Fukuoka College of Culinary Arts Takes Top Prize at 7th Annual Coup Jikei Contest

The nine schools from the Jikei Group of Colleges Food Culture Education Subcommittee took part in the 7th Annual Coup Jikei Contest held at Tokyo Belle époque College of Confectionery and Culinary on November 12, 2016. Each school selected two students to represent their institution, with 18 students in total (including one international student from Indonesia) participating in the contest. Each pair of students applied the skills acquired at school and worked together as a team in an effort to secure the Coup Jikei Cup. The students faced the challenge of creating a pièce montée using Japanese decorative confectionery as a symbolic design and an entremet, all within the space of the six-hour competition. The pièce montée could be no higher than 45 cm on a pedestal measuring 30cm by 30 cm, and the size of the entremet was 18 cm with the cost of the raw ingredients limited to less than 50% of the 6000 yen retail price. The theme of the contest was “gift,” and the students went about creating their confectioneries based on this theme as if they had received an actual order from a customer.


The opening ceremony began at 8:30 on the day of the contest, and the students immersed themselves into the competition in the practical training room from 9:15 to 15:30 with a 30-minute break. The four judges were from the industry’s top echelon of pâtissiers. Four of the industry’s top pâtissiers acted as judges, and they remained in the training room with the students for the entire six hours, observing the students’ skills as pâtissiers. The judges watched the students closely, observing their technical skills along with their effective use and management of ingredients, communication with their partner, hygiene management, and cleanliness and tidiness of the kitchen area–all of which are essential skills for pâtissiers.


But the students and the judges were not the only ones absorbed in the competition for six hours. The faculty members, older students, and parents were on the other side of the training room’s glass walls watching intently throughout the competition as the students made their confectioneries. The contest was also broadcast live on Ustream and was watched by more than 4,700 people, including students and faculty members at Jikei Group schools across Japan.


Once the six hours were over, the student teams presented their completed pièce montée and entremet to the judges. The judges visually evaluated both the pièce montées and entremets with the discerning eye of a professional, and then sampled the entremets the students had prepared. The evaluations and advice the students received from the judges proved to be the most valuable for the students. Everyone at the school was deeply grateful to the judges for making the time to judge the contest.


After the student presentations were finished around 18:00, the judges conducted a general evaluation of the entries. The awards ceremony then started at 18:45. The top prize was awarded to Ms. Asuka Suenaga and Ms. Maria Ikenaga from Fukuoka College of Culinary Arts. The women, both in the same year of study, said that they created their entries while imagining that they had received a request from a friend to make that person a birthday cake. When the names of the winners were announced, the faculty members were even more overwhelmed with emotion than the students and burst into tears. The sight left quite an impression. This was the first win for Fukuoka Culinary, and everyone from the school was overjoyed. The runner-up prize went to Ms. Yurie Nishimura and Ms. Asuka Takeda from Sendai College of Communication Arts. Although they had only taken second place by a narrow margin, this was the first runner-up prize, and the two students and the faculty members were visibly pleased.


At the closing ceremony, the judges had some words of advice for the students, which were frank yet filled with warmth and encouragement. The judges offered a joint statement saying, “The level of students in this competition increases with each year. The students taking part in the contest are different each year, yet the quality of confectioneries the students from each school submit improves every year. The instructors teaching the classes should be proud.”


Mr. Tadashi Yanagi, a chef who has been a judge in the competition since the first year, also had some advice for the students saying, “There are always opportunities for professional patissiers in other countries. There are opportunities for professionals to take part in overseas competitions as well as to act as consultants in Asian countries and engage in a variety of exchange activities. Professionals should be able to communicate directly with people overseas in English or read English publications in these types of situations. I hope that students will also study English while they are in school.”


The industry needs pâtissiers who can work globally. The education provided by our schools will need to evolve more and more.