World Winners Feature – 2014

September 9, 2015 5:51 pm by Cat Black in News, Winners Features


As the International Chocolate Awards builds up to its fourth World Final in 2015, Cat Black from Chocolate Couverture look backs at some of the 2014 World Winners.

Pacari (Ecuador)

Photo credit: Paul Winch-FurnessI regard every award received by Pacari from the International Chocolate Awards as a validation of the quality and excellence that Latin American and Ecuadorian cacao can achieve when treated properly. For years Carla Barboto, my wife and business partner, and I worked hard to create a sustainable chocolate company that was true to our own sense of social responsibility. Seeing our life’s work acknowledged and celebrated fills us with pride and happiness and confirms that we were on the right path.

I’ve seen the difference that we have made in the lives of the thousands of Ecuadorian cacao farmers working with us. They now understand that fine cacao is not just a commodity to be exported but something special that will remain in Ecuador to become a fine chocolate that they will have the opportunity to taste. We are constantly hosting tastings everywhere we go, and I never cease to be amazed at the enthusiasm generated by the Awards in Ecuador where consumers no longer see chocolate only as candy but as a product that can be as sophisticated as a fine wine and that has to be taken seriously.

Our customers are now appreciating and enjoying dark chocolate, making a distinction between fine and mass produced chocolates and asking intelligent questions about regional origins and flavor profiles, which is refreshing to hear and a historic change. Knowing that through our own success in the Awards we have helped place Ecuador and all of Latin America on the spotlight not just as an exporter of fine cacao, but as a producer of fine chocolate, drives us to keep working and do more.

– Santiago Peralta

The most lauded chocolate maker in the world at the 2012 and 2013 International Chocolate Awards, Pacari Chocolate have again dominated the leader-board in the world finals blazing a trail with stunning flavours that are powerfully true to bean, and a revolutionary and important business model.

In winning the best plain dark gold award for the third year running, and with nine silver award winning chocolates too, this exceptional company goes from strength to strength and further proves its worth.

Santiago Peralta and Carla Barboto were motivated by twin injustices; the plight of poorly rewarded local cacao farmers, and the lack of international renown for the superb fine flavour cacao of their native Ecuador.

Santiago Peralta

Santiago Peralta

They began to support the farmers through selling cacao, but were moved to turn chocolate makers, following a passionate desire to ensure the cacao was handled with the respect it deserved, throughout the processing into chocolate.

This respect is heartfelt towards the farmers that they work with. It is for this reason that they focus on farmers who are close enough to their factory that they can ensure a personal relationship. They learn from the farmers about the cacao, and they support the farmers in their learning to sustain the precious diversity and excellence of Ecuadorian cacao.

They were one of the first growing country chocolate makers to produce chocolate up to the standard of the finest makers in Europe and the USA. Pacari is at its heart resolutely local, but their scope has become global. Santiago Peralta has been tireless in his role as ambassador for his chocolate and his country, and has taken his work to greet the international community. He has also engaged with this community, listening, learning and developing.

The result is a range of bars and enrobed treats that open the taste buds and the eyes to a new idea of chocolate and chocolate making.


Plain/origin dark chocolate bars

GOLD: Montubia 70%

From a stable of winners this noses ahead due to it’s exceptional flavour. With a very smooth melt, bright fruitiness and floral notes, this is a chocolate with both great purity and length.

SILVER: Raw 70%
SILVER: Piura – Quemazon 70%

A bold move for a growing-country chocolate maker – a bar made with cacao from neighbouring rival cacao grower, Peru. Piura is the world’s hot new cacao source, with chocolate makers flocking to buy this white-beaned variety of Nacional. Few have processed Piura with as much delicacy as Pacari, creating a bar so light in colour that it can easily be mistaken for a milk chocolate. The dairy theme continues into the taste, with fresh cream strawberry notes, brown sugar and unripe banana. Lightly tannic, but very delicate and accessible.

SILVER: La Cumbia 70%
SILVER: Tangara 70%
SILVER: Pacari Raw 85% chocolate bar
SILVER: Pacari Raw 100% Chocolate Bar

Pacari have taken a remarkable flavour journey with their raw bars, from early experiments with raw chocolate just four years ago to what’s currently the world’s only Biodynamic chocolate. Unroasted and low processed, the cacao is truly exposed and must be flawless, giving unique, fresh, green notes, light fruit, floral touches and a chocolate heart. A real chocolate and a revelation to be enjoyed by anyone, not just health food addicts.

