Company buys out local partner following last year’s law change allowing complete ownership of onshore firms
Food giant Mars has become one of the first multinationals to take advantage of the UAE’s new foreign direct investment (FDI) laws offering foreign companies 100 per cent ownership of onshore companies by buying out its local partner.
The company, which has had a presence in the UAE for 40 years, has bought all of the shares in its onshore Dubai subsidiary, in which it had previously held a 49 per cent stake. Foreign-owned companies could only own a minority stake in UAE companies until the introduction of the FDI law last year, although they could set up wholly-owned ventures within the country’s free zones, which were considered to be ‘offshore’ for regulatory purposes.
“Having a 100 per cent ownership company onshore will help strengthen our presence and development in the Middle East,” Karim Chabara, general manager of Mars Incorporated’s Gulf operations said.
Mars is a privately-owned food company that includes some of the world’s best-known confectionery brands as well as food brands such as Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s, and pet food brands Whiskas, Royal Canin and Pedigree. The company is still owned by the Mars family, and has revenue of $35 billion, although chief executive Grant Reid told Bloomberg in January this year that it would look to double this beyond $70bn within the next decade.
The company has invested more than $150 million in its UAE operations thus far, setting up an offshore presence within Jebel Ali Free Zone in 1993 before creating an onshore joint venture in 2013.
In 2017, following a $23bn deal to take over chewing gum maker Wrigley, Mr Chabara said that “Mars GCC and Wrigley Middle East companies were integrated as one Mars business operating in the GCC”.
“The integration resulted in the Mars Dubai office becoming the regional hub for Mars Wrigley,” he said. The Dubai company now employs more than 400 people.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Mr Chabara. “We’ve got great scale in the UAE and some incredibly strong brands – five are placed within the top 10 confectionery brands in the country – Galaxy, Snickers, Bounty & M&M’s in chocolate and Extra in gum. We have a leading presence in most retail outlets across the UAE.”
The company was advised on the share purchase by law firm Clyde & Co.
Who wants to eat bread in this sweltering heat? Fortifying bread is something more applicable to the winter months of the year while summer is best spent at the beach or the pool with an ice-cold slice of juicy watermelon, right? Wrong!
Few breads are especially suited to our hot, Mediterranean climate, but one country has perfected a light, summery bread – Italy – and it is called the ciabatta.
Italian baking tradition has deep roots, beginning with ancient Egypt and continuing with the Romans. Ironically, however, the ciabatta was not the fruit of this ancient tradition but rather a response to the French baguette in the 1980s. Intimidated by the baguette’s intrusion into Italy’s baking culture, Italian baker Arnaldo Cavallari decided to develop an Italian bread to rival the baguette, and the ciabatta was born.
The ciabatta combines typical, traditional Italian baking techniques with a revolutionary, counterintuitive method of mixing dough.
Like much of traditional Italian baking, the ciabatta uses biga, a pre-fermented dough-mixing technique Italian bakers developed during the Industrial Revolution to replace sourdough. Biga, unlike sourdough which relies on wild yeast from the air, uses regular baker’s yeast, in minute amounts, to ensure a slow fermentation process and the development of complexity of flavor in the bread.
Everyone exalts the Mediterranean diet for its health benefits, a mainstay of which is olive oil. It is therefore not surprising that olive oil is also an integral part of the ciabatta.
Where the ciabatta bids farewell to traditional Italian baking, however, is in a new, counterintuitive method of mixing the dough. Perhaps inspired by the sweltering heat of the Mediterranean and the natural inclination to want to bathe in cold water, Cavallari decided to “bathe” the dough in prodigious amounts of water. In regular breads, the ratio of water to flour (hydration factor) is 65%. In ciabatta the ratio is 75%, which results in a very soft, sticky dough somewhere between pancake batter and bread dough.
You have to resist the natural instinct to add extra flour when mixing this amorphous, sticky concoction and endure 10 minutes of kneading that seem to be going nowhere, as the dough does not “tighten up” like regular dough and become silky-smooth and elastic.
After rising, ciabatta dough is little improved in consistency from when it was kneaded, and because of its watery consistency defies traditional shaping techniques. The only thing you can really do with such soft dough is to flour your hands well, reach in and grab a sticky clump and using both hands, stretch it into something resembling a rectangular shape and lay it down on a baking tray. I say “resembling” a rectangle, because achieving a rectangle is highly optimistic and takes some experience and skill. Most of my first efforts resembled a dinosaur appendage and progressed to something that looked initially like a tree log. After a while, when the dough rises and settles, however, it starts to look a little like a slipper, and that is where the bread got its name. Ciabatta in Italian means slipper.
The bread is then baked in a very hot oven.
Your persistence in preparing this bread will be amply rewarded, as the result is a light, airy, spongy bread, with a unique texture, an intoxicating hint of olive oil and a slightly nutty taste from the biga.
