Next Wednesday, local pastry chef Christophe Rull will return to television screens for his third network cooking competition, the new Netflix series “Bake Squad”.
The 36-year-old San Marcos resident won Food Network’s “Halloween Wars” in 2017 and was crowned Food Network’s “Holiday Wars” champion in 2018. But unlike those ultra-competitive shows that have paid off to Rull and his team up to $ 50,000 in cash. , the only prize in “Bake Squad” is to brag. As Rull and the other three contestants aim to win individual rounds, the show’s goal is to build camaraderie and teamwork to please customers in each of the eight dessert-making challenges.
The series is hosted by Christina Tosi, founder of the famous New York-born Milk Bar dessert shop empire. She handpicked the candidates during their auditions last year. Many pastry chefs would get nervous playing in front of Tosi, but Rull didn’t know who she was.
“She was asking me questions and I could tell she knew what she was talking about,” he said. “I asked her if she was a pastry chef because her questions were so specific and she said ‘I have a few stores in America.'”
Rull, a longtime pastry chef at the Park Hyatt Aviara resort in Carlsbad, declined to comment on how well he did in “Bake Squad,” but described the experience as a fun and at times “mind-blowing adventure. “. Rull and fellow bakers Gonzalo Jimenez of Denver, Ashley Holt of Brooklyn, and Maya-Camille Broussard of Chicago compete to create extravagant desserts for events like a teen’s birthday party, wedding, and celebration of the ” I killed the cancer ”.
“It was really tough, every episode,” Rull said. “The main objective was to present the beautiful exhibition at the end of the day. But I think this show will reach people who watch at home. It’s not just about the beauty of the pastries, but also about our personal lives and who we are outside of the kitchen.
For Rull, “Bake Squad” was a warm-up for the cooking contest he had dreamed of all his adult life. In October, he will spend two days in Chicago with three or four other American pastry chefs competing for the honor of representing the United States at the World Chocolate Masters event in Paris next year. National master chocolatiers from 20 or more countries will compete in a grueling, multi-day competition that no American has ever won. Rull is hoping he, or one of his US semi-finalists, will finally break that streak next year.
Rull has gained some local fame in recent years with the massive chocolate sculptures he creates each holiday season for the lobby of the Park Hyatt Aviara resort. One year, he made a 250-pound Christmas train from molded chocolate, which is an edible “clay” made from chocolate and corn syrup. Another year he made an 11 foot high Christmas village with chocolate, gingerbread, marshmallows and frosting.
To prepare for the semifinals, Rull took time off from Park Hyatt to focus on training and techniques in the kitchen at the San Marcos home he shares with his wife, Wilma, and stepson. 16-year-old Byron.
“It’s been a dream since the start of my career. there are pastry jobs everywhere, but there is only one global chocolate master. I want to focus fully on this for the next two months, ”he said.
Compared to competing in a TV series, where Rull said his strategy was to keep it “simple, stylish and tasty,” he expects the semi-finals to be the toughest challenge he has. never met.
“Every minute counts and every move you make is watched and judged. The pressure is much higher, ”he said.
Rull was born and raised in Marseille, France, where his grandfather was a bread maker. He started cooking alongside his father as a little boy, where he went from peeling carrots and potatoes to preparing family meals at the age of 12. After high school, he spent four years in cooking schools, where he began to prefer the art of pastry.
“I liked the artistic side of it,” he said. “You can be more creative with baking because you can turn up the volume and turn up the volume in ways you can’t do with other dishes. “
He completed his training at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie in Yssingeaux, France, then worked at a series of European beach resorts before moving to the United States in 2009 for a founding pastry chef position at the Aria Resort. & Casino in Las Vegas. It was there that he helped assemble the largest centerpiece of his career, a hanging mobile of 20 sugar sculptures that came down from the ceiling as a closing dinner at a gala for the Michael Jordan Foundation.
Looking ahead, Rull said he’s not sure what his culinary future holds for him, but has no desire to leave the area.
“I love my life here in San Diego,” he said. “Whenever I have free time I’m on a surfboard and I love the good weather. I don’t plan on leaving San Diego anytime soon.
“Bake Squad” in preview on Netflix.com Wednesday August 11. All eight episodes will be released at the same time.