"Our thank you’s are very sincere."
It took 14 months for Team U.S.A. to prepare and train for the 14th Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, but it paid off in the end. We are very proud to announce that this year John Kraus, Scott Green and Josh Johnson brought home the bronze. It had been 10 years since the U.S. was on the podium, and the feeling was just as sweet as it was 10 years ago.
Once again Club Coupe du Monde U.S.A. knocked at the door of the loyal friends who have selflessly assisted many previous teams with engineering, logistical support, design, ice carving training, sugar and chocolate techniques, mise en place and organization in the kitchen. So Charlie Gambino, Mike Faupel and Dan Dangremont from Alumilite in Kalamazoo, MI were back sharing their engineering and mold-making expertise. They were precious again as we faced new challenges in the form of the chocolate block which had to be molded, cooled and carved as a new element of the rules in Lyon.
Nick Antonakis and Robin Van Rooyen from the Art Department of Grand Rapids Community College visited the team a few times to add their fine touches of color and design to the centerpieces. Luba Petrash, Randy Finch and Dereck Maxfield introduced Josh Johnson to their field of expertise and, after a few trips to Grand Rapids, Josh was equipped with valuable ice carving skills, templates, and tools.
Ewald Notter, who has selflessly shared his passion for competition and the fine arts of chocolate and sugar work, was once again a key part of this organization. He made multiple trips from Orlando, or stopped on the way to teaching commitments across the world. Donald Wressell was back coaching after 10 years as a visitor to the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie. It was wonderful to see Donald Back. We were on the 1993 and 1995 teams together and have shared the ups and down of previous competitions. Both Ewald and Donald are veterans of many Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie events and have brought Gold, Silver and Bronze back to the U.S. over the years.
The team was assembled in early November 2013 in Chicago. For the team’s first brainstorming session, Derek Poirier, who participated in two previous Coupe du Monde events, guided us in our choice of the Valrhona chocolate we could use for the 2015 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie. We settled for the Manjari, Jivara 40%, Guanaja 80%, Caraibe 66% and Guanaja 70%. Thank you, Derek – this was a crash course on chocolate, just as the entire project was an enormous classroom that no college could duplicate.
During the first four months, the team was planning, designing the centerpieces and building models. In May we had finally identified where the team would train. Todd Ostrowski of Midwest Imports offered to welcome us in his test kitchen in Hillside in the Western suburb of Chicago. This was the perfect location, just 20 minutes away from O’Hare Airport and few minutes from the highway. It was perfectly placed and very welcoming.
We timed our first practice session to coincide with the National Restaurant Association’s yearly trade show in Chicago in May. The entire team was able to visit the show and thank our sponsors for their loyal support.
A few people have been very selfless in this project. Gary Guittard from Guittard Chocolate endorsed many of Donald’s absences and thus demonstrated his unconditional support for our profession. He, just like Tim Koerner, Philipp Braun and Andreas Galliker from AUI FINE FOODS, and Xavier and Dominique Noel from PARIS GOURMET understood that young pastry chefs need to be given the resources to be able to compete in the most prestigious pastry competition.
The team felt the support of these pillars of our industry during their entire preparation, in the U.S. and in Lyon.
On the Friday before the competition, Donald frantically called to inquire about the status of the microgreen we had ordered from Koppert Cress, and it took only a few minute to get the answer. I had just landed in France at 11:30 a.m. and immediately texted Nicolas Mazard in New York to get an update on the precious shipment which had been so difficult to secure. Plan A had not worked as well as we would have liked, but plans B and C were already in motion. On Monday afternoon, when Team US.A. presented the plated desserts, the essential tiny touch of freshness of the coriander blossom was there for the world to see and appreciate.
In Lyon, Sylvain Leroy welcomed the team and insured good logistic and perfect communication for our non-French-speaking group. Later, Keeghan Gerhard expertly navigated the streets of Lyon while once again driving the equipment truck to the competition.
Yes, many people were instrumental in bringing this team to the podium. From Kevin Northington at AUI and Angelo Falco of Midwest Imports, who both meticulously documented and synchronized the shipping of our material, to Lauren, Rachel, and Josh, our lucky apprentices who toiled to assist each team member and keep the kitchen clean and organized during the practices and preparation in Lyon, to Yvonne Gibault from Elle & Vire, who made sure the team could train with French cream and butter, to Isabelle Trevier from Sevarome who provided us with the finest food colors, to Paul Edward from Chef Rubber who provided the vinyl and other essential decorating material. To Bob Bruno who was one of the original sponsors of the U.S. Pastry Alliance which I had started in 1994, thank you for believing in our effort and for bringing Fabbri USA on board.
Thank you Valrhona and Anthony Valla for your unconditional support. Thank you you Ravifruit for the wonderful fruit purees which allowed us to create such delicious ice creams and desserts. Thank you American Pistachios for providing us with your excellent pistachios during our training. Thank you to King Arthur Flour and Nielsen Massey Vanilla for guiding us in our choices of products and providing us with so much technical assistance.
Thank you friends and supporters of Club Coupe du Monde U.S.A. and Team U.S.A. 2015 for having left your competitive strategies aside, and for having allowed us to celebrate all together the strength of the U.S. pastry professionals to entire world. Thank you for bringing us the ingredients and the tools to be successful in our workplace and in the competition kitchen. We wish you success and good fortune so you may support team U.S.A. as we prepare for January 2017 and the 15th Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie.
The list is very long and I am very sorry I am not able to thank everyone by name for the help they gave us during these intense 14 months. To all of you, please know that our thank you’s are very sincere.