Back in 1992, Christian Vabret—a baker’s son who has dedicated his life to his passion—created the Bakery World Cup, otherwise known as Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. This competition is often called the “Olympics of baking.”

It’s held during the Europain & Intersuc bakery and confectionery show in Paris, which took place February 5 to 9—a massive gathering of European suppliers, bakers and confectioners, with attendees coming from all around the globe. As I walked the floor, I gained inspiration from the baffling array of different breads and other baked goods—several of which are not yet common in the U.S., but would easily resonate with the ever-maturing American bakery scene, from mashup applications like an éclair croissant to Chia-Batta (ciabatta made with chia seeds) and Quinoette (a baguette made with quinoa). Of course, there was also an astounding array of traditional products, and the café culture of Paris is outstanding.

The Bakery World Cup is quite a draw at the show, with fans from competing nations cheering on their teams as they demonstrate their artisan baking acumen in three areas: Baguettes & Breads of the World, Viennoiserie & Savory Baking, and an Artistic Creation (for 2016, teams were tasked to create a presentation that best represented a top sport of their country, which was surfing for Team USA). (For a great perspective on the competition, check out “2016 Coupe Du Monde De La Boulangerie, Day 4: and the winners are…” written by Jeff Yankellow, a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America board of directors and part of the 2005 Bakery World Cup Team USA, which took first place that year.

For 2016, the Bakery World Cup finals consisted of teams from:

  • Japan
  • United States
  • Taiwan—2016 silver medal
  • The Netherlands
  • China
  • France—2016 bronze medal
  • Canada
  • Turkey
  • South Korea—2016 gold medal
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Mauritius

While they didn’t place this time around, I primarily focused on Team USA’s efforts. You can review their creations via the video (“2016 Bakery World Cup”) and photographs from the competition (at the top of this page). Team USA’s Artistic Creation, composed entirely of bread and depicting a surfer girl catching a tasty wave, is truly a work of art.