In attendance was, Valrhona luxury chocolate, Norohy organic vanilla, Les vergers Boiron premium fruit purées, Corsiglia, producer of the finest marrons glacés, Paysan Breton, an authentic cooperative dairy company, Moulins Viron, a traditional and innovative family flour mill, and Zealous, creators and producers of premium quality food silicone and plastic molds.
The competition finale was held on the 16th of November 2021 at the prestigious SLS Dubai Hotel, located in the Downtown district, with a spectacular view of Burj Khalifa, as well as Dubai Creek.
The distributor and collaborating brands launched this exceptional challenge back in September 2021 and shortlisted 20 chefs from some of the UAE’s most reputable hotels and restaurants to compete and present their own version of the best and most beautiful Festive Yule Log and Galette des Rois. Participants crafted their unique creations using a selection of carefully handpicked premium ingredients that were given in a mystery basket.
Pooja Bhatt, Pastry & Bakery Category Manager at Chef Middle East said: “This event pays tribute to all the heroes in the Pastry kitchens. As their supplier, we witness every day the hard work, passion, and commitment they give to their profession, and giving them a platform to express their creativity and showcase their talent is just the right thing to do for us. We want this event to become a yearly appointment and a true part of Chef Middle East’s identity. Hosting the ‘Fall into Christmas Challenge 2021’ at the SLS Dubai Hotel’s ballroom on the 73rd floor with a breath-taking view of Dubai was unanimously beautiful. More importantly, the culinary team – headed by both Pierre Chambon, Executive Pastry Chef, and Claudio Cardoso, Executive Chef – welcomed our team in the most exceptional way and contributed to the success of the event.”
Chef Middle East aimed at generating some buzz amongst the local hospitality industry by pushing the boundaries with a panel of internationally renowned chefs, including Francois Daubinet, Artist and Executive Pastry Chef, Nicolas Lambert, Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2018, and David Briand, Valrhona Pastry Trainer and winner of the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France award.
“I was quite amazed to see the deep involvement of each candidate, the time, efforts, and energy they put into this challenge. The three winners crafted very interesting creations. The balance between the visual creations and the overall taste was perfectly executed and it was a pleasure tasting those desserts. My most beautiful memory from this collaboration is the teamwork with Chef Middle East and being part of this initiative. I have been welcomed very warmly and spent a rich week in terms of sharing experiences. This type of competitions positions Chef Middle East way ahead from other market leaders and I am particularly appreciative of how this competition challenged the participants, yet remained healthy.” said Daubinet.
“Being part of this initiative leaves me with fantastic memories – it was all in good spirit with a high quality of exchanges and discussions with my jury colleague as well as the participants and organizers. The core ambition of this event was to showcase the talent of local chefs and I find this admirable. The level of support and interest that Chef Middle East places in its customers is incredible, and the community is grateful and appreciative of that. This pays tribute to the industry’s flourishment not just locally but also regionally and worldwide.” commented Lambert.
Abel Vieilleville, Cluster Pastry Chef at Address Hotels took the First Place Winner title for his splendid creations “Sahara” yule log and “Fleur de Marrons” galette des rois, and won a Pastry Tour Trip to France.
Vielleville commented: “The inspiration comes with a theme-relevant color and design, a western celebration with a middle eastern-inspired look and feel. The ingredients were picked methodically within the mystery basket, while some other ingredients were added to pair and spice up the confection. What is important to highlight is that nothing can be done without the right ingredients, and this is where Chef Middle East excels, bringing the best to provide us with the finest ingredients.”
The second place was awarded to Hugo Sipp, Head Pastry at Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi for his “Snow Chess-nut” yule log and “Noisette des Rois” galette, while the third place went to Jean-Francois Le Luherne, Pastry Chef at Choix Patisserie and Pierre’s Bistro by Pierre Gagnaire, for his creations “Clementine” yule log and “Myriade” galette des rois.
Hugo Sipp explained about his creations: “the galette was a traditional one in line with the highest French standards. The Yule log features chestnuts, vanilla, blood orange, and Clementine – the ingredients we got to use were incredible, specially Corsiglia, Les Vergers Boiron, and Norohy vanilla. They definitely contributed to our creations’ success.”
An Artistic Crush Award was bestowed to Christopher Lambert, DESIGNATION, for his beautiful creations “The Corsican Gift Box” and “King’s Cake Hazelnut – Almond”.
Guests indulged in an immersive culinary journey with a special afternoon tea menu designed by Francois Daubinet, drawing inspiration from the mystery basket ingredients, an incredibly delicate taste of pastry innovations with the highlight being the ‘Signature Daubinet Gnocchi’, a beautiful selection with artfully designed displays.
A premium beverage pairing created by Tauland Hyka from Chef Middle East accompanied the desserts selection for the perfect flavours’ blends. As for the savoury delicatessen, Chef Georges Chihane, Culinary Development Manager at Chef Middle East, crafted a distinctive menu with Festive Duck Corsican Clementine, Octopus Confit with Siracusa Lemon gel, and many more.
Florian Golhen, Area Sales Manager at Les vergers Boiron commented:
“This one-of-a-kind pastry competition in the region is a way to reinforce our engagement with pastry chefs around new flavours, trends, and vision. The presence of Nicolas Lambert and Francois Daubinet as judges, the support of Chef Middle East as a distributor and organizers, and the talent of the participants, demonstrate that the pastry industry has reached a new level and consumers are ready to explore new flavours and creations. Les Vergers Boiron has launched in 2021 the Coconut Cream and 3 PGI (protected geographical indication) citrus fruit puree – Lemon from Siracusa, Blood orange from Sicilia, and Clementine from Corsica – allowing to highlight terroir and giving chefs a beautiful story to share with their clients through their creations.
Guillaume Lafaix, IMEA Business Unit Manager at Valrhona said: “We are glad to be part of such a great event organized by Chef Middle East that gathers all Chefs from the UAE, promotes innovation and connection in a fun and competitive approach. It allows all of us to witness best practices, unique creations, and a will to share with each other. Gastronomy has a great future ahead of us as I am witnessing so many talents for this year’s competition. Valrhona Selection is proud to be on the side of the handcraft makers and the pastry of tomorrow – we are thrilled to see what 2022 has in store for the region.”
‘Fall into Christmas Challenge 2021’ allowed participants and guests to experience a beautiful culinary journey to see, feel and taste the crème de la crème ingredients with the artfully created festive desserts and delightful afternoon tea menu.
Chef Middle East is proud to share the passion for culinary art through such competitions, with the will to keep on engaging with industry professionals with more of these events in the future to further elevate the craftsmanship and creativity within the Pastry & Bakery category.