Tough was the word chef Olivier Saintemarie used to describe Team USA’s spirited performance in the coveted Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, which celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Sirha 2019 world foodservice show in Lyon, France. Chef Nicolas Chevrieux expressed great enthusiasm for competing in such a prestigious event that honored nature’s place in the food sector, including a first-ever twist in the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie: the requirement of a 100% vegan dessert.

“Vegan pastry is a very big challenge for pastry professionals. Without eggs, cream or butter, a traditional French pastry is not the same,” said Marie-Odile Fondeur, general director for Sirha, in an exclusive interview at the show with bake. “It could be a very interesting challenge.”

True to her words, Team USA crafted a stunning vegan dessert on their way to a fourth-place finish overall in the contest, which was created in 1989 by acclaimed pastry chef Gabriel Paillasson. Team USA’s Victor Dagatan won the Sculpted Ice Prize.

Composed of three specialists for chocolate, sugar and ice sculpture, 21 teams competed during 10 hours in a series of imposed tests. A jury composed of top international figures judged their technical skills, know-how and creativity.

For the first time ever, Malaysia won the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie in a surprise finish led by Wei Loon Tan (sugar specialist), Otto Tay (chocolate specialist) and Ming Ai Loi (ice specialist). Malaysia stood out among the other competitors under the watchful eye of Paillasson (president and founder of the contest), Philippe Rigollot (president of the International Committee), Etienne Leroy (president of the jury) and Gilles Renusson (president of honour).

“It is the first time Malaysia is on the podium and it’s a new proof that in life when you are a good worker and you have a good professor, you get that kind of result,” Paillasson said. “The presentation work was great, and they followed the rules. It is important to me that the whole pastry world evolves, and all teams have increased their level.”

The top five countries (in order) were Malaysia, Japan, Italy, the US and the United Kingdom. Malaysia also obtained the best marks in the Tasting and was presented with the prize offered by the President of the French Republic.

Key foodservice trends

Image courtesy of Julien Bouvier Studio

The 19th Sirha, held Jan. 26-30, featured innovative exhibits and 25 contests representing all trades (cheese specialists, butchers, bakers, pastry chefs, baristas and more). The contests included the finals of the Bocuse d’Or, in which Denmark won the prestigious trophy considered as the grail, the ultimate token of recognition for chefs all around the planet.

Sirha boasted an additional seventh hall this year to accommodate several thousand exhibitors and brands covering 12 sectors. This means the 225,000 professionals visiting from across the globe enjoyed an even broader offering.

Marie-Odile Fondeur, managing director of Sirha, says the most prestigious players in pastry and gastronomy today and tomorrow come to meet and exchange at the largest gathering of chefs on the planet. Food Service Vision and Sirha carried out a large-scale, multi-source survey to capture the major current and short-term influences in foodservice. There are seven main influences that concern four categories of trends:

Awareness (Flexitarism and Responsibility)
Wellbeing (Naturally good)
Territoriality (Locavorism and Globalisation)
Augmented Experience (Convenience and Emotions)

These precursory signs already affect all sectors of catering and foodservice and will become increasingly important within the next three years.

Global insights

Image courtesy of Julien Bouvier Studio

Here are some excerpts from bake’s interview with Fondeur:

What are the emerging trends for this edition of Sirha?

Fondeur: We have a network of events and global partners and continually exchange with players in the foodservice industry. This puts us in a unique and privileged position. Thanks to this intimacy with the many different facets of the market, we can spot the emerging influences well in advance. For this edition we have identified and reviewed seven influences that will be represented throughout our demonstration sections. Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact they have on our environment but also of what’s good for their health. They also want to find establishments that offer actual emotional experiences. We have carried out some long-term projections in order to anticipate consumers’ future behavior even further.

What are two or three of the most impactful trends influencing food businesses today?

Fondeur: People feel responsible for what they eat. New behaviors, green attitudes. We understand organic foods, fresh foods, seasonal. We have two main trends. The first is flexitarism. People want to eat less meat but very good high-quality meat. Flexitarists are people between completely vegan and completely omnivore. Local is a trend. People want to eat local product. In France, the area for local product could be 50 kilometers. In the United States it could be 500 kilometers. It’s huge. Digital is also very important because people want to buy with the phone, internet, delivered at home. Home delivery is coming more and more.

How has Sirha been so successful in attracting more international visitors?

Fondeur: Hard work and strong promotion. I travel a lot in many countries. Partnerships with Business France. We have huge exhibitor offerings: 140,000 square meters, and Sirha is the very place where trends are emerging, It’s a source of inspiration. Chefs are very happy to come here and meet together with their colleagues. The concept is unique: interactive business. We have 25 competitions. All these events bring many people and partners. It’s the place to be for foodservice.

What are some new features at Sirha 2019 that are key highlights of this year’s event?

Fondeur: With Foodservice Vision, we determined seven influences that are emerging trends for years to come. And to find them, we analyzed the new products of the exhibitors. We have 1,083 new products: food, tableware, food and equipment for bakery and pastry. We set up three new concepts of restaurants, created in partnership with Institut Paul Bocuse and inspired by the Food Service Vision 7 influences. Sirha visitors who eat at these ephemeral eateries experience the latest trends in the sector and discover the novelties in table ware, dining room design and arrangement: sources of inspiration for their own establishments.

Reaching new heights

The United States team works to put the finishing touches on their 100% vegan dessert.

Sirha, the major event for foodservice worldwide, closed its doors after five days packed with fruitful encounters, exchanges and innovations, but also rich in emotions. The trade fair once again reported record-breaking attendance with 225,031 professional visitors (up 8% from 2017), including 30,581 international visitors.

The innovations revealed by Sirha and its exhibitors play an essential driving role by enabling companies in the foodservice industry to anticipate demand.

Valrhona revealed the rare flavor of Tulakalum 75% Pure Origin Chocolate from Belize, a chocolate couverture dedicated to the artisans of taste. Maya Mountain Cacao is a pioneer in defending premium quality cocoa in Belize as part of an ethical vision, both environmentally and socially. Signed for 10 years, the partnership with Maya Mountain Cacao is part of Valrhona’s corporate social responsibility program, “Live Long.”

On the show floor, exhibitors such as Bridor introduced innovative new products. Bridor unveiled the Breizh’n’Roll, inspired by the traditional kouign amann. Oven manufacturer MIWE was among those to feature new innovations for snacking consumers. Unifiller showcased the versatility and efficiency of modern depositing systems.

Solutions for artisan bread bakers were abundant at Lesaffre, where top bakers like Déborah Ott (who won the 2018 World Master Baker title in gourmet baking for France) demonstrated techniques.

New from Barry Callebaut, Ruby chocolate is acclaimed by chefs and chocolatiers from around the world because it is made using the Ruby cocoa bean and delivers unique taste and pairing opportunities.

Demarle featured many unique applications for Flexipan, which revolutionized the world of baking and pastry making. Today, Flexipan is the reference for flexible molds and is one of the best-selling pieces of equipment for baking professionals.

Unique presentations in pastry grab the attention of consumers and drive higher sales. Dawn Foods offered creative ideas for seasonal pastries and showcased a traditional American bakery serving fresh donuts.

Exhibitors were on the rise — 3,770 exhibitors and brands, including 28% internationals — and were highly satisfied with the attendance and quality of the visitors, many of whom were new French and international prospects, as well as executive decision makers and purchasers. The exhibition hall increased by 10,000 square meters for the occasion (140,000 square meters in total).