In addition to the highly publicized Bocuse d’Or contest, next month’s Sirha 2013 also brings the 13th Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, where 22 international teams of pastry chefs, including a group from the U.S., will vie for the profession’s most coveted prize, the World Pastry Cup.

The word “pastry” seems much too simple for the elaborate and incredibly lush spun sugar confections, sweet sculptures and perfect chocolate concoctions on display in this mouth-watering 14-minute behind-the-scenes video mapping the road to Lyon, where America’s team took first place in 2001 and aims to do so again in January.

The first-place team wins a trophy, the top three take home cash prizes and separate special prizes are awarded in several categories, but everyone stands to gain just from making it to the competition, said Team USA President Gilles Renusson. “Participating in the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie on behalf of Team USA has been a career booster for all previous participants,” he said. The team includes chefs Andy Chlebana, Christophe Feyt, Roy Pell and Stephen Durfee.

We spoke with Renusson, a Certified Master Pastry Chef and professor at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College, to learn more about how the competition works.

How was the U.S. team selected?
In the summer of 2011, we sent invitations to many participants and to all professionals with some competition experience, to apply for the national selection, which was held at Grand Rapids Community College, Secchia Institute of Culinary Education. Fifteen judges, pastry chefs and artists selected the four finalists who made the team. Please visit our website, www.pastryteamusa.com and the coupe du Monde site at www.cmpatisserie.com for more details.

What happens in Lyon? How does the contest work?
During the 10 hours, the participants must create one chocolate centerpiece, a sugar centerpiece, an ice carving centerpiece, a plated dessert for 12, a chocolate cake and an ice cream cake, too.

What are the biggest challenges and logistical issues?
Distances and costs. Since our team is composed of chefs from California, Nevada, Arizona and Illinois, every practice cost a lot in transportation and lodging. To be original, we have to create and invest heavily on new and unique tools. I am not a professional fund raiser and do not find enough time to “sell” our cause to enough potential supporters. Funding is always an issue. We manage with the generosity of the existing sponsors and careful spending.

How much practice is involved?
Not enough! We wish we could have been training for an entire year instead of the eight months since the team was selected.

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