The ciabatta has become the standard Italian daily bread, just like the baguette in France, but in my humble opinion, the ciabatta surpasses the baguette both in texture and flavor. In Israel, they have something called a “jepeta,” which people mistake for Italian ciabatta, but is nothing close. The slang term “jepeta” here has become synonymous with a bread “sandwich.”
Cavallari, a highly skilled baker who was able to think “out of the box,” has created what is perhaps the perfect bread for hot summers.
Foodwatch has launched a petition urging the food maker to cut titanium dioxide from its ingredients list.
Although it is considered safe by European regulators, the contentious ingredient has been linked to negative health consequences, including damage to the intestinal flora and – in the form of very small nanoparticles – the development of cancer.
E171 is a colouring used in over 900 food products, from confectionery and baked goods to sauces such as mayonnaise. It is used to achieve a white, opaque or cloudy colour.
The ingredient will be banned in France from 2020. According to France’s health and safety agency (ANSES), a lack of evidence guaranteeing the safety of titanium dioxide informed the decision.
Foodwatch’s campaign follows research that, the campaign group claimed, showed Dr. Oetker’s products contain E171 nanoparticles.
According to Foodwatch, Dr. Oetker had assured the safety campaigners that the titanium dioxide used as a white dye in its products are ‘safe for your health’.
“For all Dr. Oetker products that currently contain the dye titanium dioxide, we can assure you that the size of the titanium dioxide used is above the nanometer scale,”? Foodwatch quoted Dr. Oetker as stating.
The size of the titanium dioxide particles is important because some research has suggested that the consumption of titanium dioxide nanoparticles is associated with an elevated risk of cancer.
Foodwatch therefore commissioned laboratory tests to determine the particle size of titanium dioxide contained in various Dr. Oetker products. A spokesperson for the group told this publication that it collected samples from ‘about 100 products’ available in supermarkets that contain titanium dioxide.
Rather than looking at the ‘absolute quantity’ of E171, the tests considered the proportion of nanoparticles in the titanium dioxide used, the spokesperson explained.
The results, Foodwatch asserted, demonstrate that Dr. Oetker products do contain titanium dioxide nanoparticles. “Of the four tested Oetker products, all four contained nano-titanium dioxide. The nano portion was between 22% and 100%,” ?the spokesperson said. The product containing 100% nano-E171 was Dekor Kreation Rosa Mix.
Dr. Oetker did not immediately respond to request for comment.
‘Ban E171 in food’
Foodwatch wants manufacturers to stop using titanium dioxide. “Food manufacturers are responsible for the safety of their products. As there are doubts about the safety of E171 and the substance has no benefit for consumers, manufacturers must immediately dispense with this substance,”? the spokesperson asserted.
The group also wants to see European safety regulators follow France’s lead and prohibit the use of E171 in food products. “France is setting a good example and has already issued a ban for 2020. This must urgently be extended to the entire EU. Until then, however, we believe food manufacturers have the duty [to remove the ingredient]. For reasons of preventive health protection, manufacturers… [should] immediately renounce titanium dioxide.”?
This view is held by several other consumer watchdogs. Throughout the EU, other consumer groups have also questioned the safety of E171 as an additive in food and urged safety regulators to ban its use.
“There are growing indications that the additive E171 is unsafe for consumers,”? Camille Perrin, food policy officer at European consumer organisation BEUC, told FoodNagigator.
“According to EU laws, a food additive may only be authorised provided its use is safe, technologically justified, and if it does not mislead, but on the contrary benefits, the consumer. The E171 additive meets none of these conditions. For this reason, together with other civil society organisations, we urge the European Commission to protect the health of European consumers and propose to ban the use of E171 in food.”?
The BEUC and eight other civil organisations, including Foodwatch and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), sent a letter to the European Commission in May outlining concerns over E171.
EFSA: E171 ‘not a concern for human health’
Despite mounting pressure from consumer lobbyists, the European Food Safety Authority continues to stand by its 2016 safety assessment of titanium dioxide.
In 2016, EFSA said that available data on E171 in food showed absorption levels were ‘extremely low’ and that its use as an additive ‘does not raise a genotoxic concern’. And while the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as a possible human carcinogen, EFSA stated that it is not carcinogenic after oral administration.
In 2018, EFSA responded to a request from the EC by publishing an opinion on four new publications that emerged since completion of its 2016 opinion. “In this opinion EFSA concluded that, while work was ongoing to fill data gaps highlighted in its 2016 opinion, there was no need to revisit its previous conclusions,”? a spokesperson for the food safety body told FoodNavigator.
EFSA’s most recent thinking on E171 acknowledges the importance that particle size may play to safety.
