Six chefs have been named as the winners of Callebaut's Make It Special competition, each winning a trip to Belgium to delve deeper into the world of chocolate.
Scooping the top prize in the 18-21 year old category, Dominic Hutchings, commis pastry chef, at Coworth Park hotel in Ascot will join the gold winner in the over-22s group, Eszter Takacs, pastry chef, at Shutishuti Patisserie, based in York.
Hutching's entry focused on enhancing the senses with dessert, encasing distinctive aromas such as aged whiskey or coconut within for a surprise. Judges felt that his dish added another dimension and set it apart from others.
Takacs garnishes her desserts using techniques such as tempered chocolate spirals, mousse piping and edible gold leaf to reflect the flavour of the cake and express the importance of the occasion. The judges particularly liked the strong visual statement.
Silver and bronze winners were:
• 18-21 year olds: Megan Roberts, demi chef de partie, Pastry, Harvey Nichols Birmingham (silver) and Leandra Molina Beato, pastry chef & bakery student, University College Birmingham (bronze)
• Over 22 year olds: Biju Joshwa, pastry chef, Sheraton Grand Park Lane (silver) and Jonny Davison, head chef, Wine & Brine (bronze)
The winners have been rewarded with a trip to discover Callebaut's Belgian roots, including a factory tour, a workshop at Callebaut's flagship academy and a trend tour to see the latest innovations in the chocolate capital of the world. Gold and silver winners will also receive varying amounts of Callebaut chocolate to use in their kitchens.
Robert Harrison, sales director Gourmet-Northern Europe at Callebaut, commented: "Thank you to everyone who entered and shared their ideas, and congratulations to all six winners. It has been an honour to see how chefs are pushing the boundaries when it comes to creating impressive and memorable desserts, and we are delighted to be able to host the crème de la crème on this exclusive trip."