AUI Corporate Pastry Chef Amanda Haba trained for months to compete at the 2011 National Pastry Team Championship, and on July 9th all her preparations paid off. Chef Haba earned the “Best Sugar Showpiece” award while competing on Team Gallego, which took the silver medal overall. Amanda's teammates on Team Gallego were former AUI assistant pastry chef Courtney Goldian (currently the Corporate Pastry Chef at Founding Farmers Restaurant in Washington, D.C.) and Executive Pastry Chef Naomi Gallego (Team Captain) of the Fairmont Pittsburgh; the team was coached by Chef Bill Foltz of L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort.
This years competition theme was “Your Favorite Book”, Team Gallego chose Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as their inspiration. The sugar showpiece created by Chef Haba was inspired by the mad hatter’s tea-party, Chef Gallego’s chocolate showpiece was inspired by the Queen of Hearts, and Chef Goldian’s bonbons, desserts and entremets were inspired by multiple chapters from the book.
We followed-up with Chef Haba a couple days after the competition to get her thoughts on the experience. She said, “It was amazing to work with Bill and the ladies and grow in our craft together. The entire experience was really great, we developed an awesome relationship.” She also gave us her thoughts on the competition, “I respect the past competitors even more now that I know what they went through to prepare and compete. It’s exhausting but, I’m looking forward to the possibility of future competitions.”
The National Pastry Championship was held at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix, Arizona from July 8th-9th, 2011. Each team is given a total of 13 hours over two days to complete a lengthy list of required elements including a sugar showpiece, chocolate showpiece, bonbons, entremets, petits gateux, and plated desserts. A panel of judges comprised of industry leaders examines each group on their artistry and technical merit, work ethic and hygiene, and degustation. At this years competition there were four teams that competed to earn the title of Team USA and the honor to compete at the World Pastry Competition in 2012. Awards are given to the team with the overall best competition performance as well as the following categories: