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France crowned World Bakery Champion

France crowned World Bakery Champion

A fine double for France at the latest Sirha Europain show in Paris. A trio of French bakers won the Bakery World Cup for the first time in 16 years. Meanwhile, the tandem representing France took first place in the European selection for the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie.


After 16 years of purgatory, France has finally won the “Bread Olympics“, the twelfth edition of the World Bakery Championships…

The country of the baguette was regularly upstaged by other baguette virtuosos, namely the Asian countries. A shame for France, which in 2022 succeeded in having the baguette included on UNESCO’s intangible heritage list…

But this year, a trio of blue-white-and-red bakers, Xavier Sacriste, Franck Fortier and Fabien Nolay, saved the honor at the competition held in Paris during the 25th edition of Sirha Europain, the benchmark trade show for bakery-pastry and snacking. On Monday January 22, 2024, they secured the top spot on the podium, ahead of South Korea and Japan, respectively second and third in the competition…

Know-how and team spirit

Held every two years, the championship pits the world’s best bakery teams against each other. Ten teams, each comprising three competitors, compete for eight intense hours. The aim is to demonstrate both a high level of expertise and a collective spirit, as the pieces are created at the same time by the bakers, who are required to share their equipment in the same room. Four events punctuate the competition: baguette and bread of the world, viennoiserie, bakery restoration and artistic piece.


Artistic “fencer” piece by French team winner of the Bakery World Cup 2024,  Xavier Sacriste © Amélie Percheron via Linkedin
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The last, the artistic piece, is obviously the most spectacular, the participants’ masterpiece… And to shine, Xavier Sacriste, in charge of its realization, was happily inspired by current sporting events, namely the Paris Olympics. Based on the constraints imposed – namely, to reach a height of between 1.40 and 1.60 m and to incorporate five different pastes – he created a sculpture representing a fencer, whose discipline is of course one of those scheduled to take place in the French capital.

The three winners, who trained for a year and a half before the competition, each supported by a coach, don’t necessarily have a classic baker’s background.

Rich backgrounds

A native of Val-d’Oise, Xavier Sacriste has never had his hands in the kitchen of the French delicatessen… However, at 36, he has put his talent to good use in the finest restaurants, where a good dish is expected to be accompanied by a flawless loaf of bread.

With his BEP and vocational baccalaureate in bakery, plus training in pastry-making, he went on to work in some of the world’s top establishments. He worked in London with chef Hélène Darroze, in the United States with Joël Robuchon, and in Lausanne and Valence with Anne-Sophie Pic.


Winners of the 2024 edition of the Bakery World Cup, namely: Xavier Sacriste, Fabien Nolay and Franck Fortier © Frédéric Vielcanet/Sirha Europain

Keen to share his skills with the younger generation, he then became a trainer in 2018 at the Lyfe Institute in Ecully, a culinary arts and hospitality management school. While the bakery championship only allows him to compete once, he doesn’t rule out coaching the future French team in the next edition.

Franck Fortier, 35, from Mayenne and winner of the “baguette and bread of the world” event, also has an unusual itinerary. Having fallen into a sack of flour as a child (his grandfather and two brothers are bakers), after gaining his bakery CAP in 2006, he embarked on a six-year tour of France as a Compagnon du devoir! Today, he teaches the skills of the trade to future bakers at Minoteries du Château (supplier of flour to the sector), based in Ernée (Mayenne). He also runs workshops at Atelier M’Alice, the Girardeau group’s training center for bakery teams and managers.

Finally, Parisian Fabien Nolay is also a trainer at the Ecole de Boulangerie et Pâtisserie de Paris.

A fragile industry

The announcement of the winners drew enthusiastic applause from the public, who turned out in large numbers to sing the Marseillaise as the trophy returned to French soil!

In addition to the pride shown by the winners and the high international profile given to the industry, the championship’s organizers put the award in context with the difficult economic climate. “This first place also serves to encourage the entire industry, which has been weakened by rising energy and raw material prices, recruitment difficulties and falling purchasing power“, they emphasized in a press release.

Double acclaim

As good news rarely comes alone, France was able to boast another title of glory during this latest edition of Sirha Europain: first place for the European selection for the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie.

Representing France, Haruka Atsuji and Jérémy Massing took first place in the chocolate and sugar categories respectively.

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To seduce the senses of the jury of restaurant chefs, Haruka Atsuji and Jérémy Massing, along with the twelve other candidate chefs, had five and a half hours to execute an impressive list of sweets. On the program: three entremets glacés with Capfruit fruit purées, three pastry pieces with Elle & Vire dairy products, eight Valrhona restaurant desserts, two artistic pieces (one in sugar and one in chocolate) and finally, a buffet featuring all these creations!

A Japanese woman in Paris

Haruka Atsuji trained as a pastry chef in Japan. Twice awarded the Trophée Pascal Caffet, she caught the eye of Alain Ducasse, whom she accompanied from 2018 onwards in the opening of seven Japanese boutiques. Since 2021, she has been production manager at Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse in Paris.


European selection for the World Bakery Cup 2024, with first prize going to Franco-Japanese Haruka Atsuji © Sirha Europain

For his part, Jérémy Massing is a…mathematician overcome by the sin of gluttony. Although his initial training should have led him to follow in Euclid’s footsteps, he preferred not to count calories, much to our delight (or misfortune).

An amateur macaroon competition where he distinguished himself revealed his true vocation: he would be a pastry chef. After an apprenticeship with Meilleur Ouvrier de France Franck Fresson, he went on to work in some of the world’s finest hotels (Le Prince de Galles, Le Ritz Paris…). After apprenticing as a BM Pâtissier at the Ducasse school in Meudon in 2020, he became an assistant instructor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie. He had already won the World Vice-Champion title at Sirha Lyon 2023.

See you in Lyon in 2025

In the final 2024 competition, Italy and the United Kingdom finished second and third respectively behind France, in the 7-country European competition.

© Sirha Europain, 2024

The three teams will meet again for the Grand Final of the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie, on January 24 and 25, 2025, at the next Salon Sirha in Lyon.

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Featured Photo: © Sirha Europain, Paris