The 30th anniversary celebration of the Grand Prix for the best baguette in the French capital took place on Wednesday, where Tharshan Selvarajah, a 37-year-old baker from the 20th arrondissement of Paris, was crowned the winner. The jury, composed of about fifteen members, evaluated 175 candidates in a two-round vote, where each tasted a total of 62 baguettes. Each was graded on five criteria: baking, taste, crumb, honeycomb, and appearance. It had to measure between 50 and 55 cm, weigh between 250 and 270 grams, and have a salt content of 18 grams per kilo of flour.
In addition to earning the right to supply the Elysée Palace and a prize of 4,000 euros, Selvarajah also received a reputation that transcends the borders of Paris. According to Franck Thomasse, president of the Syndicat des bakers, the winner “multiplies his baguette production by at least two.” Selvarajah, originally from Sri Lanka, declared that he never imagined he would one day deliver bread to the French president.
The French baguette, classified as intangible heritage by UNESCO at the end of November, is an “everyday object” and a “very accessible product for everyone,” according to Olivia Polski, deputy to the mayor of Paris, who is organizing the contest in collaboration with the Greater Paris bakers’ union. With its crunchy crust and soft crumb, the baguette is today the most consumed bread in France, where every day more than six billion of them leave the bakeries and twelve million French consumers pass through the door of a bakery.
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