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UK World Chocolate Masters 2015

Chocolate is one of the greatest and most versatile ingredients in a pastry kitchen, and certainly one of the most popular. It’s one we also use an awful lot of, so when we received an invitation to watch the UK heats of the 2015 World Chocolate Masters competition, we were quick to book a train down to London and head off for a couple of days of chocolate extravagance.

minion egg
One of the chocolate eggs on display at Westminster Kingsway College, I’m pretty sure it’s an octopus, but we couldn’t shake the feeling that it looked like a minion….(banana?)

The UK heat of the World Chocolate Masters 2015 was held at Westminster Kingsway Collage, with an exhibition by chocolate company Cacao Barry. While watching the contestants working away on their entries via a live stream from the kitchen onto a giant screen, we were treated to chocolate tastings and talks about cocoa farming and production methods that are going into the latest generation of chocolate couvertures.

cacao barry tasting
Chocolate tasting from Cacao Barry presented by Marc Demarquette, some great little bonbons and patisserie made with their “purity from nature” range

There was also a live demonstration from Ramon Morato, a famous Spanish chocolatier/pastry chef. Ramon produced some great chocolates, and was kind enough to endure a chat with us afterwards about some very nerdy chocolate issues!

ramon demo
Chocolate demonstration by Ramon Morato with a little help from Will Torrent
ramon chocolates
Some of Ramon’s bonbons, filled with soya reduction and yuzu ganache

Finally there was the competition itself, where contestants had to produce a chocolate showpiece, chocolate bonbons and patisserie, taking “inspiration from nature” as their theme. After some pretty intense judging, Michel Roux Jr crowned Alistair Birt (head chocolatier at William Curley) as the 2015 UK Chocolate Master, and the chef who will be going on to represent the UK in the world finals of the competition. Congratulations Alistair!

al showpiece
Alistair Birt’s winning chocolate showpiece for the UK World Chocolate Masters 2015 (photograph by Will Torrent)