Chefs get all sorts of attention in competitions, but bread bakers, fugetaboutit!
But I was recently in Las Vegas for a bread convention - yes, related to the new book I'm working on - and observed a bit of the Louis Lesaffre competition. In this stage, national teams from North and South America competed for two coveted places in the Coupe du Monde in Paris in 2012. USA made the winning spot as did the team from Peru. They will compete against 10 other national teams at the final competition. Background on the competition process is here.
Bread sculpture by Harry Peemoeller, instructor at Johnson and Wales, Charlotte, NC. Yes, this is all made of bread!
Mike Zakowski, The Baker (Bekjr), Sonoma, CA, with his baguettes, which are obviously central to this competition.
Pictures of Mike Zakowski's breads.
One of Mike's entries was a loaf with bolted whole wheat flour (part of the bran removed) mixed with white flour, flecked with cracked spelt that had been soaked in agave nectar for 12 hours. It was the best bread I had at the entire convention, though there were many great breads. I asked him where he got cracked spelt, since I had never seen it. He said he grinds it himself with a hand grinder. Although he works at Artisan Bakers in Sonoma, he sells his own bread at a farmers' market in Oakland.
I did take pictures of the beautiful viennoiserie made by Jeremey Gadouas, a baker from Bennison’s Bakery, Evanston, IL, but alas they were too blurry.
There was a lot of baking going on outside the competition. Here are a few of the rye breads made by Jeffrey Hamelman, the master baker at King Arthur Flour.
Hamelman's 40% rye, it had nuts and dates I think but I may be wrong.
Jeffrey Hamelman in a light moment by the deck oven.
Hamelman's 60% rye. The one barely viewed on left has sesame seeds. The scoring (cuts) on these loaves were beautiful.
- Samuel Fromartz