While this year’s competitors of the UK & Ireland WCM are getting ready for the national competition which will happen on Monday, we had a chat with the competitors from previous years. Two winners - Ruth Hinks and Alistair Birt, have already shared their experience with us. Let’s see what other contestants from the last competition had to say.
How was their experience of competing in the UK & Ireland chocolate masters?
Richie Heppell: “The Most important reason for me to participate in the UK & Ireland World Chocolate Masters was to compete against the finest chocolatiers, seeing different trends and experience different techniques. Seeing and competing against the best of the best can only give me more thirst and thrive to be better than the best whilst gaining new friends in this skillful medium of work.
I wanted to achieve the best possible status in a profession that needs more recognition all over the world in a skill that takes years to perfect through determination, strong character and true professionalism.”
“I found the whole experience amazing,” said Mary Reid. “It was very well organised. It was wonderful getting to meet the other excellent competitors and most importantly representing Ireland in this important competition.”
Norma Kelly added: “Competing in the UK and Ireland WCM preselection was for me an unforgettable experience, although it was hard work: I learnt so many new skills and met lots of new people who taught me lots about pastry and chocolate.”
What did they learn from this experience?
“The competition boosted my confidence and stimulated me to create amazing desserts and center pieces,” said Mary.
For Norma it meant also a change in her career: “From the experience I learnt so many new skills, but also it spurred me on to take a break from teaching pastry at Dublin Institute of Technology and open my own pastry shop which is something that had always been at the back of my mind.”
Richie sees it as an important step in his growth: “However good you think your creations and ideas are, it is reasonable to say that everyone competing is trying to be better than you and do the best they can for winning the title. However, the best about the competition was the openness of the contestants in sharing skills with others. Everybody was really keen to give away their secrets to help improve each other which is a true testament to the trade.”
What would be their best advice for this year’s competitors?
Richie: “My advice is to focus on keeping calm and stick to your practiced timelines and never stray away. Everyone will have their own strategy and it is important not to get side tracked by others. I wish all the competitors the best of luck and I know it will be a very exciting and unpredictable competition."
Mary: “Be really organised and work on your skill. Best of luck to all!”
Norma: “The best advice I can offer is to enjoy the whole experience even though you will be concentrating and working hard at the task in hand on the day. It truly is a special experience. I am really looking forward to seeing this year’s competition!”