05 June 2010

europain & intersuc - le salon mondial de la boulangerie, pâtisserie, glacerie, chocolaterie, confiserie

europain01it certainly looks delicious, doesn’t it? but you can’t eat it. not even if you could afford it – because it’s display only! for europain 2010, an international gathering of all things bakery, pastry, ice-cream, and confectionary related. in other words, things i love.

five days, eighty thousand square meters of space, six hundred and fifty exhibitors… and two very happy north americans.

being that it was held in paris, and that i lived one hour away from paris, there was no possible way i was not going to go. so with a pass given to me from a certain boulangerie in evreux, i was able to enter and look at the other side of the bakery world. not for the consumer, but for the professional.

europain08there was bread. bread demonstrations. bread baskets. mostly from flour companies.

europain09chocolate products for chocolatiers of all sorts. the usual demonstration as well as all sorts of materials and products being showcased. the mysteries of how chocolatiers get that “ooooo” response from customers was all unlocked here. i saw their secrets!

a fun subtle detail: for the uniform of a chef/patissier/boulanger/etc, the collar is usually white. but sometimes, it will have stripes with the colors of france. the only people who can wear those stripes are people who have been awarded the meilleur ouvrier title, which is a stringent competition for a wide range of skilled crafts held each year. and the prestige that comes with it is high high high! so when you see that striped collar, you know that person has made something of impeccable quality.

europain11pastry making on an industrial scale. and the equipment used to do it. an interesting contrast from the salon de l’agriculture a week earlier, where the goal was to promote the artisanal handmade local product.

speaking of contrast – i noticed a lot of vendors for frozen products touting how they were as good as fresh. so keep in mind that unless a bakery or shop you’re visiting has the actual word “boulangerie,” chances are it might be frozen… something we don’t like to believe when we’re buying food, but it’s definitely a common practice.

europain10and why weren’t any of these pastries for sale? i took me a few minutes as well. because what’s being sold isn’t the pastry – but the display case/refrigeration system. and obviously if they are empty then they don’t look as nice.

europain02a display stand of bread. but again, that isn’t the real product. the real product is the flour used to make the bread – note the little wheat stalks. after all, bags of flour aren’t very attractive – actual loaves of bread are what really draw people in.

europain03and… empty tables. with bottles of water. and country flags. and placeholders. hmm… logic tells me… it’s the judge’s table!

europain04competition time. not only was europain a gathering of people in the industry, it was also the site of a bread baking, patisserie, and sugar art competition.

europaintablettefor the artistic piece part of the bread competition, competitors had to create bread tablets representing 12 months of their country. the other two divisions were bread and viennese pastries.

europain05that is a face of concentration.

europain13once finished, they have to present their breads to the judges. as well as decorate one side of an eiffel tower. so by the time europain is over, there will be a mini tower of bread from all the competitors.

this is the best part because they take it so seriously – olympic opening ceremony style music  blaring , trilingual announcements, and people crowding the ropes to support their favorite baker as well as hoping for a taste, if you can imagine.

(in case you’re curious, for the bread part of the competition, they had to make a baguette, a sandwich loaf, a loaf typical of their country, some more types of loaves, as well as an improved bread from a basket of random ingredients. in only one day.)

europain06judges over at the dessert competition waiting to start

europain07a judge being served. they just nibble, write down some comments, and the dessert is whisked away… to the trash? to the servers? who knows! and then a new dessert is quickly brought out for them to nibble and repeat.

europain12you also have packaging vendors. ribbons, boxes, stickers, etc. because presentation is key when you have a lovely dessert!

europain15a sugar fish demo was also going on.  

europain14and at the end of it all, back on the RER, back on the corail, and then back in evreux.

i saw a lot. learned a lot. ate a lot, as usual. but the most striking thing to me was simply seeing the commercial side. before, i was a bit naive and really did believe all the romantic notions of the baker and his bread…. but after seeing frozen doughs, mixes, premade fillings, etc., i definitely have a more realistic view of how the bakery world functions.

but regardless, i’m even more in love with bread and pastries after this show.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, lucky you! I'd love to go there. Drool drool...



Alisa said...

Wow!love that bit of info about the striped collar.Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos, it's almost like being there.

astheroshe said...

I really like your blog.lots of interesting recipes and info :)

Médaille Gourmande said...

Oh my god!!! your pictures are so nice and you ve been so lucky to go to this saloon, i'm jealous!!!!!

cathy said...

@rosa: you're neighbors with france, do it!

thank you everybody :)!