Dark chocolate bars with an infusion or flavouring

SILVER– Pacari Andean Lemon Verbena Chocolate Bar

Dark chocolate bars with inclusions or pieces

SILVER: Pacari Coffee chocolate bar
SILVER: Pacari Pink Cuzco Salt & Cacao Nibs Chocolate bar

The green brightness of fine Ecuadorian cacao is here elegantly seasoned with salt and given a great crunch with cocoa nibs. The result is a well balanced and very tasty bar of chocolate.

Special awards

Montubia 70%:

GOLD: Chocolate Maker
GOLD: Growing Country
GOLD: Organic
GOLD: Directly Traded

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Marou (Vietnam)

Marou-HEADERWe are extremely grateful for the award given by the ICA judges to our 85% Tan Phu Dong limited edition chocolate. The prize goes to an exceptional cacao grown in very small quantities and to the lucky chocolate makers who found this gem amongst family farm produced cacao in Vietnam.

We are infinitely proud to be putting great Vietnamese chocolate on the fine cacao world map. Look out for this chocolate being re-issued in small batches in 2015!

-Samuel Maruta

In a few short years Marou co-founders, Frenchmen Vincent Mourou and Samuel Maruta, have gone from an exploratory motorbike ride into a Vietnamese cacao plantation, to multi-award winning chocolate maker.

Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou planting cacao in Vietnam

Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou planting cacao in Vietnam

The first artisan chocolate maker based in Vietnam, they have a clear emphasis on making pure chocolate with nothing but cacao and sugar. Their aim is to showcase the fine qualities of Vietnamese cacao, and it’s diversity. They make chocolate from different terroirs all around Vietnam, and while each bar presents a stunning flavour journey, tasting multiple bars is a cacao flavour journey around Vietnam.

Both men are passionate about Vietnam and its culture of mutually supportive small farm agriculture. They work closely with farmers, and cocoa farming cooperatives. It is important to them that they are on first name terms with the farmers and pay them a premium for their best cacao and their sensitive understanding and handling of their crop.

Marou chocolate is startlingly good, intense, diverse, and exciting. Vincent and Samuel have started a revolution, shining the spotlight on a little known country for cacao and bringing to the attention of the worldwide community of chocolate lovers its gourmet potential.


High % plain/origin dark chocolate bars (85% and over)

GOLD: Tan Phu Dong 85% La Grande Epicerie de Paris

A chocolate with great creaminess and depth of flavour. Despite high percentage this is very easy to eat, and complex with lots of fruit and acidity in addition to a peaty earthiness.

Special awards

Tan Phu Dong 85% La Grande Epicerie de Paris:

GOLD: Chocolate Maker
GOLD: Growing Country
GOLD: Directly Traded

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Friis-Holm (Denmark)

Mikkel Friis-Holm

Mikkel Friis-Holm

The International Chocolate Awards is The Modern World Championship of chocolate – Being judged primarily on taste puts the emphasis on the quality of the raw materials, the farmers supplying the cacao and the craftsmanship of the chocolate maker – this is what should be judged and it makes me proud to have products that qualifies in to this setting.”

– Mikkel Friis-Holm

A chef by trade, and with a chefs uncompromising palate driving everything he makes, Mikkel Friis-Holm creates chocolate both interesting and easy to love.

With a lifelong passion for chocolate, and working in food since the age of 22, Mikkel Friis-Holm finally gave in to the pull towards chocolate in 2008. Since then he has been developing his products towards multi-award winning excellence. From his home in Copenhagen he has been making waves in the international chocolate making community.

Dark Milk Nicaragua 65%

Dark Milk Nicaragua 65%

A founding member of Direct Cacao, the organization formed to promote and support fine flavour and heritage cacao, Mikkel Friis-Holm has worked with superbly interesting varieties and origins from the outset. All of his world award-winning chocolates are made with Nicaraguan cacao, an origin with which he appears to have a great affinity. Its complexity is allowed to shine thanks to the sensitivity of with which it is handled.

His focus on interesting beans, and bringing all of their characteristic flavor notes to the fore, is joined by a tremendous attention to texture. Mikkel Friis-Holm’s chocolate always has an exceptionally smooth melt.

To date he has worked with the factory of French master chocolate maker Stephane Bonnat, to realize the fabrication of his bars. He is starting to work bean-to-bar in his own factory, with the first bars expected to come off line in 2015. This will mean that he will be able to work every stage of the process under his own control.

