(from left) Jory Downer, Jeffrey Yankellow and William Leaman celebrate their win.
Yankellow produced 30 specialty breads, including this oatmeal date bread.
Jory Downer pulls his teammates for a hug after they finished the eight-hour competition.
Bread Bakers Guild Baking Team USA did it again. Americans are again at the top of the baking world as champions of the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Cup of Baking), held every three years during Europain in Paris, France. Baking Team USA 2005 competed against 11 other teams in four different categories: baguette and specialty bread, sweet viennoiserie, artistic creation, and new to the competition this year, savory presentation. Working in 12-ft. by 12-ft. bakeries, each team had eight hours to complete the required number of products, many of which had to be specific weights.
Team USA 2005 included baguette and specialty breads: Jeffrey Yankellow, baking and pastry instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute, San Francisco; viennoiserie: Jory Downer, co-owner of Bennison's Bakeries, Evanston, Ill.; and artistic design: William Leaman, team captain, chocolatier and pastry chef for The Essential Baking Co., Seattle.
Long road to victory
The Coupe win was a sweet end to a journey that most team members began long before they were selected in March 2004. Leaman witnessed his first Coupe du Monde in 1999 when Baking Team USA won first place, and he knew it was something he wanted to do for himself. "I would love to do it again, but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Leaman says.
For Downer, being selected to Baking Team 2005 was witness to his tenacity. He had tried out for two previous teams, in 1999 and 2001, in the specialty bread category. For Baking Team USA 2005, he switched his focus from bread baking to pastry making and made the cut in the viennoiserie category.
Once the team was selected, they worked to build team camaraderie. "The amount of chemistry we had as a team was unique, and it proved to be very successful," Leaman says.
The team members, including Team Manager Tim Foley and Team Coach Didier Rosada, knew each other even before the team members were chosen through working or taking classes at the former National Baking Center. "We knew each other before, and that made things much easier. We knew how Didier worked, and we knew what level the team needed to operate," Leaman says. Didier Rosada, former instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute and now vice president of operations at Uptown Bakers in Hyattsville, Md., was the team's coach and mentor. Rosada has been an integral part of training the baking teams since 1996.
To ensure preparedness, Baking Team USA 2005 gathered for several days of practice monthly beginning in August 2004. In December, the final competition rules and requirements were released, with some surprises. Leaman finally learned the theme for artistic design, An Emblem of Your Country in Bread. The biggest surprise, however, was the addition of the savory category. The team would have to work together to assemble 160 sandwiches and incorporate them into the design piece as well as complete their own requirements within the eight-hour time limit.
"The big thing is to make sure everybody is ready on the day of the competition," says Tim Foley, team manager and owner of Bit of Swiss Bakery in Stevensville, Mich. Foley was a member of Baking Team 2002, which came in second.
In addition to the monthly practices, the team practiced for two weeks straight before the competition and knew where everyone needed to be at any given time. All the practicing and knowledge of each other paid off during the competition. "I knew when I was behind and knew I had to go faster because I knew where Jory was," Yankellow says.
The team worked together very smoothly, Leaman agrees. "We talked to each other the whole time, but the people watching us couldn't tell we were talking," he says.
"Nothing went on that wasn't rehearsed," Downer adds.
While the team was apprehensive at first at the new savory category, in the end, it worked out well for them. They played off Yankellow's foodservice background, and the sandwiches worked well with Leaman's design piece, which featured the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge.
"In the end, I think the sandwiches made the show piece even nicer," Leaman says. The sandwiches ended up looking almost like cars crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
"We were one team, if not the only one, that clearly incorporated sandwiches into the design piece," Yankellow adds.
All the preparation and the competition itself have rewarded the team members in ways they could not fore-see. The team had time to socialize with the teams from the other countries and discovered that no matter the country, baking is baking with the same issues and challenges.
"It has done a great deal for morale of my bakery staff," Leaman says. "It shows them dreams can come true, but the competition is not for everyone. You do have to think about what it does to those at home. I was lucky to have a good assistant to run the pastry department of 30 employees while I was away."
For Yankellow, it was more about what he learned and found in himself. "I learned you have to constantly push yourself, that there really is no ceiling. Like when sandwiches were added to the competition, we just pushed harder," he says.
As co-owner of a full-line retail bakery, Downer knew that his being away was going to be difficult. "I didn't do it for the good of the bakery," he says, "but it has been good for business." It was a matter of proving to himself that he could do it. "I wanted my name on the same list as the past bakers who have competed. I have such respect for their ability," he adds. "If anybody has a chance to do it, they have to."
And, the best moment of all during the competition? "When we finished. When the eight hours were up and we were done," Downer says.
"I put Mt. Rushmore in place with five seconds left and grabbed a broom. Then, this arm came at me and it was Jory, who pulled us in for a team embrace. We knew we had made it," Leaman adds.
For more information about Bread Bakers Guild Baking Team USA 2005, visit bakery-net.com
Photos courtesy of Joe Burns
Another day of production
Leaman's artistic design sculpture celebrates the many faces of America.
Dguring the eight hours allotted to each team to compete in the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, the teams must complete a required number of products at specific weights. Enough to create stress in almost any seasoned baker, Bread Bakers Guild Baking Team USA practiced their steps and processes for months before the competition and finished just under the wire.
In the specialty bread category, Jeffrey Yankellow had to make 50 baguettes, 30 specialty breads and one large ethnic bread, plus smaller pieces for tasting. Jory Downer, in the viennoiserie category, produced 18 pastries from each type of sweet dough幌east risen, raised dough (fermented) and raised puff dough. Three pieces had to weigh 300 grams and 15 pieces had to weigh 60 to 100 grams. A total of 90 pastries had to be presented. In artistic design, William Leaman had to create a showpiece made from entirely edible ingredients in the theme of "Your country's emblem through bread." In addition, the three teammates worked together to produce 160 savory salted rolls, pastries and club sandwiches plus a rectangular sandwich bread. The savory products had to be incorporated into the design element.
Bakers looked to Europain for ideas
While the Coupe du Monde is a large draw for Europain, American bakers brought home merchandising and product ideas from the exhibition floor and visits to French bakeries. More than 37 percent of the attendees were international, with the United States ranking fourth in overall international attendees, following Spain, Belgium and Italy.
"The United States was well represented with bakers from across the country," says Phyllis Enloe, owner of Village Bakery Café, Amarillo, Texas. "I recommend that any artisan baker go. Meeting bakers from other countries is great."
Raul Porto, owner of Porto's Bakery, Glendale, Calif., found the show to be similar in scope to IBIE, held every three years in the United States. "We have most of the same equipment available here. I was expecting to see some new stuff," Porto says.
"I'm still very glad I went. My expectations were probably too high, but you always learn something new."
Charles Negaro, owner of Chabaso Bakery, New Haven, Conn., found the Europeans offered more organic products and healthful additives, especially for bread. But, too often the companies do not export to the United States, he says. Overall, however, he discovered that many of the ingredient suppliers have become international, offering similar ingredients found in the United States.
Advanced frozen technology
"It was exciting to be there among all the different nationalities of bakers," Enloe says. "Plus we really enjoyed the country."
One of the most rewarding aspects of the trip to France for Porto was the afternoon he took to visit some local bakeries. "The bakeries are awesome to look at," he says. Unlike the United States, where the majority of bakeries display products in two-or three-tier showcases, French bakeries often use a single level table with a splashguard. "They also are different in that they don't display as many different products as we do," Porto adds.
Negaro, who attends European trade shows fairly regularly, thought the trip overseas was well worth the time. "It's rare not to come away with at least one idea," he says. "And, one idea is often worth the trip."