St. Charles County resident Stephan Schubert wants to be the king of the pastry world, a feat he may obtain after conquering the regional Global Pastry Chef Challenge held in Quito, Ecuador, on Oct. 25.
That victory proclaimed Schubert to be the best of the best pastry chefs of the Americas.
The contest was one of the seven global regional contests sanctioned to select the finalists to compete at the Global Pastry Challenge finals in 2016 in Thessaloniki, Greece.
“I can now call myself Pastry Chef of the Americas and have the chance to take over the world title,” reported Schubert.
Executive pastry chef at River City Casino & Hotel, Schubert won the honor to compete in the global pastry classic after capturing the American Culinary Federation’s crown for Best Pastry Chef in the U.S.
“When I got the email to come to Ecuador to represent the U.S. I couldn’t believe it. It’s such an honor because it’s like the world cup of pastry,” he said.
Winning the Americas title and moving on to compete in the world finals is the icing on Schubert’s professional cake. It highlights a distinguished career for the American born, German-raised chef.
“I started my apprenticeship at 16, which is what you do in Germany,” explained Schubert, whose German father moved the family back to Germany after serving as the executive pastry chef at the Cloister Hotel on Sea Island, Georgia. “Back then I wanted to be an airplane mechanic but after talking to my dad and mom I went into pastry. I’m glad I did.”
After honing his pastry artistry in Switzerland, Greece and Spain, along with serving as executive pastry chef on the Cunard Cruise Line, Schubert made it back to the U.S. in 1997. He worked in a variety of locations such as Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before being invited in 2002 to open Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in St. Charles, a sister operation of River City, which is his current professional home and is also where he refined his entries for the competition.
While defining his chocolate showpiece before last week’s competition Schubert said, “The showpiece entry for this level has to be done in chocolate and reflect the theme of Greece’s tales and legends. I’m geeked [excited] about the theme since I worked in Greece and loved watching Hercules movies as a kid.”
Chef Schubert’s award-winning showpiece was an impressive sculpture towering over 2 feet high and depicting Medusa wrapped around Greek columns, topped with an abstract Greek warrior.
“I wanted to capture the dark side so I thought Medusa and the Kraken. The piece lets me capture realism and display craftsmanship,” Schubert explained.
In addition to a massive showpiece contestants had to present a variety of different desserts that reflected several mandated ingredients, such as Sri Lanka Dilmah Tea. His final creations included chocolate mousse with mango passion fruit sauce, tropical banana coconut compote, Dilmah tea, lemongrass-flavored coconut sorbet and banana raspberry cream in a tuile. The desserts and showpiece had to be completed in six hours – a daunting task made even more nerve-wracking after Schubert’s supplies, which had been shipped two weeks earlier, were held up in customs.
Schubert recounted the week’s rocky start that began with a missed flight connection in Miami to finally arrive in Ecuador only to learn his supplies and tools hadn’t been released by customs.
“I needed to drive through Quito and find everything I needed. If anyone has been in a place like Ecuador, [they know] it’s almost impossible to get these items.”
Thankfully, lady luck and resourcefulness allowed Chef Schubert to work on the fly and improvise. Before leaving, in a moment of foreshadowing, he had remarked, “You have to be organized and be prepared for whatever happens so you can work on the fly just in case something doesn’t make it over.”
Planning and insight is a mark of professionalism as well as a hallmark of a winner. It’s also what defines Schubert, who won against insurmountable odds.
Before he departed for the pastry challenge he was asked how he would celebrate. With a cake and champagne?
“I’m going to celebrate with a nice big steak, French fries and hollandaise,” he said.