MONTREAL — Laurent Agliata jokes he has flour, not blood, running through his veins.
And beginning Sunday, the third-generation baker from Montreal will get a chance to prove it as he and his 22-year-old son Damien represent Canada at the three-day World of Bread contest in Nantes, France.
Teams representing 18 countries will have just under nine hours to produce a variety of different products in four different categories: bread, pastry, sandwich and an “artistic piece” that represents their country’s national identity.
The fact no Canadian has ever won the contest doesn’t worry Laurent Agliata, a 48-year-old French native who has lived in Canada since 2002.
“It’s a great adventure and a nice experience for me and my son, but competing with 18 countries the ultimate goal is to bring back a trophy for Canada,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
The Agliatas have already spent more than 400 hours preparing for the contest, in addition to their regular duties as a head baker (Laurent) and head pastry chef (Damien) at an artisinal bakery in the Montreal area.
Competitors will be judged on a variety of criteria including taste, nutrition, technique, hygiene and presentation.
While he can’t discuss the specifics of what they’ll be submitting, Agliata says he and Damien will be adding Quebec and Canadian touches to their entries.
“We wanted to incorporate products from all the provinces, including Quebec, where we’re using several products from the region,” he said.
As for their artistic piece, Agliata said they worked with someone in France to come up with a concept that represents the “past, present and future” of Canada.
Each team is composed of one baker over the age of 25, one 22 or younger, and a coach.
The opportunity seemed tailor-made for the father-son pair, who are third- and fourth-generation bakers.
Agliata said it would be unthinkable for him to ever consider any other career, and Damien appears to feel the same way.
“As we say in French, the student is surpassing the master, because he has a creativity and a range in the profession that is really impressive,” the father said with obvious pride.
For several years, the two men have worked at L’Amour du Pain bakery, which has three locations in the Montreal area and will open a fourth later this fall.
Didier Legue, the operations director and production director, says the company uses local flour and ingredients, some of which have been shipped to France for the contest.
He said the contest submissions will include Quebec blueberries, cranberries and maple syrup, as well as healthy breads made with lupine flour, white quinoa and chia seeds.
In a phone interview, he said the Agliata family’s passion for their craft would give them an edge in the contest.
“It flows in their blood from three and four generations,” he said. “They’ve been baking all their lives.
“The love of the work, the love of the dough they’re putting together will give them a good chance.”
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
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