“In July this year, EFSA published an opinion recommending the inclusion of an additional parameter related to the particle size distribution in the current EU specifications for E171. The more precise characterisation of titanium dioxide used as a food additive, which follows up on recommendations from EFSA’s previous work, will assist in the identification of relevant toxicity studies for risk assessment,”? the spokesperson explained.
“EFSA’s Panel considered that from the characterisation of the particle size distribution of E171 there was no reason to revise EFSA’s previous conclusions on safety. The Panel also stated that additional ongoing toxicity testing would further decrease outstanding uncertainty related to the safety assessment of titanium dioxide.”?
French pâtissier Tipiak has unveiled a new selection of pop macarons for the UK foodservice sector. Featuring stunning fruit flavors, the Pop Macarons Fruits are gluten-free – currently the only gluten-free authentic French macarons available widescale to the UK hospitality sector.
“The main challenges in producing gluten-free macarons are ensuring that all the ingredients are gluten-free when they arrive at the manufacturing unit and safeguarding their gluten-free integrity throughout the baking process right through to packing,” Charlotte Ganier told WorldBakers. The company representative also added that this includes segregating all ingredients to avoid any cross-contamination in the bakery environment. Tiapik ensures that all staff is fully trained in gluten-free production methods so that the macarons maintain their gluten-free credentials from start to finish.
Regarding the consumer profile, Ganier explained us that free-from foods are one of the growth sectors in foodservice. The demand for gluten-free products has risen steadily and in response, foodservice operators are offering an increasingly wider range of gluten-free items. “Many consumers today are looking for good quality, premium products – something that Tipiak specializes in. All of Tipiak’s pâtisserie, canapés and macarons are hand-assembled by trained professionals including bakers, chefs, and pastry chefs,” Ganier highlighted.
Each mixed pack of pop macarons contains six bold fruit flavours in pastel shades, decorated with contrasting fruit-flavored lacing. The selection features the fruity flavors of blackcurrant, lemon-yuzu, morello cherry, coconut, passionfruit and apricot.
“Macarons have been a huge hit on social media in recent years – introducing a whole new generation to these authentic delights. Macarons are now a must-serve ingredient on any afternoon tea menu, as well as being popular accompaniments to coffee or as a sweet buffet option. So versatile, macarons are also used as decorations or as key ingredients in desserts and freakshakes and can even be served as wedding favors,” explains Charlotte Ganier, international development project manager at Tipiak, which supplies frozen, authentic French pâtisserie to the UK foodservice sector.
The new Pop Macarons Fruits join an existing range of Tipiak pâtisserie and macarons supplied frozen to the UK foodservice sector via distributor Central Foods.
Tipiak macarons have a significantly higher almond content than most other macarons in the marketplace, enhancing their flavor, and making them less brittle and fragile, and less sweet.
Gluten-free, with certification from the French Coeliac Association, the macarons are also suitable for vegetarians.
Tipiak’s new Pop Macarons Fruits are produced in France and are available frozen in packs of 36. Before serving, simply remove from the freezer, leave for one hour in the refrigerator, plus 15 minutes at room temperature.
Stroll through Paris first thing in the morning, and you’ll see lines of people snaking out of their local boulangeries for their morning bread. That’s because, throughout France, getting up early and buying a baguette is more than second nature; it’s a way of life. According to the Observatoire du Pain (yes, France has a scientific ‘Bread Observatory’), the French consume 320 baguettes every second – that’s an average of half a baguette per person per day and 10 billion every year.
It’s no surprise, then, that France takes its baguettes seriously. In fact, every April since 1994, a jury of experts has been gathering in Paris for Le Grand Prix de la Baguette: a competition to determine who makes the very best in the city.
Each year, some 200 bakers in Paris enter the competition, delivering two of their best baguettes to a panel of expert jurors first thing in the morning. The baguettes are inspected to ensure that they measure between 55-65cm in length and weigh between 250-300g. Less than half of the 400-plus baguettes that are entered into the competition meet these strict criteria and move on to round two: judging.
In the next round, the 14-member jury – which includes culinary journalists, the previous year’s winner and a few lucky volunteers – analyse the remaining loaves based on five distinct categories: la cuisson (baking), l’aspect (appearance), l’odeur (smell), le goût (taste) and the oh-so-French la mie (crumb). A baguette’s crumb should be tender but not damp; spring back when pressed; and exhibit the large, irregular holes that show it has been allowed to slowly ferment and develop flavour.
You could have exactly the same recipe, and if one person is more passionate than the other, they’ll have a better result
Last year’s champion, Mahmoud M’Seddi, was the youngest-ever winner of the annual competition, at age 27. “I was lucky enough to grow up in a bakery,” recounted M’Seddi, as he led me past his irregular, hand-formed loaves at his small Boulangerie M’Seddi Moulins des Prés, in the 13th arrondissement. “I grew up with my parents, as opposed to kids who were in day care or with nannies. I was always in the bakery.”
