The main team trio comprises Andrew Blas (former executive pastry chef at the Hotel Café Royal) as the Ice Candidate and captain; Florian Poirot (founder of York-based macaroon business FP Macaroons) on Sugar; and Chris Zammit (pastry chef at Eastbourne's Camilleri Kitchen) on Chocolate.
The team also includes chocolatier Martin Chiffers as president and coach, and Anne-Sophie Labruyere as promotion manager. It is supported by Benoit Blin, chairman of the UK Pastry Club Coupe du Monde, executive pastry chef at Belmond Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons and Bake Off: Crème de la Crème judge.
The UK theme this year was Marvel London (as shown in the Team poster, pictured), with the team hoping to reach the podium in tonight’s results announcement, after coming an unprecedented sixth place in 2015.
With each year under pressure to be bigger, better, and more inventive than before, this year’s theme saw Team UK create intricate superhero/London-themed statues and cakes.
This included the top of Big Ben upside down surrounded by sugar Fantastic Four figures; a traditional Post Office pillar box topped with Spiderman and threatened by other attackers; and an ice sculpture of Thor, compete with light-up ‘hammer’.
The ‘presentation’ buffet stand also forms part of the entry, with the sculptures arranged artistically on a specially-designed light-up stand influenced by the London Underground logo design, which also played theme music as part of the display.
Once completed, each of the ice sculptures is moved to individual freezers outside the main events space, to be displayed throughout the competition.
[Close-ups: L: Part of the Post Office pillar box sugar sculpture / L: A practice run of the ice sculpture Thor, waiting for his trademark hammer]
The team competed on Sunday (22 January) alongside half of the 22 international teams, with the second half of the teams set to compete today (Monday 23 January).
Overall results are to be announced at 5pm this evening.
The contest, which was launched by French chef Gabriel Paillasson in 1989, asks the teams to create three sculptures – one in ice, one in chocolate, and one in sugar – alongside a frozen fruit dessert (using Ravifruit products), a chocolate dessert (using Valrhona chocolate), and 15 plated desserts.
Each part is presented to a wide selection of international judges, comprising some of the most well-known and respected pastry chefs and chefs in the world, including UK judge Martin Chiffers.
The team was also supported by deputies in Ice, Chocolate, and Sugar, including Chris Seddon on ice; patissier and chef at London's Maitre Choux, Joakim Prat; and Dale DeSimone, executive pastry chef at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott hotel on chocolate.
Blas and Chiffers are the only returning members of the team after the 2015 contest, with Blas having taken up the Ice role then, alongside chocolatier Barry Johnson on Chocolate, and Javier Mercado on Sugar.
[Pastry Team UK - L-R: Florian Poirot; Martin Chiffers; Andy Blas; Chris Zammit]
The last competition saw Italy crowned victorious, with Japan and the United States as runners up.
Of the 22 teams, there were three new nationalities in the final this year: Indonesia, India, and Chile.
The Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie takes place in the same hall as the celebrated Bocuse d’Or cookery contest, the latter of which is held immediately afterwards. The UK will not be represented this year, although previous competitor Adam Bennett is at Lyon cooking at the VIP CHEF restaurant – with three-Michelin-starred chefs Régis and Jacques Marcon – throughout.