Never did get a reason Pay-Bas chose Valentine’s Day. The Hungarian pastry was what one might expect. Rather well done, but a couple pieces were very plain. His name was Robert, and at the end of your bake, you get asked a few questions by the jury. He openly admitted that the croissants they make back home in Hungary, are made with margarine. Admitted he struggled with using butter. Not sure if I mentioned it, but it was mandated that each pastry candidate produce a plain croissant, a pain aux chocolate, chocolate croissant and a brioche aux tete, brioche with a head. Peter’s laminated products were beautiful, as expected. He does a terrific job on laminated dough. Peter finished about twenty minutes late and his brioche was unacceptable. They judged it none the less. The penalty for not having one of the products is far more severe than having a poorly done item. The penalty for being late is very difficult to overcome. At this point, we can only hope that the Monday baking, French pastry baker stumbles as well.

Sunday night it was off to dinner at a place called Astier. Very old classic French place in the tenth, at Place de Republic. We had an upstairs room. Dinner was hosted by the BBGA. We had about twenty five folks there. Craig, guild chair, Dara and Peter, and an assortment of other guild members. One person in attendance was James Maguire. Another baking legend. He had a restaurant/bakery in Montreal. Fluent in French, knew Julia Child, who knew Raymond Calvel. When it came time to translate one of Calvel’s books into English, Calvel found Child, and child found James. He knew the lady, who knew the man. Dinner was very good, cheese course was better. Dessert was bad. Peter was gassed. Gassed to the point of delirious. I understand, been there. Not only is it exhausting, the mental strain, but part of the whole experience is dining and drinking with the entire competition body, until 1am, nightly. And I’m sure it is not a good showing if you don’t take part. We did it, out late, and on the early bus, “To support all the competitors”. It’s tough, really tough.

During the day Sunday, I got to see, what the late finishing bakers did on Saturday. The North Korean bread looked very “Clumsy”. Again, due to the rice culture. The Spanish pastry looked very “Spanish”. Kinda plain, very typical. I think places like Spain and Portugal, do better with plated desserts. The Polish artistic piece was pretty much the same one he did for the last Coupe. It was clearly short of the “1.8 meter, height minimum”. Not sure what he was thinking.

I guess we’ll see what “Frenchy” does tomorrow.


Blogger Laminatrix said...

What this kind of brings home to me is the importance of teammates--and of actually acting like a team. Teammates remind each of other of stuff--the stuff that doesn't make it onto the checklist--like dough in the blast freezer (or, in your case, a sugar/salt mixup?). That was one of the things that stood out at the bakery for me, too: everyone has their own tasks, but so much more gets done when people lend a hand here and there. (The example I always use for people who aren't familiar with the bakery world is someone helping Filamon put the baguettes through the one-way sheeter--with two people, that job takes five minutes, but with one person, it takes 20 minutes, which is why I always tried to find the five minutes for him.)

Too bad for Peter though; he must have been bummed.

March 16, 2010 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

To go thru that competition experience alone would be dreadful. I could tell it was hard for them to have an "Edge". To come back twenty three months after the coupe and have that competitive spirit, it just wasn't there. No way it could be. Gettin' ready for the coupe, there is of course a lot of hype, camaraderie. More mojo to keep ya pushin' on. the whole while you keep thinkin' "After the coupe, after the coupe". Your life changes. Dara opened a bakery. Peter started consulting. After such a different change of direction, it was difficult for both of them to get prepared mentally. Their newborn life had to be put on hold in it's infancy. Could never be the same.

The salt/sugar incident, was someone sittin' on my shoulder. Dumb luck maybe?

March 17, 2010 at 5:31 AM  

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