Baking with the World’s Best: JWU Team Competes in Munich


A team of JWU Charlotte baking & pastry students and instructors recently traveled to Munich to compete in the IBA Cup, one of the world’s most prestigious baking competitions.

Taking place every 3 years at IBA, a leading baking, confectionery and snack trade fair, the championship challenges bakers from 12 countries to create exquisite breads, small pastries and showpieces.

This year’s Team USA consisted of Associate Instructor Ed Batten and Natasha Rasmussen '18. In addition, team mentors Harry Peemoeller (who won silver at the 2012 Paris Coupe du Monde) and Baking & Pastry Arts Chair Amy Felder traveled to Munich to assist.

"It’s surreal knowing that I’ve competed with the best of the best of 11 other countries."

The duo created a 4-foot-tall bread showpiece inspired by Star Trek (this year’s theme was “Universe”), 5 Danish breads and 4 savory “party” breads during their 7-hour time limit. Some obstacles they had to deal with included no air conditioning, having to prep some items in a small motel room on a hotplate, and ingredient lists that were in German.

Although they didn’t make the podium, Batten called it a wonderful and crazy experience. “Competition at that level — one mistake can alter how you finish. The best part for me were the skills I gained through practicing and being able to work with a senior student. We learned from each other.”

Rasmussen shared her own experience of preparing for and competing in the IBA Cup:

Natasha Rasmussen '18: I attended extra classes for bread baking on the weekends with Chef Peemoeller and a group of other students. When the competition started to approach, he, luckily, chose me for the team.

We trained 6 days a week for 10 hours a day during the summer. We developed and perfected our products and performed timed run-throughs.

The convention was larger than life! High-tech machinery and delicious food was everywhere. Doughnuts seemed to be a trend and the state-of-the-art bakery food trucks were fascinating. The coolest thing I tried was the virtual reality tours of bakeries around the world.

We had an hour set up the day before our 7-hour run. It was definitely difficult to work in an unfamiliar kitchen, and there were some bumps along the way. We had to borrow scales and substitute ingredients, but even so we got most of it finished and on the table.

It is surreal knowing that I’ve competed with the best of the best of 11 other countries. It’s shown me that I still have a lot to learn and has motivated me to keep working on my goals. I would definitely love to keep competing in the baking and pastry world.