Judge the judges at the London Chocolate Show 2014

October 23, 2014 11:28 pm by International Chocolate Awards in Updates


By Maricel Presilla

Priceless! To help the public and entrants understand the difficult and painstaking process of judging chocolates in a competition as large and ambitious as the International Chocolate Awards, we invited a group of our award winners from several regions to join us in a public re-enactment of our process on stage at the London Chocolate Show at Olympia West.

We chose six gold award-winners from past competitions–chocolatiers Chantal Coady of Rococo, Paul A Young of Paul Young, Claudio Pistocchi of Torta Pistocchi fame in Florence, cacao grower Bertil Akesson of Akesson’s Chocolates, Anna Dreyer Klareskov Ottosen of Friis Holm Chocolate in Denmark, and Duffy Sheardown of Red Star Chocolate in the UK. We asked them to sit onstage and follow the full protocol of our competitions: do palate checking, use our soupy polenta as palate cleanser, and follow our judging forms to evaluate and judge a variety of chocolates made by our Grand Jury members. Our audience followed the process, doing palate cheching and tasting entries.


What followed was priceless. A normally silent exercise became a performance with Martin Christy explaining the process and getting the feedback of the judges and comparing them with the audience’s reactions live. While this happened, we sat watching the judges react to our chocolates (they did not know who made what), hearing them take them apart and either like or reject our work, just as we do with chocolates during every competition. As promised, this had become “Revenge of the Entrants.” But in a way, the tables were turned because some of our submissions were not so innocent. In fact, they were land mines. We gave them a mouldy Papua New Guinea chocolate that confused them all and a truffle made with a very poor quality chocolate that was criminally loaded with alkermes bitters and basil on purpose. In the end, every judge admitted that it was far easier to make chocolate than to judge it. Most gratifying for us judges was to hear how difficult and challenging these chocolatiers and chocolate makers found the process of judging.


Overall, this exercise was a highlight of the Chocolate Show, an educational yet hilarious performance that allowed us to get glimpses of an important contest and see how people in the industry react to chocolate. Personally, I simply adored the open mind and curiosity of Chantal Coady, Paul Young, and Anna Dreyer Klarestov and the good sense of humor of everyone involved.