The statement came at an event today held by Sirha, which was also attended by names such as Marie-Odile Fondeur, managing director of Sirha; Florent Suplisson, gastronomic events director; Martin Chiffers, president of the team; Brian Turner, UK judge and president for Bocuse d’Or; and Amandine Chaignot, executive chef at the Rosewood London hotel.
In 2015, the team came in sixth place out of 22 countries – its highest ever achievement – and is aiming to achieve at least third place at the international 2017 contest, which will welcome new countries Chile, India, and Indonesia.
The 2015 champions were Italy, followed by Japan in second place and the United States in third.
This year, Pastry Team UK is made up of Florian Poirot as sugar candidate, returning ice candidate Andrew Blas, and Chris Zammit as chocolate candidate.
The theme for the UK has yet to be decided but the team today revealed that it had recently changed from a ‘fairground’ theme to something else as-yet-unrevealed, with the design for the sugar sculpture having also been altered in the past few months.
As in previous years, the team will be asked to create a showpiece in each of the three media, as well as a chocolate dessert, plated desserts, and a frozen fruit dessert.
In a change to the rules for 2017, only the teams in the top five places will go through to the 2019 final automatically (previously it was the top seven, hence Team UK in sixth place skipping the European finals for 2017 and going straight to Lyon).
Founded by Gabriel Paillasson, the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie takes place every two years at Sirha Lyon, in the same culinary stadium – the 7,000 sq ft Espace des Chefs ‒ as the legendary international Bocuse d’Or contest, which follows two days later, and in 2017 will celebrate its 30th anniversary year.
Speaking of his inspiration for 2017, Poirot said: “Team UK did incredibly well last year and we are always looking for ways to achieve more. We are so inspired by the winners. Everyone did brilliantly last year but we are always looking at the winners [Italy] to see where we can improve.”
Chiffers, president of Pastry Team UK, said: “Our aim this year is to get on the podium. We have a great team and more funding than ever before.”
“No thrill better in pastry”
Blas, who is 2017 team captain and was also the ice candidate in 2015, said: “I keep telling the guys what to expect, but there’s no way they can really know until they’re in that [competition] box on the day. The support of Martin Chiffers is exceptional, and we really rely on our sponsors and support each other. We couldn’t do it if we didn’t rely on each other and push each other into new challenges. There is no thrill in pastry that I’ve experienced better than this.”
Benoit Blin, head pastry chef at Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, who was not able to attend, also continues to be involved, as chairman of the team, while previous team captain and chocolate candidate Barry Johnson also acts as a consultant.
The team this year also has three ‘back up’ support candidates, including Chris Seddon (Coutts), who was at the event, plus Joakim Prat (Maitre Choux) and Dale DeSimone (Grosvenor House Hotel).
Turner wished Pastry Team UK luck and said of the Coupe du Monde and Bocuse d’Or: “We wish you the best of luck. In my opinion this is still the best culinary competition in the world. It really showcases to Europe and the world what we can achieve.”
Suplisson, gastronomic events director, said: “Competitions are at the heart of Sirha [and] I am very impressed by the work that has been done by the Pastry Team UK in the Coupe du Monde. The organisation is very efficient, and I think we will see them on the podium very soon.”