M’Seddi’s passion for baking is palpable and stems from his father. Originally from Tunisia, M’Seddi’s father arrived in France in the late 1980s while pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. “During his school vacation, he came to Paris to work in a bakery to make some pocket money, and he fell in love [with bread making]. He didn’t finish his studies. Instead, he started working as a baker,“ M’Seddi recounted.
M’Seddi has fond memories of watching his father turn dough into baton-shaped baguettes and working alongside him as a child.
“It was like being a magician,” he recalled. “That’s how I saw myself when I was small, mixing things together. I had so much fun doing it.”
Although his mother warned him against becoming a professional baker because of the gruelling hours and lack of holiday time, M’Seddi decided to join the family business. M’Seddi and his father now run three Parisian bakeries: Boulangerie M’Seddi Moulin des Près, located just south of the picturesque Butte aux Cailles neighbourhood; Boulangerie Maison M’Seddi Tolbiac, a few hundred metres away; and Boulangerie Maison M’Seddi in the 14th arrondissement.
M’Seddi gets up each day at 04:00 to begin preparing the dough for his now-famous loaves, which are made entirely by hand. Fat in shape and lightly caramelised on the outside, they are the epitome of what a truly good Parisian baguette should be.
But he keeps the secrets of his perfect baguette under wraps.
“I won’t tell,” said M’Seddi with a wry smile.
According to 2017 winner Sami Bouattour, baguette perfection is just as elusive as M’Seddi is making it out to be.
“When I was on the jury,” Bouattour said, “it was easy to pick the 10 or 20 baguettes that stood out. But after that, when you’re comparing number three and number eight, the differences are so small.”
For M’Seddi, the magic that makes his baguette stand out from the billions of others consumed in France each year is simple: passion.
“You could have exactly the same recipe,” he said. “And if one person is more passionate than the other, they’ll have a better result. Even if you’ve done exactly the same thing, it won’t be the same. It’s like magic.”
M’Seddi has earned the right to place a large, gold decal in his bakery window advertising his status as a champion of the baguette. But that’s not all. Each year’s winner also has the honour of supplying the president of France with his daily bread – a privilege M’Seddi proudly shared with the public by publishing videos on social media of his early-morning routine toting a basket of fresh baguettes towards the immense Elysée Palace.
Emmanuel Macron is evidently quite passionate about France’s loaf-making legacy: in 2018, the president insisted the French baguette be granted Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Neapolitan pizza, Croatian gingerbread and flatbread from Central Asia already appear on the Unesco list. But according to Macron, “the baguette is the envy of the whole world”.
But while there are few symbols as quintessentially French as the baguette, its status – and quality – have been uncertain in recent years. Beginning in the 1950s, bakers began looking for shortcuts to make baguettes more quickly: relying on frozen, pre-made dough; and baking baguettes in moulds rather than free form. Instead of the crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside loaves that M’Seddi bakes every morning, these pale, doughy baguettes became stale almost the moment they cooled down. By the 1990s, they had become the norm for bakers and Parisians.
“Those bakers at that time were happy,” said Bouattour, as he led me past the fresh loaves at his Arlette & Colette in Paris’ 17th arrondissement. “But it killed our profession.”
In an attempt to save traditional French baguettes from widespread industrialisation, France passed Le Décret Pain (‘The Bread Decree’) in 1993, establishing that, by law, an authentic baguette de tradition must be made by hand, sold in the same place it’s baked and only made with water, wheat flour, yeast and salt. Today, these new ‘traditional baguettes’ make up about half of the baguettes sold in large French cities – and are the specimens judged in the competition that has taken place every year since 1994.
And yet, today, some claim that supermarket bread, far cheaper than loaves purchased at bakeries, is edging artisans out of the marketplace. After all, reports French radio station Europe 1, 1,200 small bakeries in France close every year.
“It’s shameful,” M’Seddi said. “It’s bread. It’s France. You need to buy it in a bakery, where people get up early, where they make it by hand.”
In addition to winning this illustrious competition, Bouattour and M’Seddi have a few other things in common. Both forewent the traditional trade school that many aspiring French bakers enter at age 16. Both have been professional bakers for less than a decade (as has this year’s winner, former engineer Fabrice Leroy). And both are first-generation Frenchmen with what Bouattour euphemistically dubs ‘origins’: family backgrounds from elsewhere – or in their cases, Tunisia.
Evoking one’s ethnic background is taboo in nominally egalitarian France. The government has not collected racial or religious information from its citizens since the 1970s (a policy that stems in no small part from censuses performed during France’s Nazi occupation). But while France’s official political stance is intended to engender equality, its reality of beaches forbidding burkinis and naturalisation offices offering to ‘Frenchify’ new citizens’ names seems to tell those with ‘origins’ one thing: assimilate.
