Nicole McKenzie winner of the Junior Chocolate Masters UK& Ireland !

Nicole McKenzie winner of the Junior Chocolate Masters UK& Ireland !

On the 9th of July, four highly talented junior pastry Chefs aged between 18 and 24 gathered at the UK Chocolate Academy™ centre in Banbury to showcase their skills and creativity at the seventh edition of the Junior Chocolate Masters UK& Ireland. All day long, the four contestants battled to win the coveted title. They had to accomplish three demanding tasks: a chocolate showpiece (minimum height 75cm), moulded snacking bar and a Vegan Plated Chocolate Dessert, following the theme “ Blue Planet”

The contestants all showed exceptional skill, determination, concentration and nerve throughout the competition and some inspirational interpretations of the Blue Planet theme were seen in all elements.

After an intense day of competition: Nicole McKenzie from Resorts World Birmingham, Genting Hotel was this year’s winner crowned with the prestigious title of the UK& Ireland Junior Chocolate Master 2018! The first prize also included a trip for two people to attend the World Chocolate Masters finale in Paris next November and a ChocoVision, Revolation Delta, 7kg Automatic Chocolate Tempering Machine from Vantage House.


The competition was judged by experts of the pastry and chocolate world:

  • Ruth Hinks who represented the UK and Ireland at the World Chocolate Masters final in 2013 achieving the highest rank ever granted to a UK contestant. She now shares her deep knowledge at Cocoa Black, her Pastry & Chocolate School in Scotland.
  • Sarah Frankland, former Head Pastry Chef at Yauatcha and now Head Pastry Chef at Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa. Sarah also achieved the second place during the UK& Ireland Chocolate Masters competition in October 2017.
  • Michele Stanco currently Training and Development Chef at Carpigiani UK, previously Pastry Sous Chef at the Fat Duck group.

The results were really close and the task was not easy for the judges but in the end Nicole took more risk for her showpiece, which paid off.

Nicole the winner, impressed the jury by her preparation. She was so organised said Ruth Hinks that she did not allow places for mistakes.

Sarah Frankland further commented the Junior Chocolate Masters is a fantastic platform for young pastry chefs and I would really hope that one day Nicole will enter the World Chocolate Masters competition!

Michele Stanco further added that the level is rising every year and that all contestants showed great stamina all day long.

At the UK Chocolate Academy™, says Julie Sharp, we are really delighted by the growth of this competition which gives the youngsters the opportunity to perfect their  chocolate skills. We feel really proud of all Chefs that have competed over the past seven years, which strengthens further the cacao collective community.


Massive congratulations to the winner Nicole McKenzie and to the other contestants: Benjamin Dufour ( Harrods), Amanda Canever ( The Merrion hotel), Reece Hunt ( Bright Blue Foods). We are looking forward to see your next creations and wish you all the best in your future careers.

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank our sponsors who supplied amazing equipment and ingredients, which contributed to make the experience of the contestants even more incredible!