World Chocolate Master 2011 brought to you by Bottomless Tummy
Sunday, October 23, 2011

Last Thursday, both Anglo classes spent a day at the Salon du Chocolat, an annual trade show for the international chocolate industry. It’s a 3-day event running from October 19th – 21st at the Paris Expo (Metro: Porte de Versailles). The venue for the event was divided into two floors. The ground floor was reserved for professionals while the second floor was open to public.

The Salon du Chocolat at the Paris Expo (Metro: Porte de Versailles).

And of course, we got access to the ground floor. There were demonstrations, and companies and businesses in the chocolate industry promoting their products which ranged from the raw material (cocoa beans) to chocolate, baking ingredients, molds, packaging, equipment, and machinery. But more importantly, this was where the competition for World Chocolate Master 2011 was taking place!

The second floor (public) had an entrance fee (€10) but it was easily justified by all the samples you get to eat. There must have been over 50 booths set up by famous chocolate, pastry, and confectionary shops mostly from France. This was a very good opportunity to try chocolates from different shops all in one place and at the same time. Just a tip, you might want to bring a bag of chips to balance out all the sweets you’ll be eating.

Angle B, my class with our Chef in the middle.

Prior to this event, I was really looking forward to just eating chocolate, taking advantage of all the sampling, and that was about it. I wasn’t too interested in the competition but that all changed when I got to see firsthand all the action that was going on for the World Chocolate Master 2011. I enjoyed it so much that my friends and I decided to come back the next day to continue watching the third and final day of the competition.

The competition area. There were close to 50 different journalists and media groups covering the event from around the world. The hosts announced that their were over 40,000 unique viewers watching the competition live on the internet.

It was so inspiring to watch the contestants build these incredible works of edible art right in front of my eyes. They have dedicated their lives to perfecting their skills and expanding their knowledge in pastry and chocolate making. To quality for the competition, each contestant  had to win the title of National Chocolate Master in their own country or region. There were a total of 19 contestants. For statistics, the average age for contestants is 33 and average years of chocolate and pastry experience is 12.

The jury panel. One member is selected from each of the participating 19 countries. They are made up of celebrity Chefs, chocolate masters, and previous winners. Each jury member will not be able to evaluate the contestant representing their own country.

For the competition, each contestant must make the following 6 products:  hand dipped pralines, a chocolate pastry (cake), a gastronomic chocolate dessert, a chocolate Aztec necklace, moulded pralines, and a large artistic chocolate showpiece. The theme of this year’s competition is cacao, the gift of Quetzalcoatl. You can click on the theme for more information about it.

The large artistic chocolate showpieces were all made on the first day so I didn’t get to see these. For day 2 and 3, the contestants were split into 2 groups. Each group would make all the remaining competition requirements in one day.

For the pralines, each jury member is presented with a plate of 2 chocolates from every contestant. These are the hand dipped pralines.

These are some of the moulded pralines form the contestant. Sadly, I did not get to try one.

For the chocolate pastry (cake) component, the competitor would first present their pastry to the panel and then it would be weighed to make sure it was under 1.2kg. Then, it would be cut into equal slices by the Presidents of the Jury and finally served.

Some of the jury members are very serious, taking their time to analyze every little aesthetic detail, smell, textures, flavours, and even the sound of the first cut.

Others like to chat and discuss things with their fellow jury members.

For the plated gastronomical desserts, each contestant made 7 plates. 2 jury members would share each dessert plate.

Plated gastronomical desserts.

The most intense moment (I missed the day of large chocolate showpieces) I got to witness was the transportation of their necklaces from the working table to the display and judging area. Each contestant was allowed an assistant to help.

The Canadian team, choosing to transport the necklace on the bust and stand in complete form.

The U.S. team, also choosing to transport their necklace on the bust and stand in complete form. Unfortunately, this one didn't make it to the judging area and shattered within 1 metre of where I was standing. I must have shed a tear for the guy.

The Australian team transporting her necklace on the bust without the stand.

The Japan team, also choosing to transport his necklace on the bust without the stand.

Display of necklaces from the group of contestants on Day 2.

Mexico, represented by Luis Robledo.

Spain, represented by Sylvain Bortolini.

Germany, represented by Jana Ristau. She is the youngest contestant (only 23 years old) ever to participate in the competition and she also took home 1st place for the chocolate necklace category.

Denmark, represented by Palle Sørensen.

UK, represented by John Costello.

Japan, represented by Yoshiaki Uezaki.

Australia, represented by Seung Yun Lee.

Lebanon, represented by Damien Deslandes.

Switzerland, represented by Claudia Schmid.

Belgium, represented by Ryan Stevenson.

Iceland, represented by Asgeir Sandholt.

Canada, represented by Veronique Rousseau from Quebec.

Eastern Europe represented by Mariusz Buritta from Poland.

Russia, represented by Alexander Ilyukhin.

Italy, represented by Yumiko Saimura.

Netherlands, represented by Frank Haasnoot. He took home the title of World Chocolate Master 2011.

France represented by Xavier Berger.

Taiwan, represented by Chi Hsien Cheng.

Here is Yana Ristou, Germany, holding her trophy for winning 1st place in the chocolate necklace category.

Palle Sørensen, Denmark, 3rd place.

Yoshiaki Uezaki, Japan, 2nd place. Japan won the last 2 consecutive titles in 2007 and 2009. Must have been a lot of pressure for this guy!

Frank Haasnoot, Netherlands, 1st place at the World Chocolate Master 2011. When his name was announced, he sprung himself onto Shigeo Hirai, Honorary President of the Jury and World Chocolate Master 2009.

It was so exciting to be there, amongst the crowd of supporters and Chefs, witnessing this moment. I’ve never felt the exhilaration of cheering for your favourite sports team in a winning game, but I imagine this is what it would feel like.

Frank Haasnoot holding his trophy. I'm sure he'll be partying hard tonight as he mentioned it twice in his video clip prior to the competition when asked what he would do after winning.

Chocolate showpiece by Frank Haasnoot, Netherlands, winner of World Chocolate Master 2011.

A close-up of some detailed work in his (Frank Haasnoot, Netherlands) chocolate showpiece.

And here are the chocolate showpieces from all the other contestants. If you go the website for the competition, you can see better pictures of all the showpieces.

Spain, after the collapse.

Russia

Mexico, after the collapse.

Italy

Switzerland, after the collapse.

Lebanon

France

Japan, 2nd place.

Taiwan

Denmark, 3rd place.

Iceland

U.S.A.

Canada

Poland

Belgium

Germany

Australia

UK, after the collapse.

And that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this special post on the World Chocolate Master 2011.

Here is me with Shigeo Hirai, World Chocolate Master 2009. He was really nice in person and didn't mind posing for a picture, unlike some other celebrity Chefs. I won't say who. Maybe I'll rant about it another day.

 

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!