You may think of Vung Tau only for its beaches, roads and nightlife. But for me this former war-time RnR spot is the place where the Vietnamese Pastry Cup happens every two years, at the Pacific Pastry Academy.
This may be hard to believe, but it does exist. In fact this is the fifth time it’s happened, and it’s our second Word article on the subject.
The Vietnam Pastry Cup was inaugurated 10 years ago by the famous French chef Bruno Pastorelli in order to promote Vietnamese culinary arts and send the most talented to France to train and compete in the Mondial Des Arts Sucrés — sort of like the World Cup of pastry. All contestants must be Vietnamese, and each two-person team must have a male and female member, so both genders have an equal chance to show off their talents.
We arrived late morning at the Pastry Academy, inside an all-white room always kept at 16°C, contestants running back and forth preparing their products. As for the spectators, everyone was competing to take pictures of their home team, while the film crew and I pushed our way through to get the best shots.
Coming back from lunch, the atmosphere was getting tense. There wasn’t much talking or taking pictures. It was almost time for the first tasting: chocolate bonbons.
Hours went by and the brutal summer heat penetrated the white room. It was definitely not 16°C in here anymore. The day got longer. We started to feel the fatigue.
Hung from Team Marriot Hanoi was putting one of his sugar bubbles onto the giant green sugar wreath he made, but when he took his eyes off of it, it started to fall off. Luckily, he was warned and he saved the sugar bubble from falling, but not from breaking. The heat made completing the shaped sugar pieces into a challenge.
Despite the ferocity of the long day, all the teams finished in time. The sun came down and it was time to reveal the winner. Caravelle Saigon won first prize with their great overall performance and an impressive sea-inspired sugar piece, which combined multiple textures and shapes made of sugar.
The Winners’ Circle
— The Caravelle Saigon team held the winners’ cup. Ms. Tran Thi Thuy Van and Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Dung will represent Vietnam at the 5th edition of the Mondial Des Arts Sucrés in Paris in February 2016.
— 2nd Prize went to Marriot Hanoi. The team members won an all-inclusive training seminar in Hong Kong, under the tuition of Master Chef Jeffrey Koo, to be sponsored by Capfruit in March 2016.
— 3rd Prize went to Salinda Phu Quoc. They will have the opportunity to join an all-inclusive training programme at the French Culinary School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, under the tuition of a Master Pastry Chef — to be sponsored by Fonterra in October 2015.
— 4th Prize went to Sheraton Nha Trang. They won a pastry book sponsored by Valrhona chocolate.