Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jei Grimes Sweeps 3rd Annual Pastry Competition

Pastry Competition 2010

One of the ways The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas fosters and challenges new culinary and pastry talent is through competitions and scholarships.

The Annual Pastry Scholarship and Competition, launched three years ago by Quincy Adams Erickson, took place this past weekend at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts here in Austin.
This year’s grand prize winner is Jei Grimes from Le Cordon Bleu, Austin who received a $5,000.00 culinary scholarship and will have his recipes featured in the Foundation’s online, interactive cook-book, Plate & Vine®.

The two runners-up, Samantha Wiff, and Susan Gofreed, also from Le Cordon Bleu each carried home $1,000 scholarships. The competition encompassed five different pastry challenges, blindly judged by a panel of experts.

The competition is named each year for a Texas Pastry Chef who has made a significant contribution to Texas’ culinary legacy. This year’s honoree was Pastry Chef Philip Speer at Uchi Austin, following last year’s honoree Naomi Gallego formerly of TRIO at the Four Seasons, and the inaugural year’s honoree, Pastry Chef Mark Chapman of Austin. It was hosted at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin (formerly Texas Culinary Academy).

Meet Our 2010 Pastry Winner!

Jason (Jei) Grimes is a North Carolina native with 16 years of industry experience prior to any formal training. His love for food and cooking was sparked by his grandmother, who introduced him to the basics of cooking and fine dining at a young age.

“Coming from the mountains of North Carolina I was not exposed to much,” he said, “…my dream now is to open a confectioner’s shop.” On the cusp of graduation, Grimes feels that he has a firm grasp on both the business side and now the formal pastry training to go alongside it.

Following the competition, Grimes prepares to go to work that evening. As he cleans up his kitchen space he pauses, “I still can’t believe it.” But he won’t be much time for celebrating, “Tomorrow I’ll be right back here. That’s what this is about.”

*** NOTE: Recipes will be featured in the Foundation’s celebrity chef online cookbook, Plate & Vine® (www.winefoodcooking.com). WFFT members receive special discount pricing.


PHILIP SPEER – Uchi, Austin
Speer has been showered with awards and praise locally as well as nationally in Bon Appétit, Cooks Illustrated, and USA Today. He appeared as a judge on the Food Network's "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" as well as part of Chef Tyson Cole's team that competed on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America." Most recently, Speer was named a James Beard Award semi-finalist in the overall pastry chef category.


(Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts in Austin students).

Quincy Adams Erickson – Fête Accompli
Aimee Olson – Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Austin
Pat Sharpe – Executive Editor and Food Editor, Texas Monthly

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pastry Scares Me!

Quincy Adams-Erickson talks about this year's 2010 WFFT Pastry Scholarship Competition

This year will be the third annual Pastry Scholarship Competition, sponsored by The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and in 2010, honoring a Texas pastry legend, Chef Philip Speer of UCHI.

Frankly, pastry is terrifying. In pastry, you have to measure, in pastry you must be exact, in pastry you may not know you’ve made a mistake until the pastry is completely done. In pastry, little sins reveal themselves when you cut into them or taste them…but not before. In pastry, a lot more can go wrong that cannot be fixed. And to fix probably means to start from scratch – literally – and begin again. Like I said, pastry is terrifying.

While I have been a chef for 25 plus years, what I knew of pastry was very little except what I managed to teach myself. And it was terrifying to me. I could never make a cake that was not leaden. My breads would not rise. I never tried to make a pie. My children would ask my friends to make their birthday cakes.

Speed forward many many years. I am now a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, in both pastry and cuisine. After nine months with some of the best pastry teachers in the world, I can do pastry. Slap me again, I can do pastry. Amazing. And fun. So much fun.

Inspired by the amazing pastry chefs in Texas, armed with my newfound awareness of these skills and a greater understanding of the daily work and impeccable technique required, I was no longer afraid of pastry. And I thought it was time for a new culinary competition. One that reveals the perseverance, dedication, skills, and hours (months! years!) of practice required to become a pastry chef. I thought it was time to put the spotlight on those people who faced their fears and took on pastry. And Voila, through the generosity of The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, we are embarking on our third year of competition.

There’s still time! If you’re a pastry student at an accredited culinary school in Texas, we invite you to show us what you’ve got. We’re offering a grand prize of a $5,000 scholarship and the chance to feature your recipes in our Plate & Vine Interactive Cookbook. The two runners-up each receive $1,000 each. Visit http://www.winefoodfoundation.org/pastry and postmark your entries by May 14, 2010. Call 512.327.755 if you have questions. And for everyone else who is still a bit intimidated by pastry, come out on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 to help us crown the winner. Photo ops and interviews with the chefs and judges between 11:00 AM and 11:30 AM. Press conference and scholarship winner announced at 2:45 PM.


Chef Quincy Adams-Erickson
Chair, 2010 WFFT Pastry Competition