Beating the French team in France in pastry (or Italy in Italy in ice cream making) is a feat at the height of the greatest feats in human history. This is exactly what happened in a unique edition of the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, held in Lyon this past weekend, with only 11 countries participating instead of the twenty from previous editions. The Italian team’s victory, which has achieved its third victory in 12 participations with this, was a walkover. Their superiority was such that they got 304 points more than the team that came in second, Japan, and 380 more than a French team who, coming in third, mournfully took the podium without explaining what had happened so that history, tradition, and even custom were not fulfilled on this occasion.
What happened and explains, at least in part, the unusual results is that the team made up of Lorenzo Puca, Andrea Restuccia, and Massimo Pica knew how to better adapt to the novelties introduced in the championship, and even to the uncertainty of the situation that the world has gone through in the last year and a half. As stated by the captain of the Italian team, Alessandro Dalmaso, they dedicated a year and a half to intensive preparation, some days from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and with the support of a whole united sector.
Regarding the changes in the regulations, for the first time in the history of the competition, a mandatory theme was set, “All art is an imitation of Nature.” And what scene is more bucolic and symbolic of natural art than a bee making honey and two friendly ants collecting the sweet liquid?
Also for the first time and in order to promote the profession of “dessert maker”, an unequivocal restaurant concept was required, plating a dessert, and not a simple individual cake in the center of a plate. As established by the Organization itself, chaired by Pierre Hermé, a restaurant’s dessert has nothing to do with a boutique cake, therefore, the jury and the criteria are different. These are ephemeral desserts that are tasted immediately after they are made. They can be hot, cold, frozen, or a mixture of temperatures. They had to also provide the “fluidity of service”, as in a restaurant. Along these lines, for the first time a specialized jury was summoned to assess this test, with names such as Jordi Roca, Dominique Crenn, or Giuseppe Amato, among others. Italy once again knew how to perfectly capture this requirement with a dessert that was well-connected with the general theme, displayed throughout the entire plate, with different textures and temperatures and with a sensation of freshness and magical weightlessness. All this with honey as the connecting thread in terms of flavors and with an aesthetic that represented the moment of pollination. It should be noted that in this section, the Organization insisted on aspects such as eco-responsibility and expressly prohibited the use of additives, colorants, glitter, or titanium dioxide.
In the dessert to share, Italy presented a vanilla and orange shortcrust pastry base, with a chocolate pastry cream, a vanilla diplomat cream, an orange jelly, and a chocolate diplomat. And in the frozen cake they opted for almond, raspberry, and mascarpone as the main flavors. In both cases with a beautifully made and impeccable presentation.
We have always highlighted the competitive spirit of Italian pastry chefs when they face a competition as demanding as this. Not surprisingly, the team itself explains its triumph in four words: precision, concentration, imagination, and sacrifice. But on this occasion we must also praise technical quality, perfection in the execution, and even their experience (two of the three team members had already come third place in the previous edition).
Congratulations to the Italian bee which clearly defeated the Japanese giraffe and left the French rooster featherless.