This past September was a typical “on the road” month for me. I had the opportunity to revisit two of the most unique and interesting cities in the country: New York City and Las Vegas.
In New York, I attended the first StarChefs.com International Pastry Competition, which was presented by PreGel. Our team worked diligently with the StarChefs.com organization in order to create an innovative culinary event, distinct in its nature and purpose. Twenty select international and U.S. pastry chefs competed over three days, preparing elements critical to the execution of a well-balanced dessert menu. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the level of talent and artistic creativity that was displayed. I believe that despite some inevitable minor “first time” issues, the competition was an extraordinary success and would like to thank everyone involved in the planning and execution – StarChefs.com, the high-caliber judges (Jacques Torres, Albert Adria, Johnny Iuzzini, Elizabeth Faulkner, Jeffrey Steingarten and Frederic Monti, to name a few), the competitors and the Congress attendees. A “bravo” to the winner, Ron Paprocki from the Gordon Ramsay at the London, for his outstanding performance and an open invitation to become part of one of the many pastry initiatives PreGel AMERICA is promoting throughout the country.
In Las Vegas, we had a booth at the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), which hosted the U.S. Selections for Barry Callebaut’s World Chocolate Masters as well as the Bread Masters. There I found another inspiring and exhilarating showcase of passion and professional skills, matched only by the dancing moves on top of a club table by one of our own assistant pastry chefs – a little fun is always needed on these long trips, and it is Vegas…
Having witnessed these competitions, it is on a global scale I believe that they promote and encourage great performances, and consequently, new ideas and concepts. There is no doubt that our industry needs constant innovation and evolution. As a company, we have to keep promoting cooperative competition because it serves as a mechanism for growth for the industry.
Competitiveness is an innate biological trait. It is crucial, I believe, to nourish this urge in order to gain an internal sense of pride that allows you the perspective to evaluate or re-evaluate your business, your life and yourself.
Let’s not be ashamed of our weaknesses (I would personally need the whole column of the next issue to begin to list mine), but instead triumph in our need to strengthen ourselves by competing and learning from one another. I believe the outcome would be beneficial to all of us.
It is with this thought that I am starting to consider a PreGel Gelato Competition in the coming years. I would love to see our customers and friends come up with unique recipes and new techniques, culminating in a final competition at our facility that would bring greater visibility and raise the bar for gelato in the country.
On this, I ask that you share your comments and ideas, and I will keep you updated on the progress of this idea.
President and CEO