Simak’s dessert, entitled ‘Yuzu, Wild Blueberries and Hazelnut Mousse’, was crowned the winner after the live final at this year’s Chocolate Show at London Olympia.
Louise Rigden of Royal Opera House’s ‘Open Chocolate Éclair’ placed second, with The Salt Room’s ‘Cobnut Nutella, Waffle Ice Cream with Coffee and Milk’ coming in third.
The judging panel included Cherish Finden, executive chef at The Langham hotel and judge on the BBC’s Great British Bake Off: Crème de la Crème; Sara Jayne Stanes, chair of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts; and Martin Chiffers, president of Pastry Team UK.
There was also Mark Tilling, former UK Chocolate Master, of cake specialists Squire’s Kitchen, and winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off: Crème de la Crème; Chantal Coady, founder of Rococo Chocolates; Eric Lanlard, patissier; and Paul A. Young, of eponymous chocolatier paul.a.young.
The panel also featured Xanthe Clay, food writer at The Telegraph newspaper; food writer Carolyn Hart; Susan Low, deputy editor of Delicious Magazine; and food writer and chocolate expert Cat Black.
The desserts were judged on appearance, presentation, texture, quality of ingredients, flavour combinations, creativity, and technical skill.
Simak was praised for his finesse, complementary flavours, and innovative creativity.
He said: “I’m extremely honoured to have been crowned the winner of the Chocolate Dessert of the Year competition. I am sincerely grateful for the recognition I have received for my work, especially as I was up against such tough competition.”
The rest of the finalists came from high-profile establishments including The Dorchester, the Royal Opera House, Lima London, Oliver Maki, and Smith & Wollensky, with creation names including ‘Gigantic Chocolate Cake’, ‘Avocado Chocolate Mousse’ and a ‘Chocolate Garden’.
Now in its fourth year, the London Chocolate Show takes place annually and is organised by Salon du Chocolat, which runs chocolate events across 32 global cities.