18 Jun. 2018
Created by the Relais Desserts in 2013, the Prizes of Excellence celebrated haute pastry in a new manner for this 5thedition. At last, it was a real big party honoring pastry and gathering all of its actors around a prestigious gala dinner. On the menu? The finest in the field came to see eight Prizes of Excellence being awarded.
At the newly restored and bright Gabriel Pavilion, three hundred guests attended the very chic pastry gala dinner and enjoyed the awarding of the eight Prizes of Excellence on Sunday, June 17. As the President of Relais Desserts, Frédéric Cassel says: “The idea was to gather all these professionals around the same table; we often see each other around the world but not necessarily around a good meal, even though in the end we are the highlight of it.” A gala looking a lot like the Oscars of the Sweet where refinement was mandatory and where Frédéric Cassel saw his wish come true, and to quote him “raise the profession with elegance”. So, a certain idea of pastry to pass on to new generations.
The best in pastry
The awarding of eight Excellence Awards highlighted the gala dinner signed Potel & Chabot, emceed by Faustine Ballaert and Loïc Ballet. An award given by the whole profession, almost 3,000 people who voted via the Internet, thanks to a list of nominees sent to every representative of the business. Pastry Chefs, chocolate and ice-cream makers, confectioners, seasoned caterers and deli owners of which many “MOF” (Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Best Worker in France) as well as young beginners, were able to express themselves on equal footing in order to select the best craftsmen of Haute Pastry. Yet, the Relais Desserts, which organized the event, kept the exclusive rights to two awards: “Outstanding Career” and “Hope”. “It is very important for our companies to encourage young talent” pointed out Frédéric Cassel. “This wonderful prize” as he calls it, indeed pushed the chefs to challenge each other, each very close to their protégé and wanting to see him/her win an ExcellenceAward. So, Alexandre Thabard, currently at Lenôtre where he is preparing his ice-cream trade certificate under Jean-Christophe Jeanson’s mentorship, received the “Hope” award. Alexandre, almost twenty, has been in apprenticeship since he was 15; he already has pastry and chocolate-maker/confectioner certificates in his pocket. “Ever since I was a kid, pastry has been a passion of mine, I used to bake cakes with my grandmother all the time, although I’m the one who brings them to her now. This award opens the door for me to the pastry world and allows me to compare myself to others, to evaluate my level.”
As a matter of fact, in each region the Relais Desserts had preselected young talents, so nine of them, all under 25, competed Saturday, June 16, the day prior to the event at the Bellouet Conseil School (directed by Michel Perruchon) during two trials. In one, they had to make a strawberry-based entremets and in the next one, a bit more difficult, they had to create a puff-pastry based little cake, starting with an ingredients buffet revealed only at the last minute. As Yves Thuriès, winner of the “Outstanding Career” award, explains: “The Relais Desserts continue to ensure the transfer of knowledge of this profession to our young people. Only 30 years ago, recipes were kept secret!” Knowing the pastry chef has worked tirelessly towards sharing them through thirty books no less (among which a twelve-volume encyclopedia) he adds: “As far as our business goes, it is moving in the right direction, and thankfully we’ll always need human hands!” And if desserts are global, pastry is typically French and continues to evolve!
And if rewarding the best “Hope Award” was important, winning “Young EnterpriseAward” was just as crucial since pastry chefs are as much artists of taste as they are entrepreneurs. The same goes for “Promotion of Pastry Abroad”, which confirms peer recognition and this year goes to Pierre Hermé. Also equally sought-after, the prizes awarded per specialty, such as “Ice-cream Maker” or “Chocolate MakerAward” or per type of field such as “Restaurant Pastry ChefAward” or “Boutique Pastry ChefAward”. To Jérôme De Oliveira—“Young EnterpriseAward” winner: “Pastry means endless happiness and this award represents the whole profession’s acknowledgement of the work we and our teams have been doing for 6 years.” For now, he is already busy with a new boutique opening and the setting up of pastry classes: “Adapting to new ways of consuming is at stake, such as selling on the Internet all the while respecting the quality of the products we use so the taste can live up to the picture.”
Frédéric Cassel concludes: “The idea was to highlight pastry chefs the same way the chefs (cuisine, En) are. They are true stars and are talked about in the media.” In other words, give credit to pastry Chefs, as they deserve the credit… As if pastry Oscars. It is now a done deal.
The Winners of the Relais Desserts Pastry Excellence Awards 2018
- Ice-Cream Maker: Emmanuel Ryon and Olivier Ménard Une Glace A Paris (Paris) (An Ice-Cream in Paris)
- Chocolate Maker: Patrick Roger
- Hope: Alexandre Thabard, House of Lenôtre
- Young Enterprise: Jérôme De Oliveira (and his wife Aurore), Intuition Pastry Shop (Cannes)
- Promotion of Pastry Abroad: Pierre Hermé
- Restaurant Pastry Chef: Lillian Bonnefoi, Eden Roc Hotel-Restaurant (Antibes)
- Outstanding Career: Yves Thuriès
- Boutique Pastry Chef: Claire Damon, Des Gateaux et du Pain (Paris) (Cakes and Bread)