John Costello, innovation chef from Park Cakes in Bury, Manchester - which supplies Marks & Spencers - has been named the UK Chocolate Master 2010-11 after an “extremely close” competition held at the Restaurant Show yesterday and today.
Five of the UK’s best chocolate professionals competed in the two-day challenge, which involved creating a chocolate pastry, two different types of praline (moulded and dipped), a chocolate dessert, a ‘mystery box’ creation, and a themed chocolate show-piece.
In a close second place was Ruth Hinks from Cocoa Black in Peebles, Scotland. Other competitors in the competition, sponsored by Barry Callebaut, were Andrew Gregson-Brown from Andy’s Creative Cakes in Brackley, Northamptonshire, Conor McAlonan from Cork City Hall in Co. Cork Ireland, and Graham Hornigold from the Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park in Bexleyheath, Kent
Flavour made the difference
Head judge Gary Hunter said the competition was “extremely close”, particularly between the first and second place.
“John Costello won more on the flavour of his entremet and dessert. He produced a showed a diverse level of skills over the two days, which put him ahead of the game,” Hunter told BigHospitality.
Creation of chocolate
The theme of the competition this year was Cocoa, Quetzalcoatl’s Gift.
“Quetzalcoatl was the Aztec god, who gave cocoa as a gift to the Aztec civilisation,” explained Hunter. “This competition was an attempt to show that gift, and the creation of chocolate all those years ago.”
The contestants were also presented with a mystery box earlier today, and had just under an hour and a half to follow specific instructions to create a cold chocolate drink with two mignardises.
In other prizes that went out today, Ruth Hinks won both the Dipped Praline and the Moulded Praline awards, while Graham Hornigold won the California Raisin award.
Wold Chocolate Masters final
Costello, who also entered the competition in 2006, will now go on to represent the UK at the World Chocolate Masters finals in Paris in October 2011.
By August next year, national selections will have taken place in a total of 20 countries around the world. The winners from these will compete for the title of World Chocolate master 2011 – and a € 75.000 prize package – in the world finals.
In last year’s final, the UK’s winner Mark Tilling finished 7th out of 19 contestants at the Salon du Chocolat Professional exhibition in Paris. First place went to Shigeo Hirai, sous chef at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo.
Costello told BigHospitality: "I'm going to give the world final my all. I'm going to speak with Mark Tilling and several other judges for advice and help over the next twleve months, but first I'm going to take some time off!"