Greetings Competitors!

Welcome to our third edition of Uncommon Sense – Competition Tips from Champions.

Over the past decade, The Chicago School of Mold Making, now as Chicago Culinary FX, has developed hundreds of custom silicone molds with many of the best chefs in the industry. We are also present with 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 draws near for Pastry Live 2016, we thought it important to share tips from past champion competitors.

The third in our series of competition tips, we proudly present Uncommon Sense – with Maura Metheny, 2013 National Showpiece Champion, then the Director of Innovation and Product Design for Norman Love Confections – this fall joining the Pastry Arts team at Johnson & Wales University. Our creative director, Beatrice Schneider recently caught up with her via email. Here is what she has to share…

Uncommon Sense with Maura Metheny

1. Having timed and judged practice sessions, as many as possible. We had Norman Love, co-workers, or visiting chefs judge us as if we were competing, to get a better idea of how we looked when working and how to look clean.

2. We found packing all your tools in shipping boxes ahead and getting shipping labels made ahead to ship the items back saved a lot of post competition stress, we had a list of what went into the box and brought packing to close it up and drop it off at the hotel’s shipping and receiving.

3. Know the rules by heart and clarify any doubts.

4. Practice with the brand sugar or chocolate you will be given, they all react very different and change the way you work with it.

5. Use Michael Joy (Master Mold Maker and Artist)! For suggestions on technical aspects of molds and different materials!! use the products and services CMS(Chicago Mold School) offers!!

6. Practice with the tall chef hat if you normally don’t wear them.

7. Get the dimensions of the showpiece table, height can effect a lot when assembling.

8. Don’t take anything for granted, clarify ahead with the Judge panel, simple things like access to hand washing sinks or side towels might not be possible.

9. We plastic wrapped our pedestals to keep them clean until the end.

10. Bring a battery powered clock if u can’t wear a watch to keep on track with time.

11. Sleep well the night before.

12. Bring drinks and power bars or trail mix and Tylenol, make sure to eat and drink during the competition.

13. Use the bathroom 15 min before it starts so you don’t leave during.

14. Bring a stack of flip chart paper to airbrush on and throw away top sheet each time you finish an item to have a clean surface and no mess for the next item to airbrush.

15. Chop or grind your seeding Chocolate to help temper faster.

16. Anything with batteries, bring backup batteries.

17. Use layers of gloves whenever possible so you can remove soiled quickly without having to stop to put more on at crucial times of gluing and assembling or airbrushing finished pieces.”

We hope you find these insights helpful. In case you missed the first Uncommon Sense- with Andy Chlebana or second Uncommon Sense- Daniel Keadle…Otherwise watch your inbox for the next Uncommon Sense, with 2014 National Showpiece Champion, Pastry Chef Bill Foltz as he shares his suggestions… Good Luck everyone!