At Arlette & Colette, Bouattour sells a range of breads, pastries and viennoiseries, all made by hand each day and all using certified organic ingredients. “Sometimes we get clients coming in saying, ‘The neighbourhood is full of Tunisians – thank God you guys are here!’” he said, referring to him and his wife, who works alongside him in the bakery. “But we have Tunisian origins too.”
Nevertheless, Le Grand Prix de la Baguette contest does a fairly good job of creating an even playing field for participating bakers, regardless of their backgrounds or experience.
“All the baguettes were numbered, so we had no idea about who we were evaluating,” explained Meg Zimbeck, founder of restaurant review site Paris by Mouth, of her experience as a past jury member. “The biggest potential problem is palate fatigue. We tasted a lot of baguettes.”
Interestingly, before M’Seddi’s victory in 2018, three of the last four years’ winners were also French bakers of African origins.
Djibril Bodian is the baker behind picturesque Montmartre’s Le Grenier à Pain bakery. Also a son of a baker – and a first-generation Frenchman of Senegalese origin – Bodian decided at age 16 to follow in his father’s footsteps. Almost immediately, his bakery school teachers recognised his natural aptitude for the trade.
When I became a baker 22 years ago, no-one thought that a baguette could bring you to the Elysée Palace
“The teacher started using me as a good example, saying to the others, ‘Do it like Djibril!’,” he recalled. “It made me feel recognised, but it also put pressure on me. I didn’t want to disappoint him.”
As a rule, the baker who wins the Le Grand Prix de la Baguette competition is not allowed to compete for the following four years. But after earning the title of Paris’ best baguette in 2010, Bodian said, “I had only one desire: to enter again as quickly as possible. So for four years, while people might have thought I was resting on my laurels, I was already working, trying to improve.”
In 2015, Bodian won the contest for a second time.
“It was an immense pleasure and an honour,” he said, laughing. “But when I became a baker 22 years ago, no-one thought that a baguette could bring you to the Elysée Palace.”
Bodian credits his success to both his Senegalese background and values and his French training.
“I stopped thinking of myself as a foreigner a long time ago, but my origins make me the person I am today,” he said. “We all start with the same tools, the same teachers, but some people are going to understand things differently. That has nothing to do with origins; that’s just talent.”
Bodian, Bouattour and M’Seddi’s stories echo those of France’s 2018 World Cup winning team. Since more than half the roster was comprised of players with African heritage, the victory triggered a national debate over French identity and led many of the team’s players to assertively lay claim to their Frenchness. Much like these players, Bodian notes that the Grand Prix’s participants and results represent France as it is today: a diverse and multicultural country made up of people who are proud to be French.
“Whoever wins the contest is a winner,” M’Seddi said. “He’s a champion, whether he’s descended from immigrants or not.”
And while he brushes off the importance of evoking one’s foreign roots, he does admit that there is a certain element of pride when someone of foreign origin takes top prize.
“That’s someone who’s passionate about French culture, who has become integrated as a French person,” he said. “We need to make people proud to be French.”
What better way to do so than by tearing into a baguette?
While we fight with our neighbours about who “owns” chicken rice or cendol, you would not immediately associate pâtisserie with Malaysia.
Yet earlier this year, Team Malaysia won the coveted World Pastry Cup or Coupe de Monde de la Pâtisseriein Lyon, France.
For Patrick Siau, Tan Wei Loon, Otto Tay, Loi Ming Ai it was an unforgettable experience when the Negaraku was played at the ceremony.
Held every two years, the competition is seen as the Olympics of the pastry world. This year’s final saw 21 teams from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
As the competition celebrated its 30th anniversary, the committee unveiled a new set of rules just to shake things up.
All contestants had to follow one theme that represented Nature, flora and fauna. Following a growing trend for plant-based diets, a vegan dessert was required.
Even the chocolate dessert had to be made with honey, in support of beekeepers.
Lastly, transparent blown sugar creations could only be crafted manually, following in the footsteps of the famous Italian Murano glassmakers.
Each member in the team had specific roles. Siau who is Sunway University School of Hospitality ‘s head chef was the team coach and in charge of fund raising and logistics for the competition.
For Tan and Tay, it was their third time taking part. ”It is one of the toughest competitions in the world,” Tan said.
Tan took charge of the chocolate dessert and sugar art display, while Tay prepared the vegan dessert and chocolate display.
Loi, the newest team member was roped in to carve the ice sculpture. He also prepared the ice cream dessert.
Tan is a veteran who has been in the pastry line for 13 years. Previously he worked in a hotel but now he’s a corporate pastry chef at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia.
For the competition, he presented his chocolate dessert La Nature. After he got the new rules about incorporating honey, he took the hard decision to scrap his chocolate cake recipe. This was despite having tested it more than 20 times.
