Taking on the Pastry World: Quebec pastry chefs prepare for Le Mondial des Arts Sucrés.
By Jane Ayer
By Jane Ayer
For months now, Quebec pastry chefs Marie-Josée Lacombe and Jean-Luc
Piquemal have been planning and preparing and training for three days
at the end of March. During those three days, they’ll compete against
teams from 12 other countries in the 2008 International Confectionary
Arts Competition (Le Mondial des Arts Sucrés) to be named the best
male-female confectionery arts team in the world.
For months now, Quebec pastry chefs Marie-Josée Lacombe and Jean-Luc Piquemal have been planning and preparing and training for three days at the end of March. During those three days, they’ll compete against teams from 12 other countries in the 2008 International Confectionary Arts Competition (Le Mondial des Arts Sucrés) to be named the best male-female confectionery arts team in the world.
It all began for Team Canada when pastry chef instructor (the team’s director) Roch Desjardins of Quebec college CFP Jacques-Rousseau was approached by a contact with the organizing committee to put a team together to compete at the sugar arts competition. He says he immediately thought of Eddy Rosine as the team coach. Rosine (originally from France) is executive pastry chef for a Quebec-based chocolate company and has competed in a number of similar events in his long career. He’s well acquainted with the pressure that comes with participating in a competition such as Le Mondial des Arts Sucrés. Together, Rosine and Desjardins came up with the name of their first team member. They both agreed it had to be Jean-Luc Piquemal, a French (from France) pastry shop and restaurant owner based in Quebec City. Piquemal has participated in a long list of competitions and won a gold medal in the Culinary Olympics in Germany in 2004.
|The team, from left to right: Eddy Rosine, Marie-Josée Lacombe, Jean-Luc Piquemal and Roch Desjardins.
After recruiting Piquemal, the three men put their heads together and came up with one name: Marie-Josée Lacombe, a pastry chef with a Quebec hotel who had no experience in competing, but whom all three knew as extremely talented. They thought she’d be perfect for their team.
“I wasn’t sure if I was ready,” admits Lacombe, “but I thought if all three of them thought of me that I’d regret it if I didn’t do it.”
And so they plunged ahead, meeting for the first time as a team in July to discuss themes and tasks. From there it’s been a long road of practising together and independently and trying to drum up support and sponsors (finding sponsors has been Desjardins’ task, see the complete list below). What keeps them motivated, despite the long hours and time away from family?
“I’ve learned a lot (from working with the team),” says Rosine. “I consider myself old school, but I know there’s always something to learn. And it will probably be the last time I do this.”
For Desjardins, the motivation is simple: he’s made a commitment to himself and to the team.
“The principle is that we’ve said yes and we’re in it to the end,” says Desjardins.
Lacombe says she’s already gotten so much out of the process, including a huge boost in self confidence, that there’s no way she could go back.
“I don’t regret anything,” she says.
As for Piquemal?
As a Frenchman, he’s in it “to kick some French ass,” he jokes.
But on a more serious note, adds Piquemal, “it’s my passion, so it’s not really work.”
As for winning, all the team members say the same thing: it’s not really about that, although it would be nice (as would the € 8000 first place award the team would share). Piquemal sums it up.
“(Winning) is important in one way, because in Canada it’s difficult to get sponsors, so it could be helpful for getting more sponsors. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do everything to win, but the fact of winning or losing, it’s not important at all. It's important during the moment they say you've won or lost, but one hour after the competition the award will be in the drawer with the others. You can be a world champion but you are a world champion for one hour – the day after you have to show that you are good again.”
Sponsors: Souris et Bec Sucré, Maison Gourmet, DGF, Natrel, Town and Country, FCC, APAQ, Després Laporte, Can-am, Chocolaterie Heyez, Design et Réalisation, Les Emballages Florisec, Satin Ice, Les Vergers Lafrance, Galerie au Chocolat, Hans Mathys, France Décors, Vollrath, AAC, Gouvernement Québec, Gouvern-ement Canada, La Gourmandine, La Sapinière, CFP Jacques-Rousseau.