The 24th annual US Pastry Competition sponsored by Paris Gourmet took place yesterday at the Javits Center in New York City. DessertBuzz was there to bring you our usual, behind-the-scenes coverage you won’t find anywhere else. You can check out some highlights from yesterday via our Twitter feed. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day.
A New York City affair: There were a lot of NYC-based pastry chefs at the competition. To be exact, seven out of the fifteen participants were from the five boroughs, and more than half of the judges too! Despite the home court and home judge advantage, non-New Yorker, Pastry Chef Ben Shelton from PreGel America took home top honors. Daniel’s Sandro Micheli took second and Maura Metheny from Norman Love Confections took third. Salvatore Settepani from Pasticceria Bruno Bakery was an honorable mention. Florian Bellanger also received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The judges: Despite brief moments of levity I was struck (and am always struck frankly) by how seriously the judges take their responsibilities. Without exception each judge takes a huge amount of time tasting and viewing the entries. Every juror has their own style too. Some, like Dominique Ansel, hold each slice of cake up to eye level and stare at it for a while. Others like Georges Berger, MOF puts on his reading glasses and simply observes the cake on the plate for a minute or two.
I asked Michael Laiskonis if it’s hard to judge 15 different pieces of cake and specifically, how he keeps track of all the different cakes. He explained that he doesn’t really have to keep track of them because they are all different and are all being judged against a standard rather that against one another. He said that if he was judging 15 cakes that were all the same, milk chocolate mousses, for example, it would be challenging.
Ansel says he enjoys being a judge at these competitions because it gets him out of the bakery and out seeing what [other chefs] are working on.
The complete list of finalists:
The judges or “jurors” for the 2013 competition are here: