In March 29th, all competitors came to the village in northern Paris. Although it was cold, you could smell the gunpowder in the air. The most glaring team is the team from Japan, one of the three most promising teams in this competition. The elites in the Japanese team included the chefs in the chain stores DONQ and the Imperial Hotel, who were trained by the winner of the World Cup of Baking in 2002. That was the first time the Taiwanese team attending this competition. Pao-Chun remembered that no one noticed the Taiwanese team.
One and half month before the World Cup of Baking (in 2008), the administration office in France sent new rules to the competitors. They asked the chef in the category baguettes and specialty breads (Pao-Chun in the Taiwanese team) to make 11 kinds of baguettes, in total 251 baguettes, within eight hours. All competitors were surprised by this request because this amount of breads usually takes 12 hours…In the eight hours in the competition, no one in the Taiwanese team drank a drop of water or went to the toilet. They worked with full strength and finished the task three minutes before the deadline. The Taiwanese team was the first one to finish, and the audience applauded for their effort. In 12 teams, only six made it. Even the Japanese team failed to finish the task on time.
Wildeny said why it is not easy for a chef trained and working in Taiwan to win the championship:
In Taiwan, this kind of artisan-style bread is not widely accepted. People still used to pastry-like sweet bread (soft & rich; which was influenced by Japan) or traditional steamed buns. Most bakers do not master in artisan baking.
The most challenging part in the competition, Justeating said is the specialty breads.
The competitors must think hard to produce the specialty breads that can represent the competitor’s own country. Last time (2008) the red wine longan breads won Pao-Chun the silver medal in the World Cup of Baking. The dried longan he used is from a longan tree that has been producing longan for hundreds of years. As soon as the longan is harvested, it is roasted in a wood-fired oven for six days and nights. The dired longan certainly represents Taiwan. What specialty breads will he make this year?
Just as expected, I ate a lot of failure products in the following months. Sometimes the sour flavor in the millet wine was too intense, sometimes the dried lichee was soft, rotten, and without its lychee flavor, sometimes I could not find the aroma of rose. After eating these failure products, I told Pao-Chun several times that he should give up rose because its aroma is the lightest. Nevertheless, Pao-Chun always told me, ‘we should think positively. Let us try one more time.’
Before Pao-Chun left for the competition in France, he finally found the perfect ingredients. The triangle shape of the breads represents mountains in our aboriginal culture. On the surface of the breads is the figure of lichee made of flour. In the competition, he used the lichee wine to replace the millet wine so the aroma of lichee can stand out. On top of it is the aroma of the organic rose from Puli–This is the graceful and special lichee rose breads.
When I heard that Pao-Chun is the winner, the first image brought to my mind is not the image of him holding the cup and surrounded by the reporters. Instead, it is a tired figure walking between the oven and the working platform with strong will in the eyes fired by his dream. That is in the afternoon, Feb 24th, 2010, when Pao-Chun did his last practice for the competition before he left for Paris.
To Pao-Chun, this is a war between himself. His friends can only encourage him and accompany him.
He said, ‘the competition is transient, but the lesson I learn from it lasts forever.’
From his perspective, the goals of this competition are telling the world the good stuff in Taiwan and learning to deal with pressure. The personal development is far more important than winning the prize.
This is a video for the World Cup of Baking in 2008.
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