The 2017 ninth annual awards – of which Michel Roux OBE is patron ‒ have received over 900 entries, up from just over 500 last year.
They seek to test the appearance, depth of aroma, flavour, length and complexity of the chocolate entered, with the finalist entries to be judged from 3 April at Westminster Kingsway College in London.
The competition is organised by the Academy of Chocolate, which was founded in 2005 to promote understanding of good quality chocolate and chocolate making, as well as foster better links with chocolate producers and cocoa-growing countries.
“It shows the chocolate industry is growing and the understanding is getting clearer through sharing skills, methods and tips,” says Will Torrent, pastry chef and committee member at the Academy of Chocolate.
“For me it’s exciting to find these little gems [of cocoa farmers across the world] alongside the big players.”
Freelance pastry chef and consultant Sarah Hartnett has also joined the awards as chair of judges, helping to coordinate the panel of chocolatiers, pastry chefs, food and drinks writers, journalists, buyers and industry experts.
(Photo: The 2016 Gold Certificate / The Academy of Chocolate)
Entrants will have the chance to win the Gold, Silver or Bronze awards, as well as the special prizes of the Golden Bean award, the Newcomer award, the Mott Green Sustainability award, and the Rising Star prize.
“I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the Academy of Chocolate Awards, which is going from strength to strength each year,” says Hartnett, who was previously head pastry chef at the Park Lane Hotel in London, and has also worked at Claridge’s.
“The record number of entries is a clear indication of the growing significance they hold in the industry and I am very excited to see what's being produced.”
Hartnett is an ambassador for chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut, achieved the Award of Excellence in 1999 from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, and won the 2010 Pastry Chef of The Year at the Craft Guild of Chefs Award.
She is also joint-chairman for the pastry committee for the Annual Awards of Excellence, and honorary fellow at Westminster Kingsway.