Chocolate Peep Show
Today I’ll take you into the world of competitive chocolate making (yes, it’s a thing). In fact, it’s the Cacao Barry World Chocolate Masters competition, which in layman’s terms is the world cup for chocolatiers. Kicking off next week in Paris from October 31 to November 2. Here’s a peek behind the scenes with the Danish contestant Tor Stubbe and his awesome crew in Kødbyen, Copenhagen.
This year, Denmark’s competing in the shape of pastry chef Tor Stubbe, backed up during the preparation period by his team from Bojesen Catering in Copenhagen – although once on stage, he will be completing all of the tasks alone. Back in June, I had the pleasure of covering an earlier stage of their preparations for Munchies, so hit it up, if you want to get up to speed (in Danish). This time I’m going back in there in the hopes of experiencing Tor doing a timed test of some of the tasks in the competition.
As usual, I arrive at the two closed graffiti-covered doors facing Ingerslevsgade in Copenhagen. By now, I know to just push one of them open, as none of the pastry people inside will hear me knocking. From there on it’s a dark descent into the basement from which the gang operates.
First thing I hear is the Australian guy talking from the speakers: “When Beth was murdered, she was wearing a pink night shirt….”. “It’s an Aussie true crime podcast”, sous-chef Freja Krarup explains. “Keeps us from going mad.” The group today is made up of three chicks and one guy, all of whom are fiddling with what looks like hobby stuff: clay, scissors, drawing materials. However, the man of the hour is nowhere to be seen.
Since I was last here the crew has submitted the final recipes and so the seven challenges of the competition are pretty much set in stone. Here’s what Tor will have to create over the course of three days:
1) A huge chocolate showpiece
2) A travel cake
3) A 100g chocolate bar
4) A snack to go/street food
5) Moulded bonbons
6) Fresh patisserie
7) A small chocolate design
For obvious reasons I can’t disclose their concepts at this point, but I can reveal that kombucha, beetles and pigtails are involved.
A while later, Tor returns from Fab Lab in Nordvest, his usual beaming self. “Never felt better”, he claims, and maybe it’s true, though it’s hard to believe considering their current training routine (5 hours after work three days a week – one of them a Saturday, so only one day off, phew!). But on the other hand, Tor is made of a different material than the rest of us. A more chipper and focused professional is hard to come by.
After a while I realise that there’ll be no run-through of Tor’s routine today so I decide to just stick around for a bit longer. Later, Tor and Freja test their chocolate showpiece to see how many kilos the construction will hold. Using bottles of detergent and boxes upon boxes of their delicious pralines (you know, whatever’s on hand when you’re a chocolatier) they stack ‘em up until they’ve established that it’ll carry at least 10 kilos. What a relief! “You know, if I had put one bottle up there on the top shelf only to see it collapsing under the weight, I’d be a little sad. But thankfully that’s not the case,” Tor says, seriously downplaying the importance of the test. Can’t wait to see the full showpiece once in Paris.
For my Danish speaking readers, I’ll be covering the event for Copenhagen Food and hopefully I’ll have some juice left for an English word or two right here on the blog. (That’s the first time I’ve used that word as well as this place for years!)