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With a theme of “Haute Couture,” the jury was tasked with
carefully evaluating each contestant’s pieces and their creativity
with chocolate. Headed by President of Honor, Yves Thuriès,
Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the jury also included Presidents
Jacques Bellanger, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, and Jean-Philippe
Darcis, Belgium’s First Chocolatier and jury representatives from
all the nineteen countries.
Contestants are required to create a complete range of
chocolate items, including a chocolate showpiece, a molded and
a dipped praline, a chocolate pastry, a chocolate dessert and a
decorated haute couture hat. Apart from the overall title, Chef
Hirai also took home the International Press Award and the Best
Chocolate Showpiece award with his creation
Baroque Romance
– a chocolate sculpture in the form of a mannequin posing for
a photographer, designed to represent his understanding of
baroque style in modern life.
“I am honored to have won such a prestigious award,” said
Chef Hirai. “The challenges began in the preliminary contest in
Japan, and with the support I received, I was able to come this
far to Paris. I hope to be a good role model for the younger staff
of Grand Hyatt Tokyo, and with this award, I have certainly
gained confidence to develop further as a patisserie.”
Chef Hirai joined the Grand Hyatt Tokyo’s pastry department
in 2003 and currently works as sous chef, creating pastries and
cakes for the Fiorentina Pastry Boutique at Grand Hyatt Tokyo
and desserts for the hotel’s restaurants. Prior to joining Grand
Hyatt Tokyo, Chef Hirai spent two years in France working and
studying at such famous patisseries and restaurants as Hotel de
Warwick, Patisserie Stephane Secco, Boulangerie le Moulin de
70 Pastry & Baking
North America
la Vierge and Boulangerie Phillippe Martin. Chef Hirai is a
1995-graduate of Japan’s Tsuji Cooking Academy.
The jury also gave special awards for Best Praline, Best
Chocolate Dessert, and Best Chocolate Pastry.
One of these recipients was Fabian Sänger from Switzerland
who won the Best Chocolate Dessert with his creation
Sänger explains “this dessert is set up to stimulate all of the
human senses, being hot, cold, breezy, crispy, fruity and spicy
at the same time.” The dessert is composed of a tepid ginger
walnut brownies with pear kumquat compote, a pear sorbet
and finally a Madagascar mousse with hazelnut cream and a
crunchy coffee and pailleté feuilletine bottom, with Williams
sugar crust praliné.
Taking second place overall was Lionel Clement fromUnited
States and in third place Michaela Karg from Germany.
Clement, a graduate of the professional school Les Sorbets
in Noirmoutier Island, France, spent five years at Lenôtre in
Paris as a chocolate maker before arriving as head chocolatier
at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.
In preparing to represent the United States, Clement spent
the last year working four to six hours a day on his chocolate
skills and becoming one with his medium of choice. Knowing
his creations had to be “unbelievable” Lionel’s approach to
chocolate is admirable: “Respect chocolate as you would respect
people, being creative and original, feel it and play with it, with
all respect that is due.”
A stunning highlight for third place winner Michaela Karg
is her Designer Hat decorated with flawlessly crafted chocolate.
Le Chapeau Papillon
, this creation depicts a hat
surrounded by branches modeled in dark chocolate, twisting
delicately in different directions, growing out of cocoa fruits.
On the branches are intricately airbrushed butterflies. A wide
jagged ribbon decorated the border of the hat and Karg said
her “inspiration came right from the source – from the cocoa
fruit itself!”
Despite the pressure of time, limited space, a hall full of
boisterous spectators, and hundreds of journalists and camera
crews from all over the world, the finalists of the 2009 World
Chocolate Masters succeeded in performing at a new level of
craftsmanship and raised the bar of expectation for the next
event scheduled for 2011.
Chef Clement’s
Chef Karg’s Hat
Swiss Chef Fabian Sänger’s Dessert