¿Why and how to get prepared for professional pastry contests? On the Pastry Connection conference from May 3, Sandra Ornelas and Andrea Dopico shared their experiences through the different methods and tips that have worked for them.

Whether it is a national or an international contest, participating in a gastronomy competition, as well as in sports, requires the preparation and training of a champion. It requires previous investigation, environment analysis, personal organization tools, coaching, tests, and the look for sponsorships. The chefs explained to us step by step the methodology of these actions.

  • INVESTIGATION: As previous knowledge, the chef Andrea Dopico shared with her investigation questions. It is important to know well: “what type of competition it is? How much time and effort are needed? What are the strong and weak points of the competition? What are the competition rules? What are the winning creations of previous competitions and the participants? What does the jury value? What would be the best strategy to win the competition?”

In addition, Sandra Ornelas gives us a piece of advice: “Do not sacrifice the things you like for what the jury wants, but adapt to their potential requirements, up to what point can you risk yourself?”

  • ANALYSIS AND ACTION PLAN: after the previous investigation the analysis stage begins. Sandra Ornelas recommends developing a SWOT matrix, analyze your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and possible threats. Also, it is important to have realistic objectives: what can I achieve? What are the economic resources I’ll need? And on this way determine the best action plan. In order to develop this plan, the inspiration phase it’s very important (stablish the topic, document, do brainstorming and moodboards), after this comes the exploration phase (evaluate ideas), and then the execution phase (develop the creative idea, run tests, experimentation, choose the idea that best adapts to our project). Each stage is going to ley us solve little by little the technical problems that could show up, with the objective of avoiding them in the day of the competition. Also, the support of a coach to motivate, support and constructively criticize our work it’s very recommended. What is more, the chefs advise us to use organization and planification tools like retroplanning, Trello or Meistertak for:

  1. Position different tests on real situations.

  2. Anticipate the preparation of material and organize the order of tasks for the day of the contest. These have to be based on the rules and times of the competition, which are crucial in these types of contests.

Moreover, as Andrea Dopico mentions, one of the keys to success is to: “Train yourself in harder situations than the ones you’ll be on the day of the competition”.

  • SPONSORSHIP MANAGEMENT: the look for a sponsor must begin as soon as possible. It is important to develop a proposal that will be benefitial for both parts, like offering to create recipes or give courses for the sponsor brand. You have to take into account that your sponsors are not competition of the brands that are sponsoring the contest. It is also important to look for a sponsor that has a philosophy and values similar to yours.

  • DURING THE COMPETITION DAY: this is a day with a lot of adrenaline and nervousness. Which is why, it is moment to put all this energy in performing your work better than ever. All the time you put in getting ready will give you a strong preparation base, that will allow you to have a lot of confidence during that day. It is important to have a “ritual”, disconnect yourself from the outside world, and make everything by memory; your gestures, everything must be like a choreography: you have to respect the method and make it fast and clean. Moreover, it is important to show a calmed and controlled attitude, your jacket must be extremely clean, to have an elegant presence and the education to arrive and say hi to the rest of the competitors. All of these are the basis that will help you to demonstrate your confidence and to destabilize your opponents.

  • SUPPORT FOR YOUR CAREER: as Andrea Dopico mentions, “it is not only to win or get a medal, but also to give a good impression to the whole pastry industry that is looking at you. It is like an intensive course of professional growth.”

The preparation for a contest is a growing process in a professional level as well as in a personal one. It will always be an enriching experience. On this aspect, Sandra Ornelas mentions that as long as “more women compete and show their work, as long as more people are seeing and listening them, this will allow them to progress in the industry.”


   Aurélie Renou, Brand Manager for República del Cacao in Europe