Beautiful double for France at the last edition of Sirha Europain in Paris. A trio of French bakers have won the World Bakery Cup for the first time in 16 years. The team representing France won first place in the European selection for the World Pastry Cup.
After 16 years of purgatory, France finally won “the Olympic Games of bread”, namely the twelfth edition of the World Baking Championship…
The baguette country has regularly had its limelight stolen by other baguette virtuosos, namely the Asian countries. A shame for France, which, however, managed to obtain the inclusion of the baguette as a UNESCO intangible heritage in 2022…
But this year, a trio of blue, white and red bakers, Xavier Sacriste, Franck Fortier and Fabien Nolay, saved the honor during the competition organized in Paris during the 25th edition of Sirha Europain, leading bakery, pastry and snacks fair. Monday, January 22, 2024, obtained the highest place on the podium, ahead of South Korea and Japanrespectively second and third in the competition…
Know-how and collective spirit
Held every two years, the championship faces best bakery teams in the world. Ten teams, each incorporating three competitors, they compete for eight intense hours. It is about demonstrating a highly mastered know-how, but also a collective spirit, with the pieces created at the same time by the bakers forced to share their equipment in the same room. Four tests punctuate the competition: baguettes and breads from around the world, pastries, bakery catering and artistic pieces.
The last one also the artistic pieceis obviously the most spectacular, the participants’ masterpiece… And to shine, Xavier Sacriste, responsible for its production, was happily inspired by sports news, that is, the Paris Olympics. The constraints imposed – namely reaching a height of 1m40 to 1m60 and integrating five different folders – gave rise to a sculpture representing a fencerwhose discipline is naturally one of those scheduled in the French capital.
The three winners, who trained before the competition for a year and a half, each supported by a coach, do not necessarily have a classic baker’s background.
Originally from Val-d’Oise, Xavier Sacriste therefore, he never got into trouble in this French grocery store… At 36 years old, on the other hand, he put his talent serving the best restaurantswhere we expect a good dish to be accompanied by impeccable bread.
With the BEP and the professional bachelor’s degree in baking, complemented by training in pastry, he progressed in the most international establishments. He worked like this London with chef Hélène Darroze, in the United States with Joël Robuchon then in Lausanne and Valence, for Anne-Sophie Pic.
Wanting to share his skills with the younger generation, he became a coach in 2018 at the Lyfe institute in Ecully, culinary arts and hospitality management school. If the bakery championship only allows him to compete once, he does not rule out coaching the future French team in the next edition.
In turn, the Mayennais Frank Fortier35 years old, who won the event “baguette and bread from all over the world”, also has an extraordinary itinerary. Having fallen into a sack of flour at a young age (her grandfather and two brothers are bakers), after obtaining her CAP in baking in 2006, she became involved, as Service companion, on a six-year journey through France ! Today, he transmits the skills of the trade to future bakers, within the Château flour mills (supplier of flour for the sector), based in Ernée (Mayenne). He also teaches workshops in Atelier M’Alice, training center of the Girardeau group dedicated to bakery teams and managers.
Finally, the Parisian Fabien Nolay is also a trainer, in turn Paris School of Bakery and Pastry.
A weakened sector
The announcement of the winners provoked very enthusiastic reactions from the public, who turned out in large numbers and sang the Marseillaise for the return of the trophy to French lands!
In addition to the pride shown by the winners and the great international visibility offered to the sector, the championship organizers placed this award in a difficult economic context. “This first place also allows us to encourage all sector weakened by the rise in energy and raw materials prices, the difficulty in recruiting, the drop in purchasing power“, they highlighted in a press release.
Good news rarely arrives alone, but France has nevertheless managed to boast of a another title of glory during this latest edition of Sirha Europain, the first place in the European selection for the World Pastry Cup.
Both representing France, Haruka Atsuji and Jérémy Massing won the latter, respectively, in the chocolate and sugar categories.
To seduce the senses of jury made up of restaurant chefsHaruka Atsuji and Jérémy Massing, as well as the other twelve chef candidates, had 5 and a half hours to complete a impressive list of sweets. On the program: three frozen desserts with fruit purees from the Capfruit brand, three pastries with Elle & Vire dairy products, eight desserts from the Valrhona restaurant, two artistic pieces (one in sugar and the other in chocolate) and, finally, a buffet incorporating all of these creations!
A Japanese woman in Paris
Haruka Atsuji trained in pastry making in Japan. Awarded twice for Pascal Caffet Trophyshe catches the attention ofAlain Ducasse, which has supported the opening of seven Japanese stores since 2018. Since 2021, she is production manager at Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse, in Paris.
For his part, Jérémy Massing is a… mathematician overcome by the sin of gluttony. Although his initial training led him to follow in Euclid’s footsteps, he preferred not to count… calories, much to our happiness (or misfortune).
An amateur macaron competition in which he stands out reveals his true vocation: he will be a pastry chef. After learning from the Best worker in France Franck Fressonhe works in the biggest hotels (The Prince of Wales, the Ritz Paris…). After apprenticing as a BM Pastry Chef at the Ducass schooland from Meudon in 2020, he became assistant trainer at École Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie. He had already won the title of World runner-up at Sirha Lyon 2023.
See you in Lyon in 2025
During this last competition of 2024, Italy and the United Kingdom came second and third behind France of the selection that pitted 7 European countries.
The three teams will face each other for World Pastry Cup Grand Final, 24th and 25th January 2025, during the next Sirha Show in Lyon.
Featured photos: © Sirha Europain, Paris