Pastry Team UK has won sixth place at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France, its highest ever result.
Italy came first (winning €21,000, a trophy and gold medals), Japan was second (winning €12,000, a trophy and silver medals), and USA was third (winning €6,000, a trophy and bronze medals).
The UK team was comprised of Barry Johnson (principal chocolatier at Rococo chocolates, team captain, and on chocolate), Javier Mercado (pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu school, on sugar), and Andrew Blas (executive pastry chef at Hotel Café Royal in London, ice).
The UK team result is a significant improvement on its 9th place position in 2013 and 2011, and marks its highest ever placement in the competition.
Valrhona chocolate, a frozen fruit dessert, and plated desserts, also along themed lines.
Italy's winning creations were influenced by Disney's Peter Pan; Japan's was inspired by traditional-style magic (using symbols such as playing cards and a top hat); and the USA's work demonstrated well-known motifs of the American Wild West.
The results were announced yesterday (Monday) evening at the Coupe du Monde awards ceremony at the Eurexpo venue in Lyon, France, after a gruelling two-day contest which saw 21 teams compete. As well as familiar countries - such as the top three â' Guatemala, the Philippines, and Algeria also presented teams for the first time.
The contest was not without its problems: for example, the Italian team suffered significant losses to its entry after part of its sugar sculpture broke and shattered over its chocolate plates; and Team UK lost a "leg" and suffered various breakages on its sugar creation. Similarly, the UK ice sculpture snapped in half when it was moved, requiring Andrew Blas to rebuild it in several pieces as opposed to the originally-planned single block.
Team UK had been hoping for a better result than last time, and especially wanted a top seven position. Their 6th place now means they are automatically entered into the 2017 competition, and therefore do not need to spend time and money competing for a place via the qualifying European Championships (they came first in the 2014 European event).
They had previously told The Caterer that they had high hopes for the result, but had also been characteristically realistic about their chances, saying anything above 9th would be positive.
Commenting on the final result, team captain Barry Johnson said: "I feel ecstatic. I wasn't expecting to come sixth. We all had challenges during the day, but we stuck to our guns, and we didn't give up, right to the end. If you'd said to me this morning that we would come sixth, I'd have laughed."
Blas added: "It feels amazing! It's absolutely unreal. To get sixth place makes it all worth it."
UK sugar sculptor Javier Mercado said: "I'm happy it's over! I was nervous, because the piece was very fragile. But I'm just happy that everything worked out. In the end, I tried to do the piece for everyone, not only me. I wanted to leave the competition with something outstanding."
Team president Martin Chiffers, who also helped judge the overall event alongside 20 other international judges, said: "It's the best ever for the UK. Now we'll have more time to practise and we'll have more money [because we don't have to go to the European Cup], and next time we'll try for the podium. It went well, and I'm ecstatic."
Johnson added that the result had proven that UK pastry has a real competition future.
The Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie was founded in 1989 by Gabriel Paillasson, as a patisserie counterpart to the Bocuse D'Or competition. Both events are held at the French SIRHA show for food, drink and equipment.
The full results, including points for each country, will be announced in the next issue of the Caterer.
1st place: ITALY (â¬21,000, a trophy and gold medals)
Emmanuele Forcone, sugar; Francesco Boccia, chocolate; Fabrizio Donatone, ice
2nd place: JAPAN (â¬12,000, a trophy and silver medals)
Kazuhiro Nakayama, sugar; Junji Tokunaga, chocolate; Shinichi Sugita, ice
3rd place: USA (â¬6,000, a trophy and bronze medals)
Scott Green, sugar; John Kraus, chocolate; Joshua Johnson, ice