FOR ten long years, the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines (PAP) dreamt of making it to the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, or World Pastry Cup, in Lyon, France. Its officials worked real hard to make it happen, training batches upon batches of young, talented and persevering pastry chefs to win awards not just in the local front but also in international competitions. In Hong Kong and Singapore, Team Philippines has time and again brought home medals.
Last year, it finally happened. Team Philippines qualified for the World Pastry Cup. The road to Lyon, France, was not easy, though, as the PAP had to assemble a really good team to represent the Philippines, practice sessions had to be squeezed into the members’ work schedules, and funds had to be raised to enable the team members to physically make it to Lyon, as well.
Well, Team Philippines did make it to Lyon, France, last month (January 2015) to compete in the 2015 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, and came home with a bonus. The three-man team — composed of Rizalino Mañas Jr., team captain and sugar artist; Bryan Dimayuga as chocolate artist and dessert chef; and Vicente Cahatol, ice and chocolate carver — finished 12th out of 21 competing teams and took home the Best in Ice Sculpture special prize for Cahatol’s rendition of the Strong Aeta Man on ice.
It’s more than what Team Philippines ever hoped for.
Accompanied by PAP president Chef Buddy Trinidad as Philippine Jury Representative and a lean but mean Pastry Support Team made up of James Antolin, Penk Ching, Peachy Juban, Jackie Ang Po, Dan Basilio and Miko Aspiras (competition alternate), Team Philippines was happy just to be there in the World Pastry Cup and show the world what Filipino pastry chefs can do.
After all, the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie is the most prestigious competition in the world of pastry, and the Finale is held every two years within SIRHA at the Eurexpo in Lyon, France. This year, over 100 teams vied in various qualifying heats held in Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America. A total of 21 national teams competed in the Finale this year and, during the Finale, the competing teams were given 10 hours to compete six challenges — three chocolate desserts, one artistic creation made of sugar, three frozen fruit desserts, one artistic creation made of chocolate, twelve plated desserts, and one artistic creation made of sculptured water ice.
What Team Philippines did was put together a buffet called Siklo: The Hunt. The base represented the Philippine Archipelago, made up of 7,100 islands.
For the Chocolate Showpiece, they had the Fearless Woman of the Aboriginal Aeta Tribe. Eighty-five percent of Aeta women hunt, can use a now and arrow, and provide two-thirds of the family’s food.
For the Sugar Showpiece, Team Philippines presented the Philippine Brown Deer. It is a nocturnal animal that likes to stay hidden during the day and grazes on grass, leaves, fruits and berries at night. Mañas’ interpretation of the Philippine Brown Deer on sugar was simply incredible, so incredible that one would not think it’s possible to achieve it with sugar art. The eyes of the deer are simply awesome!
For the Carving from a Chocolate Block, the Philippine team showcased the Philippine Sail fin Lizard, an excellent swimmer found in riverbanks and rice paddies. Greenish in color, it turns violet as it grows older. The chocolate carving’s attention to detail, down to the texture of the lizard’s skin, can give the best in the world a run for its money.
Finally, for the Ice Carving, Cahatol skillfully chiseled out the Strong Aeta Man, carrying a deer on his shoulders, which went on to grab the Best Ice Sculpture special award.
Why the Aeta theme?
The small-statured Aeta tribe happens to be one of the last remaining indigenous tribes in the Philippines struggling to retain kinship of what forest remain in their inherited land that figured in the cataclysmic 1991 Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruption.
The manner in which these tribal warriors have struggled to retain their heritage through the years and despite all odds is reflective of the courage, persistence and resilience of Team Philippines competitors in the Coupe du Mode de la Patisserie.
For their desserts, Team Philippines took advantage of the sweet tropical fruits that grow in the Philippines, blending fruits and flavors most identified with the country and combined these with Western accent to achieve balance in the recipes presented.
The desserts gave tribute to the respective hometowns of the three members of Team Philippines: Batangas for Bryan Dimayuga, Manila for Rizalino Mañas Jr. and Paete, Laguna, for Vicente Cahatol.
For the Chocolate Entremet, it was Kape Barako, referring to the strongly flavored coffee variety that comes from the Southern province of Batangas. The pastry had layers of Valrhona Araguani Custard Mousse and Jivara Supreme, crunchy Valrhona Guanaja and Pecan sponge cake, highlighted with a Coffee Crème Brulee layer made from Philippine coffee beans with earthy notes and bold cacao flavors, hints of Lemon Gelee Confiture, enveloped with Valrhona Jivara and Coffee Chocolate Glaze.
For the Ice Cream Cake, Team Philippines presented Manila Sunset, whose bright layers reflected the world-famous Manila Bay Sunset. The frozen dessert had a dome made with luscious layers of Litchi and Vanilla Crème Glacé, a sorbet of Mandarin Orange, Passion fruit and Philippine Mango, a delicate Tonka bean and Vanilla parfait and Raspberry sorbet, all on top of an Almond and Hazelnut Dacquoise and coated with a clear fruit glaze.
For the Plated Dessert, it had to be Laguna, a Calamansi and Carmelia Cremeux, with Pineapple Confiture, whipped Ivoire and Coconut Ganache, pieces of Almond and Coconut Dacquoise, contained in a Pitcher plant-shaped chocolate cup, served with Passion fruit Gelee and Micro Sponge.
Team Philippines skillfully finished the task within the 10-hour time limit and made a strong showing in the 2015 World Pastry Cup, which saw Italy taking First Prize, Japan settling for Second Prize, and the United States of America taking home Third Prize. As this year’s winner, Italy will sit out the next competition, and the Top 7 finishing teams automatically qualifying for the next Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie. Just being there in a competition of the best among the best and even landing 12th place was enough for Team Philippines, so the Best in Ice Sculpture special prize came as a really big bonus.
The journey was worth it. So, congratulations to Team Philippines and the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines wishes to thank those who made it happen — its partners Gourdo’s, Kitchen Aid, Peotraco Industries, PEP Group and Makati Shangri-La Hotel; sponsors Les Jeunes Chefs of LPU Manila, Les Toques Blanches Philippines, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, PCSO, KLM and San Miguel Pure Foods Great Food Solutions; donors Magnolia, College of St. Benilde, ESV International Corp., Ferna Corporation and UniComm; and friends Puratos Philippines, KLG International and Top Chef Enterprise.
Invaluable help was also extended to Team Philippines by Ambassador to France Teresa Lazaro, Protocol Officer Frankson Ong, Vice Consul and Team translator Rapunzel Acop, Dennis Hipolito, the Filipino Community in Lyon led by Rommel and Chiqui Nidea, Simon and Chelle Fernan, Ching Arca and the team’s indispensable Lyon liaison Rommel Arca.
(Photos courtesy of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines.)