24th Annual U.S. Pastry Competition: Full coverage

Detail of runner up Sandro Micheli's showpiece

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.

Detail from Ben Shelton's display piece - the apple signified "temptation"

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.

Winner Ben Shelton with his plaque
Sandro Micheli's full showpiece
Sandro Micheli's incredible sugar work at the bottom of his showpiece
Maura Metheny's showpiece also had some fantastic sugar flowers
Detail from Maura Metheny's showpiece
The winners: 2nd from left 3rd place Maura Metheny, winner Ben Shelton (holding plaque), runner-up Sandro Micheli and honorable mention Salvatore Settepani
Florian Bellanger was surprised and happy to receive 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.

Dominique Ansel takes some time to hold each plate up and examine it
Do not disturb-- MOF at work judging! Georges Berger
Michael Laiskonis, Creative Director at ICE

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.

Ron Paprocki, from Gotham Bar and Grill also takes the judging very seriously
Ron Paprocki of Gotham Bar and Grill. I didn't get a chance to ask him ho the late night three-dessert-tasting was going.
Red Rooster's Deborah Racicot was focused at the job at hand
Bloggers weren't the only ones taking pictures! Judge Jim McNamara snaps a shot of this Bon Bon with his phone.
Competing isn't nearly as exhausting as judging! Iuzzini grabs a few "Z's" in between cakes (in truth he was just hamming it up for this shot).
Recent Top 10 Pastry Chef Marc Aumont from The Modern also seemed to enjoy his stint as a judge
Jean Georges Pastry Chef Joe Murphy seemed to also enjoy being a judge
Dominique Ansel taking a quick break from judging

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:

Follow DessertBuzz on Twitter for live updates from the competition at the Javits Center

11 thoughts on “24th Annual U.S. Pastry Competition: Full coverage”

  1. Hi, i just see how it s possible Salvatore Settepani is competting, and Biagio Settepani is in the jurrors?

  2. Samos, I didn’t even notice that. I’ll try and find out if he recused himself or something. In any event he got an honorable mention vs. main placing.

  3. Biagio only judged the junior competition and was not involved in judging the main, US Pastry Competition his son was competing in.

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