Five creative professionals fight it out live before the audience to get one step closer to the title of "Pastry Chef of the Year". Which two winners will qualify for the grand finale at Anuga in Cologne is decided by the judging panel with star pastry chefs such as Christian Hümbs (Restaurant Haerlin **, Hamburg), René Frank (La Vie *** Osnabrück) and Xano Saguer (Espaisucre, Barcelona).
The programme is a culinary adventure of shows, tastings and a fair, showcasing patisserie trends and techniques. A major highlight is the iPastry, a new cooking show concept: 3 star pastry chefs, 3 components, 3 interpretations.
René Frank / La Vie ***, Osnabrück
The young pastry chef René Frank can already look back on an impressive career. After training as a chef he took part in numerous cooking contests, with great success. In 2005 he won the gold medal for Germany at the Association of Chefs in Helsinki competition.
He started specialising in pastry at the Zirbelstube Stuttgart but continued to expand his knowledge, attending further courses at international schools in areas such as sugar artistry, pralines and chocolate. Particularly formative were also his stints at the renowned Culinary Institute of America and at Alain Ducasse Formation in Paris.
This was followed by stints in numerous highly decorated houses in the world, such as Chocolaterie-Patisserie "Oriol Balaguer" in Barcelona or the three-star restaurants in San Sebastian Akkelare and with Georges Blanc in Vonnas, France. Further visits to Switzerland and Japan followed. Since 2010, René Frank puts his experience to good use at restaurant la vie in Osnabrück.
As the pastry chef for this three-star restaurant, Frank creates modern desserts and chocolates, only with fresh ingredients, that are very light and often have a fruity-sour component.
Christian Hümbs / Restaurant Haerlin ** Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Hamburg
For years, Christian Hümbs has made a name for himself in the industry and is today one of the most creative pastry chefs in Germany. His success is due to a distinctive style which he has developed in various reputable houses throughout Germany in recent years.
He began his career first as a confectioner, later as a chef. He then worked with Johann Lafer, where he quickly rose to be Pastry Chef. He continued focussing on the sweet arts at Louis C. Jacob in Hamburg, Aqua at The Ritz Carlton in Wolfsburg and La Mer in the A-ROSA Sylt.
Hümbs is known primarily for his innovative incorporation of vegetables into his dessert. "I'm trying continuously to find ways of providing people with new horizons and to knock down and inspire what has been anchored in the heads of people as classical." However, Hümbs isn’t just of the traditional only in the restaurant, but also in the whole hotel chain: “Be it cakes, pies, candies, sugar sculptures – I love everything, without exception, that has something that is sweet," says the award-winning Pastry Chef.
Since the beginning of 2014, Christian Hümbs finds himself in a new working environment. As Pastry Chef of the Haerlin restaurant at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten he will continue to inspire the trade industry as well as the gourmets of Hamburg scene with original sweet creations.
Xano Saguer / Espaisucre, Barcelona
The Spanish Maestro Patisserie Xano Saguer is as a permanent member of the panel at the Pastry Chef of the Year.
After completing his studies at the "Escuela de pastelería del gremio de Barcelona", his training in the patisserie "Empordanesa" in Figueres (Girona) and various specialised courses, Xano Saguer worked for years in different pastry shops and restaurants in Catalonia.
Together with Jordi Butrón Xano Saguer is the founder of Espaisucre in Barcelona. The first dessert restaurant in the world, Espaisucre has been causing a stir in the industry for several years now. Attached to the restaurant is a patisserie school, where students learn modern techniques and methods from all over the world. But these facts are not only used in the traditional sweet area. A “dessert menu” at Espaisucre isn’t just confined to a sequence of purely sweet dishes, but also introduces the guest to a completely new world of culinary delights.
Saguer emphasises this philosophy internationally. With the competition "The Best Restaurant Dessert", with participants from different countries, he is searching for new international talent of the trade not only in Spain, but also in Mexico.
In addition to the pastry competition, the following day will see the Chef of the Year competition take place, featuring another star panel, including:
Dieter Müller / MS Europa
Chairperson of the panel
Dieter Müller has achieved everything that a chef can achieve. His amuse bouche menu made history. For many, he is one of the top chefs in Germany and one of the world's few "greats". Müller is a modern-thinking person who is open to new things. His compositions incorporate the flavours of Asia as well as Mediterranean and French influences. Respected and appreciated by the world's best chefs such as Paul Bocuse, "Dieter Müller has brilliantly revived traditional cuisine in his country and opened it up for new flavours."
Thomas Bühner / La Vie, Osnabrück
Thomas Bühner starte his career as a chef after he took an aptitude test at the employment centre as a young man. He soon realised: “I not only want to be a chef, but a good chef!” After several stints at the most prestigious restaurants in Germany, such as Landhaus Scherrer, Schwarzwaldstube and his own restaurant La Table, Bühner opened restaurant la vie in Osnabrück together with his companion Thayarni Kanagaratnam and his trusted team. He was awarded 2 Michelin stars and 19 Gault Millau points right away and received his third star in 2011.
Thomas Martin / Jacobs Restaurant in the Hotel Louis C. Jacob, Hamburg
Thomas Martin is inspired by the hanseatic flair of his chosen home Hamburg. He is modest, honest and has his feet firmly on the ground. With his signature style of cooking he has given a special character to the “Jacob”. He says: "I am constantly looking for new producers and suppliers in the surrounding areas, because I feel very rooted in the region." His cuisine is light and classic with a French accent, building a bridge to the French roots of the house. He gathered experience from the great masters of German cuisine such as Eckart Witzigmann. His style seems simple but also emanates great perfection, while also being straightforward and without frills.