One of Edmonton’s most popular bakeries has had a chance to shine on the international stage after taking part in a popular French cooking show.
Duchess Bakeshop co-owners Giselle Courteau and Jake Pelletier, along with colleague Sarah Gallagher, were among 16 teams from France, Morocco, Australia and Japan on reality TV show Le Meilleur pâtissier — Les Professionels.
Courteau isn’t sure why BBC France asked them to try out for the production last fall, but suspects they were helped by a 2012 National Post article extolling the Duchess’ virtues.
They had to pass a trial first, in this case filming themselves creating a chocolate sculpture up to one metre high (they made a giant mixer) on Thanksgiving Sunday, one of their busiest weekends of the year.
By November, they’d received the call from the producers — who are also behind The Great British Bake Off — and were at the shooting site in a rural French castle.
In the first competition, the Duchess group and three French teams had to make 150 cakes in four hours using lemon as the main ingredient.
“The ingredients are a little different, the pan sizes are different,” Courteau said Monday.
“(It was) really hard. We’re used to production at the bake shop, but we couldn’t plan ahead. We had to figure that out on the spot. We were literally running to the last second.”
Courteau, a Franco-Albertan, was the only fluently bilingual team member and had to handle most of the on-air conversation with the judges, all top chefs including Pierre Herme, whom she calls “the king of pastry.”
The Edmonton trio was among the three teams that made it to their show’s second round, in which competitors made an artistic showpiece and revamped a classic pastry.
“We try to keep things more modern. We try to keep things a little playful. We don’t live in France,” Courteau said.
“I think our playfulness comes out on the TV show. I think they liked us. We were having fun. We had smiles on our faces … We weren’t competing against other teams. We were just trying to see if we could do this challenge.”
While the Duchess representatives didn’t make it to the finale, they did receive a free trip to France for the shoot.
The two-hour show, seen on average by more than three million viewers internationally, is being broadcast Monday and will be available online in French.
Courteau, who is finalizing details of a free public viewing party of the show with English subtitles June 11, said they’re proud of their work.
“We did the best we could. If we were more familiar with the ingredients and the venue and weren’t jet lagged, maybe we could have gone through to the finale.”