FOR the very first time, the Philippines is represented in the World Pastry Cup, Coupe Du Monde de la Pátisserie, in Lyons, France!
A three-man contingent from the Philippines—composed of Rizalino Mañas, 28; Bryan Dimayuga, 24; and Vicente Cahatol, 36; all from Makati Shangri-La Hotel—will compete with 20 other teams from different countries today, January 25, 2015, in what is considered to be the premier pastry competition in the world.
Well-known Filipino pastry chef Buddy Trinidad, president of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines (PAP), is part of the official team as juror. According to contest rules, though, he sits as one of the judges of the competition but cannot participate in evaluating the creations of the Philippine team.
The competition at the World Pastry Cup runs 10 hours long, nonstop, within which each team is required to create three chocolate desserts with great wines using sponsor product Valrhona, three frozen fruit desserts using another sponsor product Ravifruit, 12 identical plated desserts, sugar showcase, chocolate showcase, ice craving and ice cream cake.
New rules for the 2015 competition also requires each team to carve a block of Valrhona chocolate and integrate this into the team’s chocolate showcase. New rules likewise challenge members of the team to use two ice blocks with identical dimensions for their ice sculpture, as well as to make sure their sugar sculpture is composed of at least 50% sugar and blown sugar. These new rules had been designed to test the competitors’ technical skills.
A daunting task, indeed, but the team remains unfazed and accepts the challenge wholeheartedly. After all, the Philippine team is made up of seasoned pastry chefs and kitchen artists. Rizalino Mañas has been with Makati Shangri-La Hotel as Pastry Commis Chef since 2011. Bryan Dimayuga holds the same position and has been with the hotel for the same number of years. Vicente Cahatol, Chief Kitchen Artist of Makati Shangri-La Hotel since 2012, hails from Paete, Laguna, home of the country’s foremost sculptors. Influenced by his two brothers, he has been carving since age 12 and can carve anything, from ice and chocolate to butter, wood and Styrofoam.
To make their creations stand out, the Philippine team will be using some local ingredients whenever they can, such as mango and calamansi.
“Eto na. Lahat na. Wala nang balikan,” says the bespectacled Mañas.
(*This is it. We’ll give it our all. There’s no second chance.)
“This is the first time that the Philippines has qualified to compete in a world culinary competition,” says Chef Buddy, whose Pastry Alliance of the Philippines is the driving force behind all efforts to get a Philippine team to qualify for the World Pastry Cup in Lyons, France.
PAP’s board of directors is composed of today’s who’s who in the Philippine pastry industry, include Chef James Antolin of Antolin Culinary Consultancy as vice president, cake artist extraordinaire Chef Penk Ching of Pastry Bin as chief operating officer, Chef Peachy Juban of Shortcrust as corporate secretary, Chef Dan Basilio of the Lyceum of the Philippines Manila as treasurer, and Chef Jackie Ang-Po of Fleur de Lys Patisserie as PR officer.
A small support team from among the PAP officers have accompanied the team to Lyons, France, for moral and technical support. They are confident that the Philippine team will fare well in the World Pastry Cup competitions and that the team is as qualified for the championship as the competing teams from other countries in terms of skill, talent and creativity, despite the limitations that it had to face.
While members of most of the other competing teams automatically stopped working and focused their energies on practicing for the World Pastry Cup competitions as soon as they qualified for it because their respective governments provided them with stipend to enable them to drop their day jobs during the preparation period, members of the Philippine team had to continue reporting for work, although Makati Shangri-La Hotel generously gave the three members of the team one day official leave every week to practice. Some teams have even been practicing full time for over a year now. Still, the Philippine team comes to the World Pastry Cup raring to go and hungry to show the world what Filipinos can do.
The Philippine team first won in the Philippine Culinary Cup in 2013, thus qualifying them to join the Asian Pastry Cup held in Singapore in April 2014. Making a second and historic win there, the team made the Philippines one of the five countries from Asia to qualify for the World Pastry Cup in Lyons,France.
It took three years to get to the World Pastry Cup, which is held only every two years.
“After 10 years of trying, we’re on our way. I don’t know when this will happen again,” says mentor Chef James Antolin.
“This is all for the country,” Chef Penk Ching adds.
Since its inception in 1989, the World Pastry Cup has been dominated by Europeans. France has won the gold seven times, while Spain, Italy and Belgium have all won once, with the United States also winning once and Japan taking the gold twice. No Southeast Asian country has won.
Could this be Southeast Asia’s — and the Philippines’ — time to shine?
Let’s all pray for the Philippine team.