“Sometimes it is difficult to improve a recipe so I decided to change it completely,” he explained. His drive for perfection was only satisfied after testing it out 40 to 50 times!
“I wanted the taste of chocolate first, followed by honey and lastly, chocolate.” With this in mind, Tan set out to find which type of honey would best suit his creation.
Eventually he chose three types: chestnut, buckwheat and forest honey. He also added a honey liqueur blended with whisky.
All aspects were considered — from how the flavour profile changes when it is cooked to the mouthfeel as the dessert starts to melt.
The dessert had multiple layers: chocolate mousse, chocolate cream, chocolate sponge, ganache that was finished with a chocolate glaze. There was also a streusel base and to give it a refreshing taste, a thin layer of mango and yuzu jelly was added.
In 2017, when Malaysia competed, Tan was the team manager which saw him taking part in the judging. That insight gave him a valuable perspective into what the judges are looking for in a winning creation.
According to Tan, even though creativity is appreciated, it is something that still needs to be reined in. What the judges want is a balance of flavours.
Taking up the challenge to produce a plated dessert that was vegan, the first-ever in the history of the World Pastry Cup, was Tay.
Since young, Tay has always loved buns. This led him to take up a career as a baker. The turning point that drove him to become a pastry chef was when he worked as a volunteer during a Food and Hospitality Malaysia event.
He recalled, “It was my first time seeing a chocolate showpiece and it inspired me to become a great pastry chef in the future.”
That ambition drove him to work at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia. Now, he is based in Vietnam where he is the corporate pastry chef at Dobla Asia.
The plated dessert known as La Floraison takes inspiration from the popular Hong Kong mango, pomelo and sago dessert. It was presented in a cup made from coconut granita.
Inside the cup were layers of exotic cream, almond dacquoise, cubed mangoes, exotic coulis and pomelo. Delicate fronds made from exotic and coconut meringue decorated it.
Since no eggs were allowed, Tay used fermented water from canned chickpeas, known as aquafaba to create the meringue. Tay also elaborated that they tested out the dessert more than 20 times before they managed to hit the taste they wanted.
As one of the rules required a local ingredient, Tay chose to showcase pomelo from Ipoh in his dessert. The tangy fruit helped to give the dessert a refreshing taste, undercutting the richness from the cream.
In fact, Tan revealed that originally they didn’t select pomelo as they didn’t think it was appropriate. It was only after they tasted the combination of coconut and pomelo together that they decided it was competition worthy.
In choosing the right pomelo, Tay tried more than 20 types from a stall in Ipoh before he settled for the right type for his dessert.
Tay is no stranger to using local fruits in his sweet creations. For the 2012 Asia Pastry Cup, he showcased pisang emas, the locally grown finger bananas, which clinched him the prize for best plated dessert.
In the 2014 edition of Asia Pastry Cup, he used the Sarawak pineapple and that creation also scooped up the award for best plated dessert.
At the World Pastry Cup, ice carving was a big challenge so they roped in Loi, a first-timer to the World Pastry Cup competition.
Loi’s foray into the world of pastry started back in his hometown of Kuching when he worked in a bakery. He then joined the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia and became the executive pastry chef there.
Previously he had competed in other competitions but never for this particular competition. It was also his first time doing ice carving!
“Ice carving is one of the hardest to do so he suffered a lot,” explained Tan. Many shy away from doing it as handling a chainsaw can be incredibly scary.
Loi was a natural choice as Tan explained, he had a talent for sculpting and carving. In the beginning, Loi was taught by the ice carving master John Yong who has clinched multiple awards at competitions all over the world.
Since his lessons took place in the afternoon at an ice factory, his first few attempts weren’t perfect! Loi added, “For the first eight to 10 times, it didn’t look like a monkey, sometimes it looked like a donkey or a horse!”
Later, he practised at the academy, sculpting first with styrofoam before he perfected his techniques with an ice block within the two-hour time limit.
The weather also made a difference during the competition since he had honed his skills in our tropical weather. As it was cold in France, his sculpted monkey during the rehearsal was a chubbier version which didn’t melt even after a few days!
Luckily the competition took place in room temperature conditions and there was a warmer which meant the temperature was similar to the air conditioned environment here.
His hard work paid off. At the end, the monkey ice sculpture was placed together with Oto’s chocolate sculpture and Tan’s sugar creation—three monkeys, using various materials. Tan explained the ice sculpture is not usually placed in there so it was a bonus.
Loi was also in charge of the ice cream dessert, La Papillon — raspberry and lychee sorbet in a cylinder-shaped parfait where there are multiple layers of pistachio meringue and vanilla yoghurt ice cream. Topping the dessert was an exquisite handblown butterfly wing while the cylinder featured the other half of the wing.
n terms of taste, he was restricted to using the designated fruit purees in the competition. So he knew he had to ace the presentation in order to impress the judges.
