‘Every year, we see tears, happiness, emotion… We are lucky to work in a sector with great human values’
Like in Hollywood, every year the legendary sentence ‘the winner is…’ is heard. The person announcing these words is Xavier Noel, president of Paris Gourmet, alongside his brother Dominique, vice president of the company. They are the founders of a very special contest, the US Pastry Competition, which annually chooses the Pastry Chef of the Year.
It all started in New York in 1989, under the organization of Cointreau and the Vatel Club, and it was just a local competition in the beginning. When the Noel brothers took the lead of the company, they decided to give the competition a chance, ‘nobody had done anything like that in the US before, so it was a great opportunity to unite the professional community’ remembers Dominique.
After 24 editions, the US Pastry Competition is the great reference for all those professionals who want to find their way in the trade, ‘it is a great showcase to introduce new techniques and combinations of flavors, and is the first springboard to get others to know you and even enter other international competitions’, says Xavier.
Indeed, this competition has been decisive to discover chefs like Michel Willaume, Sébastien Canonne, Eric Bedoucha, En-Ming Hsu or Nathaniel Reid, among others, who eventually developed fruitful professional careers.
However, the most important point of this story is that Xavier and Dominique have achieved an objective which is more significant than the coordination of a successful event – they have created a professional community which is always prepared to welcome those who would like to approach it, and which stands not only on professional values. The competition is a clear reflection of that character, ‘every year, we see tears, happiness and emotion. We are lucky to work in a sector with great human values’, adds Dominique.
In Paris Gourmet, they work hard all year round on an event which just lasts for a few hours. Not only has the competition grown in quality, but also in the level of the contestants, and the best ones have to be summoned. Therefore, the selection has to be very accurate. Besides, other aspects like the organization, the jury, the materials, etc. also need being dealt with. After the latest edition, last March 3, in which young Ben Shelton was crowned, the organizing team are already working hard on the next edition, which will be the 25th one, that is, the silver jubilee of this veteran competition, ‘we would love to reunite lots of the professionals who have been with us during all these years and have a great celebration’ they conclude.