Toronto is wrapped up in the frenzy of the Fifa World Cup.
As I write this, Toronto is wrapped up in the frenzy of the Fifa World Cup. A drive down almost any street in the city is sure to offer up at least one car (if not a dozen of them) with flags streaming from the windows and horn honking. The closest thing I’ve experienced to this was when Canada won the World Cup of Hockey a few years ago, just after I moved to Toronto. My husband and I hop on the hockey bandwagon only towards the end of any championship round (I can’t handle the stress otherwise), and we watched the winning game, got in the car, parked close to Yonge Street, and walked all the way downtown, cheering, giving high fives and revelling with the other people out celebrating. Most of these people are folks I would probably never have the chance to exchange a word with on a regular day, but a win like this, especially one on behalf of the country, has a way of unifying people, bringing us together, connecting us.
And so we come to the Bakery World Cup, the team competition held every three years in Paris at Europain to crown the best bakers in the world. Now the hype surrounding this competition and the Fifa World Cup aren’t quite on the same level, to say the least. But the hype should be bigger than it currently is in the Canadian baking industry. Right now, the drive to make sure Canada is represented at the Bakery World Cup is mostly a one-man band, led by Mario Fortin (see the story on page 20).
Just like a World Cup of Hockey win connected me with people I’d never have otherwise met, so the Bakery World Cup connects people. “The organizers created this to bring people together, to share ideas, to build up the international brotherhood of bakers,” U.S. team coach (and baking guru) Didier Rosada told me last year after the competition at Europain in April (and after the U.S. won the cup for the second time in less than 10 years). The first U.S. win back in 1999 was an upset in the international baking industry and the 2002 competition (in which the U.S. placed second) marked the first time in the history of the competition that the French team did not place in the top three. The Bread Bakers Guild of America is the major sponsor for the U.S. team, and later publishes the award-winning formulas for all Guild members.
“Every Guild member has access to them. Everybody will benefit from that, from the baker to the customer,” says Rosada.
But the benefits also ripple out beyond that. The kind of discipline and skill required of Bakery World Cup competitors nurtures bakers of the best kind, those with a passion for the industry, a passion for the quality of the products they make and the technical ability to back that passion up. The quality and taste of the products we sell, in the end, is really the only thing that matters when it comes to creating and maintaining the industry’s reputation with customers. That’s something the whole industry reaps the rewards of.
Along with a win of this sort comes attention — media attention. After its win in 2005, Team USA made a number of local and national media appearances, including Good Morning America. Media attention catches the consumer’s eye. Which translates to something similar to free advertising, but it’s the kind of advertising that you really can’t attach a value to. In a world inundated by commercials and billboards, a world where people are even paid to wear certain brands of clothing, where advertising finds its way into our home, to our inboxes and our cell phones, something deemed worthy of a trusted media outlet’s attention is something we deem worthy of our attention.
With a Team Canada in the next Bakery World Cup, that kind of attention could be focused on Canada’s baking industry. But only if the support is there beforehand; no jumping on the bandwagon in the last few minutes of the game. It needs to be now.
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