If you cut the cylinder in half, you will notice there’s a flower with five petals, sharply etched out. This, Loi explained, was made using a special mould that he carved himself.
In terms of technique, it’s extremely hard to get the petals sharp edged. Loi tried many times. The cliffhanger was whether Loi would be able to get it right, as Tan said they all thought he would give up. Luckily he kept at it until he succeeded.
Another technique involved spraying the butterfly wing onto the cylinder using natural fruit purees. It took Loi many tests and constant tweaking to get the design right. The design only got confirmed at almost the last minute, just about two weeks before they left for France!
A key factor to the competition is organisation. Tan explained, “Organising is very important in this competition… how we organise our time and the logistics.”
Every method had to be timed perfectly for the competition, down to the last minute. One misstep would have thrown their preparations off. To achieve that, the team constantly practised in an environment set up exactly like the competition kitchen.
As Tay was in Vietnam, he would fly back every weekend to practise with his team-mates. Just before the competition, in December, they managed to get a break from work so they could practise at the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia.
As the Malaysian team was the last to be tasted by the judges after two days, the desserts needed to be light and refreshing “As the judges need to try desserts from 21 countries, it also needed to be memorable,” explained Loi.
Nothing was left to chance. They brought over two pieces of the same equipment, in case one did not work. Since they were used to certain equipment and tools, they brought the same items over via cargo… a whopping 800 kilograms!
Tan recalled how they had a scare in 2015 when certain equipment was left out. Luckily, their girlfriends brought that with them when they flew over later. Still, it was an experience they didn’t want to repeat.
Even the power of prayers was invoked as Tan and his team would often pray in temples. Another ritual was visits to his friend cum mentor, Chef Kong Yik Hong who has since died. Tan credits the late Chef Hong, as he was fondly known, as the one who taught him many sugar art techniques.
For this momentous win, Tan also believes that Niklesh Sharma who set up the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia here had a major role to play.
If he had not set up such a place, pastry arts wouldn’t have advanced as much in the country. Another important element was the guidance from Jean-Francois Arnaud, one of France’s pastry chefs who was awarded the MOF or Meilleur Ouvrier de France, which means best craftsman of France.
As he is familiar with what the judges were looking for, every item was tasted by him. “We were lucky to meet him early in our careers. If he knows a new technique, he will share and he is dead honest about the taste,” said Tan.
While they may be excluded from the next World Pastry Cup (previous winners sit out the next competition), the trio are busy training younger chefs to groom another future champion. “With my generation there was no information. We hope for the next generation, they won’t need to go as far as us to reach the information.” explained Tan.
Most importantly, as pastry chefs they also need to be constantly on the ball. With the title, all eyes are also on them. Tan explained, “In this line, even though you have this title, it does not mean you have everything. If you don’t improve yourself in one year, you will disappear. The trends change too fast in pastry.”
Barry Callebaut introduces Bensdorp Natural Dark – a flavorful, 100% natural, dark cocoa powder
Bensdorp, the premium cocoa brand of Barry Callebaut, introduces Natural Dark, a 100% natural and flavorful dark cocoa powder with a superior taste experience. In a consumer test the new Natural Dark cocoa powder was approved by consumers from all over the world. It enables food manufacturers to deliver a rich and chocolaty flavor in all major applications while offering a clean label.
Bensdorp Natural Dark cocoa powder is being introduced at a time when health-focused consumers are increasingly seeking out premium products that are tasty and have a short, recognizable ingredient list. Bensdorp Natural Dark cocoa powder’s unique alkali-free processing hits all the right notes on rich flavor and the deep dark color consumers prefer while retaining its 100% natural credentials. Thanks to this innovative cocoa powder food manufacturers can now offer dark cocoa creations with intense chocolate taste while having a 100% clean label and natural positioning that hasn’t been possible until today.
The taste palate is a mix of roasted cocoa, spices and a hint of dried fruits giving way to warm notes that blend well with toasted aromas, such as coffee or pecan nuts. Bursting with a rich, chocolaty flavor and premium dark brown color Natural Dark can be used in a much wider range of applications than other natural cocoa powders, delivering a unique sensory experience for chocolate lovers everywhere. Bensdorp conducted consumer tastings with everyday consumers to show that a natural cocoa powder can have a dark color and rich, intense chocolate taste.
Bensdorp is the premium cocoa brand of Barry Callebaut. With close to 180 years of heritage and mastery in crafting the finest cocoa powders, they offer the broadest range of rich flavor and color cocoa powders made with the highest quality standards globally.
Bensdorp Natural Dark will make its debut in the United States at the IBIE trade show, known as the International Baking Industry Exposition, in Las Vegas, NV, September 8-11. The industry will have the opportunity to experience its rich chocolate taste and color in various bakery applications.
