When it came to artistic bread design, Team USA candidates all rose to the occasion in a recent and intensive Coupe du Monde preparation event held at General Mills headquarters in Minneapolis.
Finalists Jacob Baggenstos of Bakery Nouveau of Seattle, Olivier Saintemarie of Chefs de France in Epcot Center/Orlando, Fla., and Robert Nieto of Jackson Family Wines in Santa Rosa, Calif., measured, kneaded, shaped, baked and designed for hours in the Bread Bakers Guild of America Team USA 2016 selection event held at General Mills Feb. 27-28.
Baggenstos was named the winner of the Artistic Piece event and will represent the Bread Bakers Guild of America (BBGA) and build the Artistic Piece for Team USA in the 2016 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie in Paris, an international event that recognizes the world’s best artisan bakers and bread quality. Teams of three from around the world come to compete in three categories: baguette, specialty and ethnic breads; viennoiserie; artistic design and savory selection.
“General Mills has the perfect environment and facility for hosting this amazing event. It’s large, quiet, well-equipped and centrally located,” said Bill Weekley, a Sr. Scientist with General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “We were honored to host these finalists in such an action-packed event, and we look forward to the naming of Team USA for the 2016 Coupe Du Monde. Our culinary team truly enjoyed being part of this event as well.”
The contestants were asked to create a bread sculpture based on a “Mill City” theme to reflect Minneapolis’ flour milling tradition and also incorporate General Mills’ mill wheel logo. In addition, the candidates used a minimum of five different types of flour to craft their pieces, including at least 25 percent fermented bread dough. Everything within each sculpture was required to be edible. Each contestant submitted a book with the formulas for each type of bread dough used in the sculpture as well as an explanation of how the sculpture fit the contest’s Mill City theme.
Candidates were given one hour of prep time and one hour of baking time on Friday, followed by a 6:30 a.m. start time, eight hours of competition time and one hour of clean-up the next day. The judges included Ciril Hitz of Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, Harry Peemoeller of Johnson and Wales University in North Carolina, and Solveig Tofte of Minneapolis’ Sun Street Breads. John Kraus of Patisserie 46 also joined in to observe the final sculptures.
Flour, eggs, yeast, butter, salt and sugar were provided, and the scoring was based on originality, artistic quality, technical difficulty, use of required dough types, overall harmony, and attention to the finish and cleanliness of the piece.
“While the days were very long, the atmosphere was surprisingly calm until the last hour or two,” Weekley added. “You can’t help but be impressed and wowed by the contestants’ concentration, creativity and capabilities.”