People - you need not wait until February 7th to root for your team. On February 6th history will be in the making in Paris, and that is what everyone should really be paying attention to. This ain't no sporting event. What is about to go down is a true competition in every sense of the word, a test of speed, skill, creativity, and focus. This, my friends, is an international baking competition.
In a few days we board a plane headed for France, where Nick will compete as the Artisan Bread Baker for Team USA in the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. Watch out world, the Americans are coming and they are hungry for gold. My husband, Nicky Giusto, along with Jeffrey De Leon (Viennoiserie), Jacob Baggenstos (Artistic Design) and their amazing coach Harry Peemoeller, have put in over a year of preparation and practice for this day. Their time has come.
You may be asking yourself, how the heck does one competitively BAKE? Here is the short and dirty:
::: 12 Countries have made it to the final selection and assembled three person teams to compete - watch for Japan (2012 Gold), Netherlands, Canada, France to be strong.
::: Each team has a two hour preparation period the night before, followed by a strict eight hour session in which to complete all of their pieces - some 400 pieces of bread and pastry, and one large bread sculpture. Not finishing in the designated time period takes you out of the running for gold no matter how fantastic your products.
::: There are both "obligatory" pieces (Croissant, Baguette) and "freestyle" pieces (Nutritional, Aromatic Bread of Your Country), where the baker can show their creativity. A bread sculpture is exactly how it sounds - a beautiful sculpture made entirely out of bread! Completely edible. Most of it is made up of "dead" dough (no yeast, which makes it easier to work with), while at least 30% must be yeasted.
::: The theme for the Coupe this year is "Sports Nutrition". I am curious to see how each country weaves this into their presentation.
It has been fascinating following along throughout this process. I was fortunate enough to join a recent practice held in Charlotte, North Carolina at Johnson & Wales, where Harry teaches baking. The intensity and focus in the room is so sharp you could cut it with a knife. For fourteen hours straight they move with precision, anticipating each other's needs and getting it done. So tune in with me on the 6th and root our boys on! I will be down in the booth with the judges as the official team photographer, many more riveting baking shots to come...