It would be hard to know how such sublime chocolates could be improved, but Mikkel Friis-Holm’s uncompromising rigour will find a way if there is one.


Plain/origin milk chocolate bars

GOLD: Friis-Holm Dark Milk 65 % ( * Bonnat, France)

Last year Friis-Holm won this award with the same chocolate in a 55% bar. This year the higher percentage edged it. A chocolate that is both interesting and an absolute pleasure to eat. Friis Holm have taken a blend of Nicaraguan beans and created a chocolate rich in the almost savoury notes of beans of this origin and deep caramel notes. It also has a comforting lightness, with the flavours of Macadamia nuts and cream. This is a perfect balance of salt and sweet. It has all the glorious mouthfeel that is a Friis-Holm signature. All the comfort of milk chocolate in a bar that is also uniquely interesting. Friis continues to make revelatory milk chocolate.

Plain/origin dark chocolate bars

BRONZE: Johe 70% ( * Bonnat, France)

A beautifully smooth chocolate, full of the flavours of dark caramel, toasted hazelnut and almost savoury black olive.

BRONZE: Nicaliso 70% ( * Bonnat, France)

An ultra smooth dark chocolate that celebrates the flavours of this Nicaraguan cacao. It starts with cashew nut notes, then moves into the black olive notes characteristic of this origin, and finishes with richly nutty and toasted flavours.

Special awards

Dark Milk 65% ( * Bonnat, France):

GOLD: Directly Traded

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Chocolates El Rey (Venezuela)


Participating in the International Chocolate Awards has sparked innovation and bolstered our commitment to produce premium chocolate. The initiative spearheaded by the International Chocolate Awards is sound and brings together a universe of people from around the world to express a host of expressions of what premium chocolate means. Bravo!

In VENEZUELA unfortunately we deal with our ground rules being modified constantly, so that to maintain quality and perspective is a tribute to the entire staff at El Rey. We utilize the very best of raw materials known in the world and we seek to transform them into world-class end products. The International Chocolate Awards keeps us on our toes.

Founded in 1929 in Caracas, Chocolates El Rey are motivated by the belief that their Venezuelan fine flavour cacao is the best in the world. As they put it themselves: “El Rey chocolate – The King of chocolate made with the King of cacao.”

Due to local government regulations they have in recent times remained largely available only to their local market. However in the mid 1990s laws changed and they began to spread the word, and their chocolate, worldwide. They have also pioneered the creation of chocolate of single origin, and ensured focus on this by declaring the origins at a very early stage, before this was common practice. They have done this with the support and help of chocolate experts including the eminent Maricel Presilla.

They have sought to improve, not only the chocolate, but the cacao trade in Venezuela, by establishing Aprocao, a democratically run co-operative, which cuts out the middle man and pays the farmers above market prices for their beans.

They work with small and large cacao farmers, with a focus always on using the fine flavour Venezuelan beans that make them proud and their chocolate delicious.


Plain/origin white chocolate bars

GOLD: Icoa White Chocolate

White chocolate has a bad reputation – it’s usually very sweet and made with generic cocoa butter from unidentified sources. The International Chocolate Awards chose to include this category to encourage white chocolate with more character and rescue it from the being a mere sweet candy bar. El Rey rose to the challenge, using their own natural cocoa butter with a specific origin taste from Venezuela. Distinct cacao notes add a fruity kick to create a white chocolate that’s not just empty sweetness.

Special awards

Icoa White Chocolate:

GOLD: Growing Country

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Åkesson’s (United Kingdom)

Bertil Åkesson

Bertil Åkesson

We are honoured to belong to this club of International Chocolate Awards Winners. This organisation is really helpful to bring a new awareness about real chocolate and to promote the often struggling world of artisan chocolate makers, a world of passionate people that are also adventurers and entrepreneurs taking risks.

We want to support this organisation making the best chocolate we can and keep deserving this recognition from our peers. Thank you to the judges and to all of those who are making it possible, from the farmers on my plantations to my “artisans chocolatiers” in France.

– Bertil Åkesson

Growing up amongst the cocoa plantations and spices of Madagascar nurtured a love of both in Swede Bertil Åkesson. He is a world expert in both things, and is an informed and passionate advocate for fine flavour cacao.

