You’ve heard of the FIFA World Cup, but do you know that there’s also a Pastry World Cup?
That’s right. Every two years since 1989, pastry chefs from all over the world compete to be the grand champions of the Pastry World Cup (also known as Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie).
Malaysia has been actively competing in it since 2009, with our latest representatives competing in the finals on January 21, 2023.
A little background
The Pastry World Cup is an international event that gathers the crème de la crème in pastry making. Held in Lyon, France, the competition tests the capabilities of chefs in various aspects—mainly their abilities in product sourcing, natural tastes, and precise gestures (techniques).
Similar to the football championships, the Pastry World Cup is also a team sport. Each country’s representative boasts a team of four chefs with different specialties. There’s the team captain, the ice cream specialist, the sugar expert, and the chocolate maker.
Together, they join forces to take on the different challenges in their respective fields. The goal? To produce visionary desserts that create a pastry revolution worldwide.
Contestants are selected in different stages, first nationals then continentals, before the final competition in Lyon.
Once national representatives are chosen, there are four continental selection events in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe respectively. A win in these continental rounds serves as a ticket to France where top pastry chefs from over eight countries will be gathered.
During the grand finale, qualified teams are given two days to create confectionary masterpieces. They’ll work tirelessly to make a variety of desserts in the short ten hours given, which will be judged by a panel of experienced chefs.
The winners will walk away with a trophy, gold medals, cash prizes, and bragging rights.
Our contestants are…
This year, four talents represented Malaysia to compete in the Pastry World Cup 2023—Yap Kean Chuan (team coach), Mun Pui Teng (team captain and sugar expert), Charles Lim (chocolate expert), and the youngest member Goh Jun Wei (ice carving expert).
Each of the team members has separate day jobs, with Yap as an executive pastry chef at FrieslandCampina Professional, Teng and Lim as pastry chefs at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia, and Goh as a pastry chef at Voila Patisserie.
With the guidance of Yap and his over 15 years of experience, the pastry chefs managed to win first place at the Asian Pastry Cup in Singapore last year. It was here that the Malaysian team was also awarded the well-deserved special prize for the Best Taste with their chocolate cake.
However, their busy schedules meant that training and trial runs for the competition could only be done after they were off the clock. The delay of the Asian Pastry Cup also meant there was lesser time to plan and prepare the menu for the grand finale in France.
“In a week, we had three rounds of trial runs, simulating the competition, which lasted 10 hours each time,” the team shared.
Qualifying teams are usually given six months to prep in advance, but contestants were only given two months this round. There are 17 confections to create from scratch and each serves as a demonstration of new techniques and interpretations of this year’s “climate change” theme.
“Naturally, we were slightly nervous knowing we had big shoes to fill, but we were mostly excited and proud to represent Malaysia at the international stage,” the team said. “It’s a definite confidence booster for us as we headed to the Pastry World Cup with the experience and wisdom from our predecessors.”
From the sounds of it, they were probably in touch with the Malaysian winners of the Pastry World Cup in 2019, which was our nation’s first win.
This comes as no surprise as Yap has mentioned his previous experience assisting them, and the pastry shop that Goh works at was started by two of the team members, Chef Otto Tay and Chef Loi Ming Ai.
It seemed as though our Malaysian 2023 team was all set and ready to head off to the finale, but they actually almost didn’t make it.
A hero swoops in
We found out that the team was having difficulties looking for sponsors before the finals in France. Yap explained that the World Pastry Cup was still an obscure event to many Malaysians as promotions of it locally are scarce.
“I have had to use money out of my own pocket,” he said. Luckily for them, Debic came to the rescue. A proud sponsor of the Pastry World Cup for the past 20 years, the professional dairy brand made for food service professionals launched in Malaysia just last year.
As a show of commitment to their support of talented and passionate food professionals, Debic decided to lend a hand.
“With Team Malaysia’s chefs winning the Asian Pastry Cup and qualifying for the Grand Finale, Debic is honoured to be able to sponsor the talented team who has their sights on bringing home another championship title for Malaysia,” said Ms. Ramjeet Kaur, the managing director of Dutch Lady Milk Industries Berhad (subsidiary brand of Debic).
Be prepared for anything
The pressure of any competition can get quite daunting, but it helps to have the right attitude and mindset when walking in.
Speaking candidly, the team had expressed both their proud and humble expectations for the championship.
“We’re sure everyone feels this way, but our main goal is just to do our best at the competition, not only for ourselves but for the country too,” the team shared with Vulcan Post prior to the finale.
“Getting here was no easy feat, and we would definitely like to keep the good record of the past Malaysian pastry teams, but we hope to perform our personal best at the Pastry World Cup this year.”
Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the team was beaten by Japan and five other countries for the top spot. Landing in sixth place, they may have not brought home any medals, but instead brought home more experiences and passion for the creation of innovative pastries.
“The Pastry World Cup is an extremely rigorous competition that tests not only our skills and creativity, but our physical and mental strength,” the team noted.
“But no matter the result of the competition, we’ll come out of this setting higher standards for ourselves, continue to learn and grow, and create more creative and delicious pastries every day,” they assured.
- Learn more about the Pastry World Cup here.
Featured Image Credit: (from left to right) Otto Tay (Pastry World Cup 2019 champion and Debic Ambassador), Charles Lim (chocolate candidate), Yap Kean Chuan (team coach), Ramjeet Kaur Virik, (Managing Director of Dutch Lady Milk Industries Berhad), Majid Zaman (Sales Director at Horeca & Bakery APAC and FrieslandCampina Professional), Mun Pui Teng (team captain and sugar candidate), Goh Jun Wei (ice candidate), and Loi Ming Ai (Pastry World Cup 2019 champion and Debic ambassador) at the send-off event for team Malaysia 2023 by Debic.