Kaohsiung baker Wang Peng-chieh (王鵬傑), who early last month was awarded the international Master de la Boulangerie title, said he used to despise baking, because his family forced the trade on him.
To rebel, he joined a local temple dance troupe and brawled with other temples as one of the Eight Generals (bajiajiang, 八家將), Wang said at a National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism event on Monday last week.
Years later, he would win the coveted award for his nearly life-sized bread titled Infernal General, one of the eight generals in a traditional temple troupe.
Photo: Hung Chen-hung, Taipei Times
“I despised making bread. Bread stole my childhood,” he said, adding that since elementary school, his father made him help in the bakery each day after class.
Later, he took the college entrance exam and was disappointed that he qualified for the Kaohsiung university’s baking school.
While training, he realized that he was good at baking, and that it enabled him to compete, Wang said. “I’m a showman and competitions give me an audience.”
Wang’s baking took him to France this year for the prestigious Masters de la Boulangerie competition.
The theme in the artistic bread making category required contestants to reflect a unique aspect of their national culture, which immediately made him think of the Eight Generals, Wang said. “They are my most vivid memory from my youth.”
The bread had to taste good, look beautiful and measure 160mm tall and 110mm wide, much larger than in previous years.
The larger size allowed him to make better use of flavors and ingredients grown by Taiwanese farmers, such as roses, strawberries and lychees, he said.
Wang said one panelist was moved to tears after seeing the Infernal General, telling him: “Thank you for participating for Taiwan.”
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