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Pastry Chef of the Year, Roy Fares. We don't think the medal was made of chocolate. Photo: Årets Konditor
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Roy Fares hard at work. Photo: Bertil Ericson/SCANPIX

Meet Sweden's new pastry chef of the year

"My life went through my brain in one minute"
10 min

If you like chocolate, cakes and biscuits, then the place to be was the recent annual Swedish pastry chef and cake-baker's competition. Five of Sweden's top chefs were selected to take part, and in the middle of the Nordic Museum's huge hall they prepared their cakes and sweets under the huge spotlights under the watchful eye of the all important jury.

The winner was 26-year old Roy Fares, from Stockholm.

The theme this year was Fairy Tales, and the contestants had had free hands to bake a cake to fit the theme, they also had to bake a new version of a classic Swedish biscuit of their choice, and then they had a blind test, they were given a bag of ingredients, and told to make another Swedish biscuit, the chocolate biskvi.

Former champion Lee Newby, who himself won the competition a decade ago, and was the one handing out small tasters of the cakes on show to those of us in the press, says there is one word to describe how the chefs are feeling. "Stress", he says.

The competition is run by the Swedish association for bakers and pastry chefs. It started off over a decade ago as a rather small-scale affair, but has grown in both size and prestige since then. The organisation's head, Martin Lundell, says the competition is important for several reasons, not least because it encourages healthy competition and on-the-job training for the country's pastry chefs.

Head juror Tony Ohlsson, himself a top chef, says the prize can have a huge impact on the winner. Four of the competition's past winners were involved in baking the wedding cake for this year's Royal Wedding between Crown Princess Victoria and Price Daniel. For this year's winner it could mean book deals, tv appearances and a much higher national profile.

Winner Roy Fares chose the theme "Aladdin" for his competition entries, quite fitting, as his background is from Lebanon. His cake was a marvel of chocolate, peach, sponge, pistachios and rosewater, a real taste of the Middle East.

He says that he had been planning what to bake since the Summer, and hoped that the victory would now open new doors for him. "It's not a vacation", he says, "If you want fame because you are good, then you need to work on that too. It's going to be hard work, all the way through the next year".

And what makes the perfect cake? "Sweet, a little fruity-tasting, nuts, I like to have a little crisp feeling, chocolatey... just like mine", he says with a smile.

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