This week, the world has seen a showcase of some of the best bakers at the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie – a.k.a. the World Cup of Baking. The international event is held every three years at Europain, a massive bakery, patisserie and catering convention in Paris. Artisan bakers – teams of three from 12 different countries – compete in small bakeries specially set up in the convention hall to see whose breads reign supreme when it comes to taste, appearance and production values. Bakers have 8 hours to complete a number of products in four categories: baguettes and specialty breads, viennoiserie (sweet pastries, like danishes), savory presentation and an artistic showpiece (not to be eaten, although edible) that represents their country in bread. Judging includes taste, production and presentation.
For years, France dominated the competition, but as expectations for artisan bread production raised all over the world, so the the quality of other teams’ products. Team USA won in 1999 and 2005. Team Japan won in 2002. This year, however, France came in first and took home the title. There is a lot of pride in winning back the title, especially as the competition is held in France. France’s showpiece included a bread model of woman, fashionably dressed in a nod to haue couture and France’s fashion scene.