Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2014

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 53 of 87

THIS IS A STORY OF AN IMAGINATIVE BOY from Northern France. The son of a university professor and a high-school teacher, he was drawn to the kitchen—at age four, he professed his dream of becoming a great pastry chef like his hero, Pierre Hermé. Neither his parents nor his older brother had much interest in food, though his mother had her specialties. Victor Delpierre, however, cooked every day after school. "I don't know why," he says, "but it's something in me." He's tall and lean, with rust-colored hair and an impish grin. At 27, he's self assured and sociable, intellectual one moment and the life of the party the next. He's still most at home in a finefoods setting, but he's branched out from pastry to cocktails and service—not to mention coffee. As his trainer and dear friend Victor struggled in his early teens; like so many adolescents, he felt like an outsider. "I was criticized by my peers because I was so different," he says. "I was very tall with red hair, very ambitious and a better and better student every year. I was out of the box." Between the ages of 10 and 14, he says, he "felt quite alone." He did have one friend though—Romain, the one who traveled to Nice to watch him win the WCIGS Championship. "He has been my best friend since the age of 13," Victor says. "He [understands] me as I am." Kids have all kinds of coping mechanisms when it comes to the social strife of being a teen. For Victor, it was competing, specifically cycling. It empowered him. Suddenly, he says, "I was liked by everybody!" It was short-lived, however; At 15, Victor left his hometown of Calais and moved to Le Torquet Paris Plage to study "I would love to better establish the barista culture into the gastronomic circle because I think that today, in addition to being the last touch of an excellent meal, [quality coffee] is as essential as the quality of the wine or the cuisine we serve to our customers." Michael McCauley says, "Victor is not the type to let grass grow under his feet." Victor has an energy and a rare humility that comes with being both a kid who was picked on by bullying peers, and one who goes on to win almost every competition he enters: Maitre d'hôtel French Champion Worldskills France (2007); Best Mojito Paris (2011); French Cycling Corporate Championship (2012); French Coffee In Good Spirits Championship (2013). On the French Riviera last summer, he won his biggest title yet: World Coffee In Good Spirits Champion, at the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe's World of Coffee event in Nice. To relax and celebrate, he joined friends, including Michael, at a hillside villa for a pool party the next day. Watching Victor chat with guests, steal away to make an inspired drink, and toast his mother and best friend who had come to Nice to cheer him on, Michael tells me, "He was born for this." 54 barista magazine cuisine and hotel-restaurant management for five years before embarking on his apprenticeship. "Those were the worst years of my life," he says. "I didn't have the opportunity to study as a pastry chef because my teachers decided that it would be a waste. For them, I was too good of a student at school to become a pastry chef! Fortunately, my parents told them that it was my dream since I was a child, so we found a compromise. I started studying as a waiter, chef, and hotel manager." His involvement with cycling fell to the wayside during this time: "I couldn't take the time to train anymore," he says. "I decided to devote all of my time to school to become somebody important… My excessive motivation comes from this period. My nature is to be totally [dedicated] in what I love to do. I can't help it, but I will never stop working hard." In May of 2013, Victor traveled with Michael to Milan to attend DC Campus, which is a three-day workshop and team-building ses-

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