The room was abuzz with excitement when I arrived at Makati Shangri-La that Monday morning, The chefs behind the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines were in high spirits, not minding the fact that they were up since 11pm the night before to prepare for the final mock-up of their entry to the World Pastry Cup or Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie that happened on January 25 in Lyon, France.
Yes, our country was one of the 21 teams from all over the world to compete at the largest, most prestigious event in the pastry universe. These teams were chosen after more than fifty national selection rounds and four continental selection rounds in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. As Chef Buddy Trinidad, President of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines (PAP), described, “the World Pastry Cup is like the Miss Universe beauty pageant. It is the whole world competing. Everyone’s eyes will be on us.”
“This dream to join the competition started in 2006. As you know, sometimes dreams don’t come true, but this is a big one that came true for us. To this day we still can’t believe that it’s here, that it is upon us. We thank the Lord for giving us these three talented men to represent us at the competition,” Trinidad added.
The three talented men are Rizalino Mañas, Bryan Dimayuga and Vicente Cahatol, all pastry chefs from Makati Shangri-La.
Each team was given 10 hours to present three chocolate desserts, three frozen fruit desserts, twelve identical plated desserts, one sugar showpiece, one chocolate showpiece, one sculpted ice showpiece, and the newest addition to the competition – a chocolate carving sculpted from a whole block of Valrhona.
Our Philippine Team’s theme was “Hunting” and each element in the jaw-droppingly magnificent design represented the richness of our country. The Philippine spotted deer seemed almost real and I swear it looked straight at me when I was taking its photo. The details on the female Aeta – her short curly hair, super fine bow and arrow – were spot on.
Rizalino Mañas, nicknamed Potpot, created the sugar showcase in the form of nature – green leaves and a giant red flower that I could not stop staring at. It was mesmerizing. His plated dessert was a coconut, pineapple and pili nut medley served in a chocolate shell and a side of pistachio micro sponge. I was one of the very lucky few who was able to taste this creation and I immediately declared it a winner after my first spoonful.
For the entremets, Bryan Dimayuga, who also created the female aeta chocolate showpiece, used our very own kapeng barako and added a touch of lemon to give it some kick. It gave me a pleasant surprise.
Vicente Cahatol, born from a family of carvers from Paete, did an amazing job turning the block of Valrhona into a bayawak. It was not displayed at the final rehearsal that day at Makati Shangri-La, but Vic also magically carved two blocks of ice into a male aeta carrying a deer over his shoulders. He only had two hours to finish this at the competition.
“Their jobs are no easy task. We have to give these men credit because it is our first time, and the first time is never easy. There are a lot of things we have to adjust to when we get there. It’s a huge team effort,” said Peachy Juban, one of their very dedicated mentors who also flew to Lyon to cheer them on and give them unconditional support alongside Buddy Trinidad, James Antolin, Dan Basilio, Penk Ching, Jackie Ang-Po and Miko Aspiras of the PAP.
“Our dream is to see the Philippine flag raised in Lyon. We didn’t expect it would happen so soon,” Juban shared modestly.
I personally thought it was about time. After witnessing (AND tasting) their undeniably exemplary talents that Monday morning, I confidently say the Philippines is ready to make history.
“The team spent sleepless nights perfecting everything. It is hard work, but we are here to support each other,” said Miko Aspiras. “We are doing this for our country,” Penk Ching proudly declared.
Even though they did not bring home the medal, Team Philippines is already a champion to all of us.
Team Philippines ranked 12th out of 21 participants and took home the Best Ice Sculpture Award.
WOOHOO!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS, YOU GUYS!!!
You bring our country so much pride!