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Sweet outcome for pastry coach

Sweet outcome for pastry coach

Hundreds of voluntary hours spent preparing for events like the World Junior Pastry Championship are gaining international recognition for New Zealand’s pastry industry.

They look far too good to eat – if you knew where to start. Judges in Rimini, Italy, however, found a way to nibble on the New Zealand Pastry Team’s 1.6-plus-metre sweet sculptures and other delectable creations, awarding them fourth in the world at the World Junior Pastry Competitions on 20 – 21 January.

Coach Marcus Braun, who teaches patisserie and baking at CPIT, said the team prepared for a year for the event, but the recognition received was worth the hard work.

“We surprised a lot of people. We were an unknown factor coming from New Zealand, but we got great feedback from the international judges. Italian guest pastry chef Emmanuele Forcone, one of the best in the world, wants to come to New Zealand to train us purely because he loved our work and thought we had good potential to grow. You just don’t get people of that standard visiting New Zealand, so that was a coup in itself.”

Desserts of the future

The team impressed with their variations on the competition theme - Circus of the Future - across a range of strictly defined categories, presenting such mouth-watering creations as Dolche Latte Gelato with Salted Walnut Nougatine and Pear & Ginger Gel. Other creations showcased New Zealand flavours such as feijoa, which some judges had never tasted before, and Central Otago pinot noir. Manuka honey also featured of course, although the supplies only just made it through Australian customs enroute.

Visually, the highlights were undoubtedly the Showpiece–Chocolate and Showpiece–Sugar, two artistic sculptures that towered over the team’s two young pastry chefs Vivian Clarke and Sarah Harrap. The detail was extraordinary. Moulds for components of the sculptures were made in Belgium and by the Auckland-based silicon company that supplies Weta Workshop and the different elements were then painstakingly put together.

Hours of dedication rewarded

The team – the fourth member is Manager Arno Sturny and Auckland University of Technology patisserie lecturer - practised in Auckland every third weekend over a year. Braun said the whole team had to be deeply committed to the competition. “My role was to develop recipes, develop the dishes, work out training schedules, assign tasks and give critiques. It was a lot of work and all voluntary, but we want to see our industry grow.”

Even in Italy the hardworking team had to forego any ideas about sightseeing in favour of sourcing local ingredients, unpacking 400kg worth of gear and preparing their imported NZ produce for the two day competition.

Patisserie takes its rightful place

Braun has picked up new trends and ideas to bring back to his students at CPIT and plans to continue with his mission to bring patisserie in New Zealand to the fore.

“Pastry used to be the poor cousin of cooking in New Zealand but pastry chefs are highly skilled with a very artistic flair. You have to take simple ingredients like sugar and chocolate and create something different. A pastry chef not only makes desserts look great - but this needs to be backed up with great flavour too. Patisserie is a challenging and rewarding profession and we’d like to see it come to the fore in New Zealand.”

ENDS

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