Nicolas Bouhelier, junior pastry sous chef at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, has won the inaugural UK Pastry Open contest.
The competition, which took place last Saturday (1 October), was held in preparation for the next Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, the biennial pastry world cup held in Lyon in 2013.
The UK Pastry Open saw seven pastry chefs compete for the title in a six-and-a-half-hour cook off held in the kitchens of Hammersmith College in London. The chefs were asked to produce a sugar or chocolate display piece each as well as a chocolate dessert or cake incorporating fruit.
Bouhelier was named the overall winner of the competition for his chocolate display piece and dessert and also picked up the prize for the best tasting dessert showcasing flavours of autumnal British produce.
Javier Mercado, pastry lecturer at Westminster College in London, won the award for the best display for his sugar sculpture, while Alistair Birt, pâtissier at William Curley Chocolate, won a special award for best rising talent.
Benoir Blin, executive pastry chef at Le Manoir, chair of the judges and organiser of the event, told Caterer and Hotelkeeper the overall standard of the competition had been good.
"Some of the chefs showed real potential," he said. "It's also great to see young British chefs like Alistair Birt taking part as the UK pastry industry is largely dominated by foreign chefs, mainly from France and Asia."
The judging panel included Sara Jayne Stanes, director of the Academy of Culinary Arts; Kerstin Kühn, restaurant editor at Caterer and Hotelkeeper; James Petrie, group executive pastry chef of the Fat Duck; and Laurent Couchaux, principal chocolatier at Rococo.
The display panel included Martin Chiffers, executive pastry chef at the Savoy hotel; Nick Patterson, executive pastry chef at Claridge's; Graham Hornigold, executive pastry chef at Hakkasan Group; and Denis Drame, executive pastry chef at Penny Hill Park Hotel.
Blin, president of team UK for the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, announced he was stepping down from his role, with Chiffers replacing him.
"Under new rules set by the competition, the team president and captain of a country have to hold a passport to that country and as I am French, I am stepping down from the role," he explained.
"I am sure Martin will be a great president and he will soon announce the line-up of the new UK team competing at the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie's European final in Paris next March."
By Kerstin Kühn
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