Nicolas Bouhelier, one of the team of pastry chefs representing the UK in the prestigious Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, has said the competition can help pastry chefs in the UK become as respected as their European counterparts.
The World Pastry Cup is held every two years at the same time as the Bocuse d'Or contest but, despite the UK team coming in ninth place in 2011, is not as well-known in this country as it is elsewhere.
"Lots of countries around the world know it but the UK is not there yet; no one has wanted to be involved," Bouhelier, pastry sous chef at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, told BigHospitality. The team's aim is to make the contest as recognised as the Bocuse d'Or.
As one third of the UK contingent preparing for the final in Lyon next year, the chef believes the lack of recognition is due to the different way pastry chefs are viewed in kitchens here.
"In the UK there is not as many pastry chefs as there are in France and lots of European countries. There are not many here and they are mainly in restaurants."
"Pastry teams are not seen as separate departments so the head pastry chef is not as respected as the head chef who everyone knows. Head pastry chefs are not as well-known here while around the world leading pastry chefs become famous," he said.
After winning the European semi-final in March and collecting the prize for best sugar and best chocolate piece, Bouhelier believes the UK team can help change that perception and encourage chefs to consider the creativity specialising in pastry can bring.
"We are trying to move UK pastry chefs forward, get a good basis with more chefs involved who can enter competitions and show everybody that we are doing something so we don't get forgotten."
Joining chocolate candidate Bouhelier in Lyon will be Javier Mercado, pastry lecturer at Westminster Kingsway College, as the sugar candidate and team captain. Mercado was part of the winning UK team in the European competition and was responsible for leading the country to ninth place in the last World Cup - the first time the UK had entered since 2003.
Video of the UK entries to the European round of the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie:
The World Cup team line-up is completed by Nicolas Belorgey, pastry sous chef at Yauatcha, who will be the ice cream candidate.
Leading pastry chef Martin Chiffers succeeds Benoit Blin, executive pastry chef at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, as team president after a rule change stipulating the person in this post must to be born in the UK.
The UK team will compete in a 10-hour competition with the top seven countries from the last three World Cups and the winners of a number of regional rounds plus wild cards. Together the team will have to prepare three fruit-based ice cream desserts, three chocolate desserts, 12 plate desserts from their home country and three artistic creations made of sugar, chocolate and sculpted ice respectively.
Bouhelier, who is practising for the competition on his days off and in breaks from work, said last year's winners Spain and strong competitors France were the favourites.
"The pressure and the ambience and the fact you are working in the most prestigious pastry competition in the world is a trophy enough. France don't come for the fourth space, they come for top three minimum. They will be very difficult to beat."