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Warm work wins cold cash for JWU teacher

“Bake someone happy” is an old commercial jingle. Harry Peemoeller, an associate instructor at Johnson & Wales University's Charlotte campus, managed to bake himself very happy this weekend of the National Bread and Pastry Championship.

Peemoeller and his team partner, sugar expert Sadruddin Abdullah, won the overall first prize, as well as top honors in bread and baguette and the Viennoiserie (Danish) category. The two will split the first prize, $10,000.

This was Peemoeller's first major competition, and he says he practiced for 10 to 12 hours every day except Sundays all summer. “Placing first, I didn't dare dream it.”

His partner, Abdullah, is a former JWU instructor. The championship, held Sept. 21-22 in Atlantic City, is the only competition that pairs a baker and a pastry chef to showcase both pastry and bread art.

Peemoeller created a bread sculpture shaped like the Greek muse of music that he named Euterpe. In the competition, each team has to create a bread showpiece, a pastry showpiece incorporating sugar and chocolate, two types of bread and a pastry tasting menu. Practice sculptures he has been making over the summer have sometimes been displayed in the window of the baking lab at Johnson & Wales, at the corner of Cedar and West Trade streets.

Peemoeller won't have time to consider how to spend his winnings. JWU spokesperson Melinda Law says he'll be busy making breads and Bavarian pretzels for the Charlotte Shout Culinary Arts Experience, held Friday and Saturday on the campus grounds on West Trade Street.