A look at CRPC3; Chefs create the Emmy-Award winning pastry competition series.
Chicago has certainly come to prominence in the national food scene, so it seems appropriate that top chefs in the windy city are contributing to the future of pastry competitions. The Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition (CRPC) just wrapped its third season, filming the competition on September 15, 2013 at The Chicago School of Mold Making.
The Chef Finalists were chosen in a blind selection process: Michaela Hapak from Splendido Restaurant in Toronto, Canada; Jim Hutchison from Winvian Relais & Chateaux of Morris, Connecticut; Sean Pera, The Umstead Hotel & Spa, Cary, North Carolina and runner up and first time repeat competitor Meg Galus from NoMi Restaurant at the Park Hyatt Chicago.
“Season 3 was great- the bar has been seriously raised.” says Chef Jimmy MacMillan. Chef MacMillan is half of the team that facilitates the competition, JMPurePastry LLC. His partner, wife Julie MacMillan, prepared the Chefs and Judges dinner; a sit down Thai feast that set the tone for the entire competition weekend.
“We wanted to show hospitality and respect to the chefs, judges and sponsors. Too often chefs travel to compete and aren’t treated with the respect they deserve. We wanted to feed them and make them comfortable so they can excel on competition day.” explains Julie MacMillan.
CRPC3 Chef Finalists Michaela Hapak, Sean Pera, Meg Galus, Jim Hutchison. Photo by JMPurePastry.
The Chefs arrived at the school on Saturday afternoon to load-in. Before they unpack they participated in the Drawing of Advantages, a blind draw of folded paper that designates which station a chef will use, when they will start and the order they will pick ingredients and plates for the three challenges.
This year Chef MacMillan added a new challenge: Artisan Gelato Milkshake. “We want the Chef Finalists to redefine milkshakes; to show us what a milkshake might look like if they created one in their shop for a visiting friend.”
Following the tradition from Season One, there is was also a Mystery Challenge - this year involving a four inch sphere mold that they filled with various desserts items. Ingredients for the competition were provided by sponsors PreGel America, Nielsen-Massey, Wholesome Sweeteners and DeZaan Gourmet in the first two challenges.
The third and last challenge of Competition Day was the Signature Plated Dessert. No limits were placed on this segment and chefs could use any ingredients they wished. They only curve ball was that they hadn’t seen which Steelite plates had been selected for the competition, and they had to adapt their dessert depending on which plate they picked. As in the above ingredient selection, once a chef picked a plate it is off the table for the rest of the group.
The kitchen was flush with equipment from Waring Commercial, ABS/Taylor, Irinox and Eloma. Chefs were given bus tubs of iSi spatulas, chinois, whisks and other hand tools.
Jimmy MacMillan and Julie MacMillan
Chef MacMillan describes the difference, “Instead of finding out how well a chef can perform under the most difficult situation, we want to document how well a chef can perform given as many advantages as possible. We have our ingredient partners send the finalists products to their shops so they are familiar with them when they come to Chicago to compete.”
Chef MacMillan is a newly minted Top Ten Pastry Chef in America and was joined this year by fellow Top Ten Chefs, Will Goldfarb and Antonio Bachour. Chicago’s most pedigreed young chef, Curtis Duffy, also scored the chefs on everything from taste, design, use of ingredients and narrative.
While the new format is fresh and enticing, the only attendees were the sponsors, the Brands of Distinction and Premium Brands that supported the competition. The rest of the dessert world must wait until December 2013 for the Trailer and January for the first episode in the four part mini series that releases its finale in April 2014.
Michael Joy, Principal of the Chicago School of Mold Making and Master Mold Maker was an early collaborator in the competition. “What Jimmy MacMillan and JMPurePastry are doing is several steps ahead of everyone else.” says Mr. Joy, “Their vision of utilizing media to tell a chef’s story is inspiring the industry”.
Sean Pera's ‘ASH’. Photo by Anthony Tahlier.
JMPurePastry works closely with Bitter Jester Creative, a film production company who captured the competition’s weekend of events with a multi-camera shoot. Photographer Anthony Tahlier shot stills of the chefs’ desserts.
As of this printing, Season Two of The Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition has received Four Emmy Award nominations. “We’re invigorated by the positive response from the chefs, sponsors and industry leaders. It’s a ton of hard work to co-ordinate, but the results are incredible”, reflects Chef Jimmy MacMillan, “now we’re headed into the three month edit of Season Three!”
For more information on The Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition check out the website:
More images from CRCPC3:
CRPC3 Filming. Photo by Beatrice S.
Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition (CRPC) 3 Chefs and Crew. Photo by Anthony Tahlier.
Three Kings Top Ten Pastry Chefs Anthony Bachour, Will Goldfarb, Jimmy MacMillan.
The Judges Table.
Sponsors product display.