Uncommon Sense - with Chef Kengo Akabame Pastry-Live-5-Chefs Kengo Akabame and Toshiori Akishiro Winner of Showpiece Championship-photo-by-Kricket-Kirkpatrick

Chefs Kengo Akabame & Toshiori Akishiro from the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo

Greetings 2016 Pastry Live Competitors!

Welcome to Uncommon Sense – Competition Tips from Champions to get everyone even more into shape for Pastry Live 2016!

Over the past decade, The Chicago School of Mold Making/Chicago Culinary FX has developed hundreds of custom silicone molds with many of the best chefs in the industry. We also send Beatrice S. Schneider, our creative director, to photograph and support them during the actual international events, gleaning a wealth of knowledge from our talented friends. When it comes to sharing information gained by experience, our collaborators have much to offer. As the time counts down for Pastry Live 2016, here are tips from past champion competitors.

Beatrice reached out to 2015 National Showpiece Champion Chef Kengo Akabame, who through a translator shared these tip with us…

Uncommon Sense-with Chef Kengo Akabame

1. Consider Hygiene. Both the chocolate and sugar showpieces must be edible. Work with them as though you were making cakes.

2. Keep Clean. Do not only consider hygiene, but also keeping your working environment clean while you work. Imagine that you are working in expensive suits. Keep your chef jacket pristine.

3. Do practice as much as possible. You need practice, this is only way to train your skill and become a good team.

4. When you practice, work as though you are actually competing. If you don’t try in the same conditions as the competition, you cannot find your weaknesses that need to be improved. Do your trials runs in the same time frame with the same equipment that you will be using in the competition.

5. Work within the time frame but don’t rush to finish. After the practices, factor the time it takes to complete the showpiece within the allotted time, and allow yourself enough time for dealing with the unexpected.

6. Use as many new techniques as you can. This is most important point for the audience and judges.

7. Make a showpiece with many parts. Don’t make anything too simple. You need to show that you work hard.

8. Don’t show any sloppy work and loose points with the judges. Make a clean showpiece. Judges don’t add the points, just reduce from 100%.

9. Give a depth to the showpiece. Judges see 360 degrees of the showpiece. Consider how the showpiece looks all around- like a sculpture. Don’t consider just the height and width.

10. Make a showpiece with a theme that’s easy to understand, but not too simple. Don’t make a “Toy” because the theme is “Toy.” Interpret the theme and add your own take on it. Your interpretation of the theme should be easy to understand for the audience too.

11. Utilize the natural beauty of your medium to show your skill as “chocolatier” or “sugar artist. But don’t make the showpiece all shiny or brilliant. The contrast of matte and neutrals makes the brilliant and colored part look more shiny.

12. . Make a big showpiece, with a enough small parts too. For the competition, the showpiece must be big enough to impress the audience and have enough small parts to show your skills and support your story. It will show thought and draw both the judges and audience into your showpiece.

13. Understand the Rules. Since you have a big showpiece, prepare as many things as you can in advance to save time during the competition. However honor the rules and if you are not sure, ask the organizer if your plans fit within the parameters of the rules.

14. Utilize color but keep it real. Don’t make a showpiece with too vivid in color. The showpiece is food and art. It should look natural. Too many colors can be distracting, use color to as tie a showpiece together and create points of focus.

15. Communicate well in the team. If it’s a team championship, the collaboration among the team is very important. You cannot make great job alone. If you have practiced a lot together it will show.

16. Don’t ‘party’ the night before the competition. Sleep enough and celebrate after the competition.

Thank you Chef Kengo Akabame for sharing your competition tips and Kiwamu Kamimura for translating.

Dear Pastry Live competitors, we hope you have found these insights helpful and are getting ready to show your best. We really can’t wait to see what you make, the best of luck!

Beatrice Schneider & Michael Joy
Creative Director & Master Mold Maker
Chicago School of Mold Making/Chicago Culinary FX