In something that seems out of Bizarro World, people are angry over chocolate.
To be more specific, a chocolate’s branding.
Cadbury recently received some backlash for a candy bar they released in India, featuring four different types of chocolate.
The chocolate was meant to promote diversity with it’s blending of white, milk, light and dark flavors in celebration of India’s Independence Day on August 15.
Instead, the British confectionery only collected ire.
“This is everything wrong with diversity,” tweeted one person. “You force in a set amount of predefined difference and it’s going to taste awful. I would rather see a range where you don’t know what you’re going to get, but it’s going to taste amazing whatever it is.”
Another wrote, “You would THINK, if they were going for unity, that all of the types would be interspersed instead of segregated (from light to dark, no less). This is the problem with playing to the woke crowd; you BETTER get it right.”
Legal analyst Imani Gandy tweeted, “This is as absurd as Kendall Jenner fighting police brutality with a Pepsi,” while restaurant critic Tejal Rao wrote, “Congratulations to cadbury for solving racism.”
A handful of users praised the limited edition product, which Cadbury teamed up with Ogilvy to promote.
But many more condemned the advertising.
“India is a diverse country, with people of different castes, creed, languages, regions, religions. Everyone living together, but not always with love,” said Ogilvy in a statement. “Cadbury Dairy Milk, which is loved by everyone, wanted to send a powerful message of unity. So we worked with the brand to create the Unity Bar: India’s first chocolate made of dark, blended, milk and white chocolate — all united in one bar.
Comments Off on Ferrero Completes $1.3 Billion Acquisition of Kellogg’s Cookies and Fruit Snacks Businesses
The Ferrero Group and its related companies (“Ferrero”), announced that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of Kellogg’s cookie, fruit and fruit-flavored snack, ice cream cone and pie crust businesses for $1.3 billion.
The acquired brands represent a portion of Kellogg’s North America snacking business. Specifically, it includes select cookies businesses, including brands like Keebler, Mother’s, Famous Amos, Murray’s, and Murray’s Sugar Free, as well as cookies manufactured for Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
It also includes its Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks fruit-flavored snacks, Stretch Island fruit Strips, pie crusts, and ice cream cones businesses, as well as the manufacturing facilities acquired from Kellogg Company.
Ferrero, which was founded in the northern Italian town of Alba in 1946, is on an aggressive acquisition campaign under the leadership of Giovanni Ferrero, who took over the company following his father’s death in 2015, according to Reuters.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome our new colleagues and brands to Ferrero,” said Giovanni Ferrero, Executive Chairman of the Ferrero Group. “This iconic portfolio of beloved brands is an excellent entry into new strategic product categories for Ferrero.”
Lapo Civiletti, CEO of the Ferrero Group, said, “With this acquisition, we further strengthen our position in the key North American market by adding these iconic brands to our portfolio. We very much look forward to building our journey of growth together.”
The brands will be managed by Ferrara Candy Company, which was acquired by a Ferrero-related company in 2017.
Todd Siwak, CEO of Ferrara Candy Company, added, “This transaction creates a leading snacking platform with enhanced ability to be the growth partner of choice for our customers and win with consumers. We look forward to continuing to leverage our manufacturing, distribution, marketing and go-to-market expertise as we reinvigorate and grow this strong portfolio of brands.”
Kellogg retains the rest of its North America snacking businesses, including its crackers, salty snacks, wholesome snacks, and toaster pastries brands.
Comments Off on Kraft, Mondelez to pay $16m penalty in wheat price manipulation case
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has announced that American food companies Kraft Heinz and Mondelez International will have to pay $16m as penalty over a wheat manipulation case dating back to 2015.
This penalty is allegedly valued to be three times the profit made by the two companies.
Mondelez and Kraft Heinz, which operated as Kraft Foods until 2015, purchased $90m of wheat futures in December 2011.
According to the CFTC, this move gave the firms a leading position in the market, despite never planning to gain possession of the purchased grain.
With the grain purchase, the two firms gave a false signal to the market that there is a demand for wheat. This led to an artificial price fluctuation, which in turn enabled the firms to earn over $5m in profits.
CFTC chairman Heath P Tarbert said: “America is the breadbasket of the world, wheat markets are its heart. Market manipulation inflicts real pain on farmers by denying them the fair value of their hard work and crops.
“It also hurts American families by raising the costs of putting food on the table. Instances of market manipulation are precisely the kinds of cases the CFTC was founded to pursue.”
The two companies refuted CFTC’s statement, which they claim ‘blatantly violates and misrepresents the terms and spirit of the consent order’. They plan to seek relief immediately from the court.
Reuters reported that wheat futures and options traders also alleged that the companies had manipulated the grain’s price illegally, at their expense.