by Kevin Richards

The 3rd Annual Tarts aux Fruit competition was held at OCI last night, put on by the Alliance Francaise as a fundraiser. 17 fruit tarts, expertly crafted by a virtual “who’s who” of pastry chefs from the best restaurants and bakeries around town, made it through the doors between 10 AM and 3 PM in time for the judging from 3 PM to 5 PM. The judges were Lead OCI Chef Instructor in the Baking and Pastry program Robert Parks, Philippe Boulot (Heathman and Multnomah Athletic Club), and Pascal Chureau (Allium Bistro). The criteria for judging was appearance, flavor, and technical difficulty, with an emphasis on flavor.

Chef Parks, who developed the curriculum for the baking and pastry program at OCI and teaches the weekend offering of this program, was pleased to be able to host this competition for the third straight year.

“What I really like about this is that our students get to experience it and see what the professionals in town are doing. It gives them a chance to set their sites on where they could go with their own career,” said Chef Parks. “It’s good exposure because these are the heavy hitters in the pastry world in Portland that the students get to hob-knob with.”

In the 2008 and 2009 competitions, there were entries from OCI students. None of the OCI students entered this year because most were not very far along in the program curriculum. The participants, in no particular order, were:

Urban Farmer at The Nines Hotel – Julie Lewis, Sean Sasser
The Heathman Restaruant – John Gaynor
Wildwood Restaurant – Michelle Vernier and Mickala Duprey
Metrovino – Erin Keller
The Original: A Dinerant – Sally Bowers
Sweet Ambrosia – Mary Ambrose
La Petite Provence Boulangerie and Patisserie – Laureen Murtha, Brigit McGraw
Multnomah Athletic Club – Roy Chan
Beaverton Bakery – Tiffany Christy
Ristorante Fratelli – Tim Cuscaden
Fenouil – Kristen Murray, Shawn McKenzie
Chez Joly – Paula Santos
Pix Patisserie – Leila Ellis
St. Honore – Amie Yen

According to Chef Parks, the key elements to a classic French fruit tart are pate sucre (classic crust), pastry creme, and fresh fruit with an apricot glaze. “Underbaked crust, undercooked or loose cream, and overdoing the glaze” was Chef Parks response when asked what the common pitfalls in preparing a successful fruit tart are.

Only five points divided the top three finishers. Here are pictures of the top three tarts, based on the official judging:
#1, by Tiffany Christy of Beaverton Bakery
#2, by Roy Chan of Multnomah Athletic Club

#3 by Michelle Vernier and Mickala Duprey of Wildwood
For more photos of the event, check out pictures on OCI’s Facebook page and OCI’s Flickr page.