Team Canada gearing up
By Brian Hartz
Team Canada did not qualify for the last Coupe du Monde de la
Boulangerie (Bakery World Cup), in 2008, but Alan Dumonceaux, Bill Clay
and Tracey Muzzolini are aiming to change that for the next edition of
the prestigious baking competition.
|Team Canada competing at the previous Louis Lesaffre Cup, in Mexico. From left: Tracey Muzzolini, Bill Clay and Didier Julien. |
Team Canada did not qualify for the last Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (Bakery World Cup), in 2008, but Alan Dumonceaux, Bill Clay and Tracey Muzzolini are aiming to change that for the next edition of the prestigious baking competition.
Dumonceaux, chairman of the baking program in the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), is heading up Team Canada’s effort to be a factor in the competition and is looking for one more participant as the regional qualifier, known as the Louis Lesaffre Cup, approaches.
Returning to the team are Clay, owner of Bodhi’s Bakery in Nanaimo, B.C., and Muzzolini, co-owner of Christie’s Mayfair Bakery in Saskatoon, Sask.
To be held at the next International Baking Industry Exposition, Sept. 26-29, 2010, in Las Vegas, the Louis Lesaffre Cup requires teams of three to produce a specific number of baked goods in categories such as baguette, specialty and ethnic breads, Viennoiserie, artistic design, and savory selection, within a set amount of time. The competition provides a great opportunity to identify and showcase regional talent and places a spotlight on the skill, passion and pride paramount to the artisan baking profession.
Clay says potential competitors should not feel overwhelmed by the challenge of representing Canada and spending time away from their business, but rather, they should welcome the opportunity for personal and professional growth.
“I got asked at the last minute to go to the last competition, in Mexico,” he says. “I stepped into someone else’s shoes. I had never made a bread showpiece in my life and had only 90 days to get ready. My formal training was as a pastry chef and I had just sort of fallen into baking, but being part of Team Canada made me realize that artisan bread baking was my true calling.”
Muzzolini, who competed in the bread category in the previous Louis Lesaffre Cup, concurs, saying the experience made her a better baker and a better person.
“I am a more confident person and baker as a result of the Team Canada experience,” she says. “For me, this is a huge achievement.”
Both Team Canada veterans cited the opportunity to travel and interact with – and thus learn from – fellow bakers as incentives for taking this plunge onto the world stage. And while it’s certainly tough for a baker to be away from his or her bakery, thanks to donations and sponsorships, most of the costs associated with the competition and its preparation are covered.
“You get to work with different personalities and be exposed to new styles,” says Clay. “You get to travel across this great country getting ready and then travelling to the qualifier. And all it costs you is time.”
Muzzolini comes across as a baker with something to prove this time around, after Team Canada missed out on being in the top 12 teams that went on to compete in Paris.
“[We have to] practice, practice, practice in as many different venues as possible,” she says. “Each individual has to practice on their own, then practice together as a team as much as possible. Bringing in experts in each category to offer coaching to each team member is crucial. We need to raise the sufficient funds and find sponsors to support this effort. Also, as Canadians, we need to swallow our humble pie and go into the competition with a winning attitude. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t make it to Paris in 2012 and be on that winning podium!”
Looking back on the previous campaign, Clay doesn’t rue the stiff competition that prevented Team Canada from advancing; instead, he appreciates how it brought out the best of his abilities.
“I got to hone my skills on the world stage and compete against the best in the world in artistic showpiece,” he says. “Like any competition on the world stage, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. It’s the same thing in baking as hockey or football. There’s no second place, so you strive to be the best. We came in second place in Mexico, it was unfortunate, but c’est la vie.”
Muzzolini, for one, is not satisfied with second place and is looking for people to step up and embrace this chance to burnish Canada’s reputation in the global baking industry.
“I would say to any serious artisan baker out there who is looking to challenge themselves to raise their own skill level, this is an amazing opportunity,” she adds. “The travel aspect is fabulous, and you are treated like royalty. But the truth is that you get out of it what you put in. You have to be willing to dedicate a lot of personal time to practice and develop products. You have to be prepared to push yourself and take criticism. [But] it is a lot of fun and a great, life-changing experience.
“[I want to] showcase Canadian talent to the rest of the world. It was my experience that internationally, people don’t think we can make good bread here. I want to show them that we have talent and passion for bread making.”
The 2012 Bakery World Cup takes place at Europain in Paris. For more information, including an application form for Team Canada, contact Dumonceaux at 780-471-8693 or firstname.lastname@example.org.