Frederik Borgskog Wins the International Final of the Valrhona C3 Pastry Competition

By Claudia Koch

By

Claudia Koch
Fredrik Borgskog celebrates his First Prize victory
Fredrik Borgskog celebrates his First Prize victory

“This competition is basically a huge chocolate melting pot.” Emcee Zac Young’s analogy was an apt depiction of the international final of the Valrhona C3 pastry competition hosted at the 11th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress. The seven competing chefs from all over the world ranged from established veteran to relative newcomer. This year’s theme “30 Years Guanaja 70%” provided a playground for them to showcase their skills. “The goal is to focus on the day-to-day work of pastry chefs in a restaurant and to value their job and its artistry,” said Young.

The petit fours were first to prove his point. While Fabrizio Fiorani (Japan), Damien Gendron (France), Nicolas Blouin (USA), and Fredrik Borgskog (Sweden) kept their presentations classic and focused on craftsmanship, individual style, and flavor, other competitors chose a more outside-the-box approach. Italian Chef Nicola Dobnik presented a glowing “Planet Guanaja” inside a UV-light box, and Andrea Dopico (Spain) offered the jury her seven-layered petit four “L’Essence de Guanaja” in a scented glass dome. Swiss-based Chef Benjamin Kunert served the judges “BBQ Burgers” composed of an authentic burger bun, Guanaja 70%, mango gel, smoked sweet mayonnaise, and tree tomato ketchup. His unorthodox and bold approach throughout the competition ultimately paid off in the form of the Press Jury Award and €1,000 prize.

Next, the finalists focused on their plated desserts. “It’s a test of skills to accomplish something that’s so complicated, delicate, and delicious in that short amount of time,” said Judge Johnny Iuzzini. Competitors were allowed just two hours and 40 minutes to complete both the petit four and their plated dessert.

While Fiorani combined flavors of Italy with elements from Japan, Kunert focused on the things that grow outside of his restaurant in Switzerland. Gendron followed through with his theme of “fragility” with an intricate creation “Celeste”: Guanaja 70% Moelleux, Mikan and Flowing Yuzu Juice, Opaline Cocoa Nibs, Chocolate Mousse, Sobacha Foam, Mikan Jelly, Guanaja Sauce, and Shortbread Croustillant. Blouin presented the judges his interpretation of a “Poire Belle Helene” enclosed in a delicate blown sugar pear—a signature sculptural element in his desserts. Dobnik drew inspiration for his plate from the New York’s skyline, and Dopico elaborated on the essence of perfume.

Borgskog, who created a modern, clean plate following Nordic aesthetics, used the C3 logo as a visual guideline. Suitable for a dessert competition, the judges decided that the best was saved for last when they announced Borgskog as the winner of the Grand Prize of €5,000 and custom Valrhona trophy. Gendron placed second and took home €2,000.

Borgskog, a seasoned competitor, had already pocketed some top rankings as a member of the Swedish culinary team from 2005 to 2008 and also successfully competed with the Swedish Pastry Team for three years. Nevertheless, he was surprised at his win: “It was my first big competition by myself, and I didn’t expect to win because everybody was so strong. And, of course, everyone tries to keep their dessert top secret, so you don’t know what to expect. A week ago I had a good feeling, but yesterday and today not so much. The heat, the freezer, everything made it so much harder.”

The Swede draws inspiration from architecture and art, conceptualizing his desserts first on paper and then with clay models. “You think of something you want to make, and then you try to figure out how to do it. And then you come up with something else and add it. And then you change something. It’s a process.”

His entries persuaded the judges with technical prowess, clean lines, and balanced use of acidity and sweetness that complemented the darkness of Guanaja 70% without overpowering it. Although Borgskog’s flavor profiles for both desserts derived from a similar train of thought, they were different. His plated dessert gained sweetness from white chocolate and coconut, zing from green apples, and herbal notes from atsina cress. The petit four received tartness from sudachi, a spicy kick from timut pepper, and bite from banana crisp bread and quinoa-nut cookie.

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