Ruth Hinks will be the first woman ever to represent the UK at the World Chocolate Masters Finals, following her win at the UK Chocolate Masters Competition organised by Callebaut, Cacao Barry and Carma.
The owner of Cocoa Black - the chocolate and pastry school in Peebles, Edinburgh - was crowned UK Chocolate Master after three days of intense competition, held at London Olympia's Speciality & Fine Food Fair on 2-4 September.
Commenting on her win, Hinks said: "I've been planning this since October last year, so it has been constantly on my mind - I'm so relieved.
"I can't thank my husband and the staff at Cocoa Black enough - at one point I was going to pull out of the competition, but they convinced me to stay in and I'm so glad they did.
"A huge congratulations to all the finalists, especially Alistair Birt, head chocolatier at William Curley, who is such a talented individual."
Head judge Gary Hunter, head of culinary arts, food & beverage service and hospitality at Westminster Kingsway College, said: "I can't stress just how close the result was. Ruth's moulded pralines were excellent, as was her contemporary twist on a classic. This win is just the beginning of a fantastic journey for her. Congratulations."
Robert Harrison, sales director, UK and Ireland at Barry Callebaut, added: "I would like to congratulate Ruth for a truly inspirational performance. There is no other culinary competition like the World Chocolate Masters that demands such high standards of creativity, design, innovation and inspiration from an individual. This was evident in spades during three days of thrilling competition."
"I would also like to thank all the other finalists who participated this year, in an event that is more challenging than ever - we are truly impressed by how the level of quality and talent on offer is raised at every final. The competition has proved that chocolate craftsmanship in the UK is alive and well."
The three other finalists were: runner-up Alistair Birt; Conor McAlonan, owner of Liberty Boy Confections; and Richie Heppell, head chef at Royal Air Force Officers Mess at RAF Leuchars.
Supported by official partners Keylink and HB Ingredients and sponsors California Raisins, Demarle, Wild Harvest and Thermomix, the competition requires each competitor to create one chocolate showpiece, one moulded praline, one pastry and one chocolate dessert. A new addition for this year was the reinvention in chocolate of a classic local recipe, which for the UK finals, was a chocolate log.
"The Architecture of Taste" is also the theme at the World Chocolate Masters Finals, taking place in Paris in October 2013.
By Lisa Jenkins
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