Ruth Hinks becomes first woman to win UK Chocolate Masters

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: World chocolate masters, Chef

Ruth Hinks, winner of the UK Chocolate Masters, who will now go on to compete in the world final in Paris next year
Ruth Hinks, winner of the UK Chocolate Masters, who will now go on to compete in the world final in Paris next year
Ruth Hinks, owner of Edinburgh chocolate shop and patisserie school Cocoa Blacks, has been named UK Chocolate Master 2012 following a gruelling three-day final in London. 

Hinks, who is the first woman to win the title, beat the three other finalists at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair at London Olympia yesterday, winning the chance to lead the UK in the World Chocolate Masters in Paris next year. 

Speaking to BigHospitality after the prize ceremony,  the mother-of-two revealed she had tried to quit the competition last year after pressure grew, but was encouraged to remain in it by her staff and family. 

She said: "Winning hasn't sunk in yet. It's the second time I've entered this competition and it's been a lot of hard work, but worth it. I've been thinking about the final since last October and it's quite a relief to now be able to move on.

"I couldn't have done it without the support I've had. I have amazing staff and support from my husband."

Chocolate judgement

During the three-day final, finalists, who also included Conor McAlonan of Liberty Boy Confections, Alistair Birt, head chocolatier at William Curley and Richie Heppell, head chef at the Royal Air Force Officers Mess at RAF Leuchars, were tasked with making a show piece around the theme of The Architecture of Taste, a chocolate layered cake, a moulded praline, a gastronomic chocolate dessert and a contemporary take on a chocolate log.

Judges, who included chef and restaurateur Alan Murchison, pastry chef Sarah Hartnett of the Sheraton Park Lane and former UK champion Mark Tilling, marked contestants in each category with the final scores being very close. 

Close contest​ 

Chair of the judges Gary Hunter, head of culinary arts, food and beverage and hospitality at Westminster Kingsway College, said it had been a close competition and he had been impressed by the high standard of work by all finalists. 

"I can’t stress just how close the result was," he said. "Ruth’s moulded pralines were excellent, as was her contemporary twist on a classic. This win is just the beginning of a fantastic journey for her. Congratulations."

Hunter also praised former champion Mark Tilling for sharing his expertise with finalists. "Standards are improving every year and one of the reasons why is because Mark Tilling set the bar higher for everyone to work up to," he said.  

Robert Harrison, sales director, UK and Ireland at Barry Callebaut, organiser of the competition, congratulated Hinks and other finalists. 

"There is no other culinary competition like the World Chocolate Masters that demands such high standards of creativity, design, innovation and inspiration from an individual. 

"We are truly impressed by how the level of quality and talent on offer is raised at every final. The competition has proved that chocolate craftsmanship in the UK is alive and well.”

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