World Chocolate Masters USA Selection 2017
There are experiences we have the pleasure of having as a part of the chocolate industry. We taste some of the best desserts of our lives. We meet talented and famous chefs. We celebrate the creativity of chocolate as an art.
At the World Chocolate Masters, all three are taken to the next level. The competition, sponsored by Cacao Barry, takes place in Paris every three years. But before booking flights France-bound, there are national selections. Twenty countries hold national selections to choose their candidate to bring home a win. On April 28th & 29th, the Chicago Chocolate Academy and the Cacao Barry US team partnered up to host the USA selection.
For those who don’t know, the World Chocolate Masters is the only worldwide competition that focuses solely on chocolate. The competition is also individual, which only adds to the pressure. For the lucky winner, it means incredible recognition for your craft across the globe.
This year’s World Chocolate Masters is the 7th edition, boasting a funky theme: Futropolis. With a focus on the future, Futropolis encourages contestants to think about the evolution of chocolate and flavor, the impact of megacities, and how food ingredients will be grown. Each of the three assignments for the USA selection must reflect this theme, as will all the assignments at the worlds in 2018.
Here in the USA, we were lucky to have such experienced and inspiring contestants interested. Our four contestants were:
- Jove Hubbard, Executive Pastry Chef at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (Chicago, IL)
- Devin D. Cowan, Assistant Executive Pastry Chef at The Greenbrier (White Sulphur Springs, WV)
- Rory Macdonald, Pastry Chef at Patisserie Chanson (New York, NY)
- Florent Cheveau, Executive Pastry Chef at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas, NV)
There’s no competition without a jury. The USA selection’s four judges were:
- Jerome Landrieu, Head of the Chicago Chocolate Academy and Cacao Barry Chef
- Jacquy Pfeiffer, Co-founder and owner of the French Pastry School
- John Kraus, Owner of Patisserie 46 & Rose Street Patisserie and member of Relais Desserts
- Vincent Vallee, World Chocolate Master 2015 and Cacao Barry France Ambassador
Chef Jerome Landrieu served as the jury president. These four contestants, as well as the four judges, each bring a multifaceted set of pastry experiences to the table.
Day one of the competition is dedicated to the first assignment, chocolate showpiece, made entirely of chocolate and cocoa products. No structural pieces can be built in, so the higher or wider the piece, the higher the chance of a crumble. After a kitchen run-through with Chef Jerome, the contestants are off with only three hours to put together their piece. They arrive with all their molded pieces, needing only to assemble. While that seems easy, the incredibly detailed chocolate decorations, as well as making sure the sculpture is structurally sound, takes up all a contestant’s time. After each showpiece is judged at the contestant’s station, the contestant must move it to the viewing area, which happened to be in the Academy Cafe. Not only is the showpiece’s integrity tested, but so is the trust of the contestant, as they each choose someone to help them move it. This year, all showpieces remained intact during the move. Just like that, day one is over, allowing the contestants to rest and prepare for a long day two.
The other two assignments, fresh flavors patisserie and snacking confection to-go, are created on the second day of the competition. “Snacking confection to-go” is a confection that is consumed on the go. It is a complete concept, including packaging or container in which you’d sell or serve your snack. “Fresh flavors patisserie” is a fresh, delicate patisserie, assembled a la minute. This patisserie will blur the lines between the classic patisserie and restaurant dessert, a hybrid of sorts. Each of the four contestants presented each of their creations to the judges, which gave them the ability to explain their thoughts and inspirations.
The waiting game begins after the pastry and confection are presented. The judges close their door to all while they taste each presentation and review the recipes. After what feels like forever, the judges meet and prepare to announce the winner.
Alex Foster, the Chicago academy coordinator, served as the evening’s host and announcer. Each judge presented an award, including the candidate title. Chef Devin took home the awards for showpiece and patisserie, while Florent won for snacking confection and the USA candidate title. In the event that Florent will not be able to represent the USA at the world finals, Devin will be the next delegate.
After wrapping Florent in an American flag cape, chefs, sponsors, family, and friends gathered to celebrate all the hard work our contestants put into this competition and enjoy some cocktails. It is the perfect way to end the competition.
The Academy team was integral in the success of the entire event. On top of their contributions to the event logistics, they also prepared creations for the cocktail reception. A big part of Cacao Barry’s brand is celebrating collaboration in the pastry scene. As part of the Cacao Collective initiative, guest chefs were invited to show the talent of Chicago’s own pastry scene. Our four guest pastry chefs were:
- Chris Texeira, Executive Pastry Chef at Steadfast, Homestead on the Roof, & West Town Bakery
- Scott Green, Executive Pastry Chef at the Langham Chicago
- Dimitri Fayard, Executive Pastry Chef at the Peninsula Chicago and Cacao Barry USA Ambassador
- Joel Reno, Pastry Chef Instructor at the French Pastry School
With a total of eight creations on display at the cocktail reception, it was pastry overload in the best possible way. All encompassed the Futropolis theme through each chef’s interpretations.
The World Chocolate Masters US Selection was an incredible success and a night to remember. For more pictures from the USA selection, visit the Cacao Barry Facebook page (@CacaoBarry.us) and the Chicago Chocolate Academy Facebook page (@chicagochocolateacademy).
For more information about World Chocolate Masters, visit www.worldchocolatemasters.com.