The 6th Anchor Food Professionals Pastry Challenge was held on Tuesday, featuring a total of nine teams from the restaurants of integrated resorts.
Organized by Anchor Food Professionals, the theme this year was “Strawberry Rhapsody.”
Each team had to complete two entremets with weight of 1 to 1.2kg in three hours, using Anchor Extra Whip Whipping Cream and other Anchor dairy products as main ingredients.
The teams competed for the top three best awards and the ‘Angliss Excellence Award,’ through demonstrations of creativity, technical skills and teamwork.
Jean-François Arnaud, one of the judges, who is an international consultant in Pastry & Bakery and hails from France, admitted that he was dissatisfied with the overall outcome of the pastries, citing too much use of food coloring.
Arnaud warned that pastry chefs nowadays should be cautious of creating “sophisticated and complicated” cakes that would lose their natural flavors.
“[The theme] is supposed to be quite common and easy but I would say I’m a bit disappointed. I was expecting a more fresh strawberry taste. It was not really strawberry and it was covered by other flavors,” he remarked.
“From the decorations of the cake, we need to be careful. Colorful cakes attract us. […] It’s a trend but we need to think about this,” Arnaud added.
The expert noted that this remains a challenge in the pastry industry, as consumers are more attracted to colorful and vibrant cakes, which he supposed would also attract social media users.
However, he warned the participants who work in the Food & Beverage departments of five-star hotels, need to find balance in their work and mostly focus on keeping their ingredients natural.
“It was similar to 10 or 20 years ago. If a cake does not look appetizing we don’t buy it. But because of this [social media] trend, one will want to take pictures of a cake and post it. We are in this moment, [but] we need to find a way not to use too much food coloring and sugar,” Arnaud suggested.
Sam Wai Ian and Kuok Chi In of Studio City were crowned champions out of the nine competing teams with their winning cake “Feast.”
Arnaud described their winning piece as “balanced, light and well done.”
Gordon Ma, the Associate Foodservice director of Anchor Food Professionals noted that Arnaud’s remarks are constructive criticism for pastry professionals who should be continually seeking to improve their pastries for restaurants in five-star hotels.
Although he also admitted that it remains a challenge to keep both the exterior and interior of pastries faultless, Ma stressed that competitions such as this would raise the standards of the region’s baking and pastry production.
Ma remarked that the competition aims to be a platform for pastry professionals in Macau to advance their creativity and improve their production quality.
“The most important thing for improving and advancing their skills is not using too much food coloring, but going back to find the true flavor of what the main ingredients are,” Ma told the Times.
Ma also stressed that in comparison to previous editions of the competition, he has seen steady improvements in the participants’ cooperation and discipline, as well as their skills set.
Although the challenge required contestants to conduct their work within three hours, Ma is satisfied with the pastry professionals’ work.
I can see that they have trained a lot and have more discipline. The improvement is there and it can help them for daily work as well,” he said.
“Due to high pressure from work, there is not much time to work on the masterpiece. This is just why we give them this platform to let them showcase themselves other than just only fulfilling their job requirements,” Ma added.
The silver and bronze awards were given to teams from Galaxy Macau and Wynn Macau respectively, while the ‘Angliss Excellence Award’ was awarded to the team representing Conrad Macao.