International chocolate awards: European semi finals 2012
Friday 6th July 2012
In May, we were busy at the Marriott Hotel, County Hall in London organising the European Semi Finals of the International Chocolate Awards, an initiative organised by Chocolate Week Director Kate Johns and Seventy% Founder Martin Christy.
The aim of the International Chocolate Awards, which are taking place for the first time this year, is to recognise the best fine quality chocolate from around the world, considering tastes from around the world and offering a level playing field for international entries. We received over 260 entries from more than 50 different brands for our European Semi Final, with a great variety of countries entering chocolate. We had entries from traditional countries associated with chocolate such as Switzerland and France, as well as countries like Israel and the Czech Republic who are new to the chocolate world.
We invited experts, food journalists and pastry chefs from the host country to join our judging panel over the three days of judging in London. They were joined by ourGrand Jury, who travel to each competition. The Grand Jury members include Martin Christy (Seventy% founder, UK), Maricel Presilla (Cuban American chef and author of The New Taste of Chocolate), Monica Meschini (Italian expert and taster), George Bernadini (German author and ex-chocolate maker), Nancy Gilchrist (Master of Wine, UK) and Alex Rast (Seventy% contributor and reviewer, UK). The judging process was based on information gathered from an industry consultation we held prior to launching the awards, to ensure as much subjectivity as possible.
The categories are designed to reflect the current chocolate industry, with prizes being separated according to category and Gold and Silver awards being available for each. The Gold in the Dark Bar category went to Michel Cluizel, Los Ancones. Made in France using beans from the Dominican Republic, a 67% cocoa solids bar and one of their origins range and impressed the judges as a bar that was complex and sophisticated whilst also being a chocolate that has mass appeal. In the Milk category Michel Cluizel also triumphed with Gold for their Maralumi milk. France continued to pick up awards with Pralus the only Gold winner in the Milk filled chocolates category for their Bar Infernale Lait and Bonnat picking up a Silver in the dark bar category.
The British entrants excelled in the filled chocolates categories with Golds to Paul a Young and Damian Allsop and silvers awarded to Boutique Aromatique, Matcha and Rococo. Hotel Chocolat also did well in the awards with a silver for their St Lucian 70% milk, salted caramel éclat in the flavoured milk bar category, a category where Damian Allsop picked up another Gold.
The organic Gold awards were won by Michel Cluizel, once again for their Los Ancones bar, by Akesson for their Madagascan 75% & Voatsiperifery Pepper a flavoured dark bar and by Francois Pralus for their milk Melissa bar.
After hugely successful round in London and also Italy, which took place back in April, we can’t wait for September, when we’ll be in New York for the US round and Vancouver for a Canadian round. The World Finals will be held in London during this year’s Chocolate Week.