Editor’s Letter: May 2015
By Brian Hartz
Members of Canada’s baking industry are preparing to gather in Montreal for Bakery Congress 2015. Taking place May 31-June 1 at the city’s Palais des congrès de Montréal, it will feature more than 43,000 square feet of space devoted to the latest innovations in ingredients, equipment and services of interest to the baking industry and allied trades.
Thousands will flock from all corners of Canada for this event, but while we enjoy a few days to learn and network in one of North America’s most beautiful cities, let’s spare a thought for the members of Baking Team Canada, who won’t be with us. Instead, they will be competing in the Americas division of the Louis Lesaffre Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from May 30 to June 6.
Should they prevail in South America, Team Canada will go on to compete against 11 other nations for the Bakery World Cup (Coupe du monde de la boulangerie) at Europain in Paris next spring. They will be competing for one of only nine team spots (as finalists in the previous Bakery World Cup, Japan, Taiwan and the United States have already been pre-selected).
They are going to need your help.
I spoke with Baking Team Canada captain Alan Dumonceaux in March as he and fellow team members Marcus Mariathas and James Holehouse were in the midst of practicing in advance of their trip to Buenos Aires. He informed me that the team faces a major budget shortfall due to lack of sponsorship and increased travel costs.
Changes to the format for the 2014-15 Louis Lesaffre Cup, Dumonceaux explained, call for the addition of a fourth member to the team – a “young hopeful” representing the best of each country’s next generation of bakers. The young hopefuls are coached by their national team but do not compete in the judged categories (baguette and world bread, Viennese pastry and gastronomic bread-making, and artistic showpiece). Instead, they are responsible for their own separate product demonstration. The young hopeful, however, must travel with the team to Argentina – a significant addition to the travel budget.
“We have a really good chance to get Paris,” Dumonceaux said, but “the road to success requires great dedication and commitment by all the individuals associated with the team.”
That road also requires financial support. If the team qualifies for the Bakery World Cup in March 2016, its budget will skyrocket.
Many of you are probably facing your own budget shortfalls. That’s perfectly understandable: economic recoveries take time.
But some things are bigger than the bottom line.
It’s time to team up. If a full-blown sponsorship of Team Canada isn’t feasible, consider other ways to help. Donate some equipment, ingredients or other material that the team will need as they hone their skills. The scope of the categories has broadened for the 2014-15 Lesaffre Cup, and thus competing teams will need to practice making more products than in previous years.
Think about this: If every exhibitor and attendee at this year’s Bakery Congress donated about $66 to Team Canada, they would easily meet their $100,000 budget goal for the rest of this year and well into 2016 – when, if all goes according to plan, they’ll be making us proud in Paris.
We can’t all be Olympic athletes – or World Cup bakers, for that matter – but we can support the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the people who represent us on the world stage.