Page 41 - Pastry & Baking Magazine

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For these driven chefs, that’s simply part of the challenge,
as is the opportunity to explore and practice advanced
techniques. “I’m very familiar working with chocolate, but I
don’t have as much experience in sugar,” Alioto said. “I’d never
airbrushed before and it’s something I’ve really wanted to try.”
Five-time competitor Anthony Smith (The Cosmopolitan
Club, NYC) consulted a visual artist to determine how to
bring the most precise colorations to his piece. “A lot of times
to get the colors that you want, you have to mix, blend and
shade. It took six hours to do the airbrushing alone.”
Shirakawa noted that such experimentation and attention
to detail is an integral part of developing as a chef. As
previous winner and returning jury member Richard
Capizzi (Lincoln Restaurant, NYC) said, “It’s not only about
winning. It’s about seeing what you are capable of.”
The skills on display were as diverse as the variations on
the theme. Sarah Hooton (Central Market, Fort Worth, TX),
created a dense chocolate tree punctuated by an arresting
sugar flower of gold, orange and crimson. With flocks of
foliage and two butterflies in pink and purple, Hooton’s nod
to The Four Elements incorporated all the vivid colors of the
rainbow.
Smith chose Mother Nature as the anchor for his
spellbinding display. The feminine form cast in chocolate was
set upon a glassy sea of blue. Thin chocolate curls emanated
from her to suggest wind, adding an element of movement.
And in a nod to the Chinese New Year, Smith fashioned a
menacing orange dragon whose tail writhed about.
Alioto also gave a nod to the mythological goddess, albeit
with a self-proclaimed “hippie” vibe. A white face in profile
provided the focal point with flames of sugar emanating
skyward. Feathers evoked wind, a saffron flower with gold
ribbon denoted earth, and fish floated on sugar water.
Butterflies peppered the showpiece to further imbue the
flower child spirit.
The showpieces can be no more than 24 x 18” in width,
but the sky is the limit where height is concerned. For daring
competitors like Daniel Keadle (Grand Hyatt San Antonio,
TX), defying gravity seems part of the thrill. His abstract
structure depicted the fabled North Wind character with
intertwining wisps of white. A fiery saffron blossom glinted
in the “breeze,” and an ivory cake bedecked in blue waves
appeared suspended in air.
While the showpiece may be the dominant spectacle, the
cake is judged with equal – if not more – impetus. The entries
are appraised on taste, flavor profiles, texture, aroma, creativity
and originality. Their visual appeal is judged, not simply
by outward appearance but how well the cake maintains its
structure when sliced, whether the layers are equivalent, and if
they remain intact.
When it comes to judging, the cakes are evaluated by
some of the most discriminating palates in the business.
Artis Kalsons’ flourless
chocolate coconut
cream gateaux