With cacao plantations in Madagascar, Brazil and Indonesia, Åkesson works with and supplies to chefs and chocolatiers worldwide. The quality of his cacao and his pepper are exceptional and have a global reputation.

Working with the cacao and pepper himself, Bertil has developed a range of chocolates whose purity demonstrate the quality of these ingredients that he loves and understands so well.

All aspects of production, from his methods of running his plantations, to the choice of organic papers and recycled glass for packaging, are made to have the least impact on the planet and the most positive impact on the communities it involves.

Åkessons is an ethical, passionately run business, producing glorious cacao and pepper, and making very fine chocolate.


Dark chocolate bars with inclusions or pieces

GOLD: Madagascar – 75% chocolate & voatsiperifery pepper

Showcasing exceptional pepper, used with great intensity alongside fine flavour fruity Madagascan cacao, this is a treat. A great and powerful flavour delivery make this a superb chocolate.

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Guido Castagna (Italy)


Guido Castagna

For us it is very important processing from bean to bar both for cocoa for hazelnut piedmont IGP. Winning with the best giandujotto is very important because it is the typical product of Turin, our land that we love. The same is for cream gianduja fondant +55 (with 68% of Piedmont hazelnuts IGP) and other awards of pralines that are also part of the tradition of Turin.

– Guido Castagna

Guido Castagna opened his chocolate workshops in 2002 in Giaveno in his native Turin. He has quickly achieved excellence in his work and recognition for the exceptional traditional Piedmontese chocolates he makes.

He has won the “Eccelenza Artigiana” award for the Piedmontese region, and the Master of Taste from the Slow Food Association.

He has won multiple awards from International Chocolate Awards every year. Many of his award winning creations have incorporated that classic ingredient of the region, hazelnuts. Guido Castagna uses the “Signora Tonda Gentile” hazelnut, selected for its exceptional quality. These were combined with dark chocolate to create prime examples of two classic Italian recipes.

Gianduja Fondente

Gianduja Fondente

In 2014 he has delighted with a new version of his classic gianduia presented as a dark chocolate filled bar. Overall this year he took home an outstanding five gold awards at world level.

An exacting and brilliant technician, with a palate to match, this fastidious chocolatier is doing all within his power to achieve the highest possible standards and create the most exceptional products. He works within the classical Italian canon, using the forms and techniques that would be expected, such as nut pastes rather than the French style filling of a ganache. But what Castagna has then gone on to do is innovate with these. He does this in such a way as to create something really new, without losing the qualities of the classics. For example, his filled chocolates infused with unusual combinations of spices are unexpected and gorgeously full flavoured, while remaining a lesson in restraint and balance.

Another rare and outstanding aspect of his work and chocolates is the couverture he uses. Castagna makes all of them from the bean, creating various different single cacao origin chocolates on site in his workshop in Giaveno. Their excellence underpins all that he makes and sets him in a class apart from the majority of his peers.


Dark chocolate bars with a filling

GOLD: Gianduja Fondente

A bar filled with the award winning gianduja that has kept Castagna a winner since the beginning of the awards, this is pure class.

Dark chocolate gianduiotto

GOLD: Giandujotto

Perfectly shaped and completely made by Castagna, incorporating chocolate made from cacao from Chuao, Venezuela. Castagna’s approach is a light recipe that easily dissolves in the mouth delivering delicate and balanced chocolate hazelnut flavours far removed from industrial versions.

Unflavoured dark chocolate cremino

GOLD: Cremino Nocciola Piemonte IGP e Pistacchio di Bronte

This is a very pure offering from Guido, clean and smooth, rich in the green nuttiness of great pistachio nuts. It is elegant, gentle even, and very tasty.

Nut based pralines with dark chocolate

GOLD: Cremino Nocciola Piemonte IGP e Cannella

Combining exceptional knowledge and mastery of the classic techniques and ingredients of Italian chocolate, here Guido shows how to use them to innovate to glorious effect. The filling is a nut paste, the traditional centre of Italian filled chocolates. In this case it is rich with the very best IPG hazelnuts. All the chocolate used is the finest quality, created from the bean in-house by Guido. In this case a 64% dark that perfectly compliments the other flavours. These elements are joined by both calendula, a flower both warm and aromatic in flavour, and cinnamon, whose warmth creates a mellow sweetness. This is both surprising, and surprisingly easy to love.

Spreads with dark chocolate

GOLD: Crema di nocciole + 55

An up to date version of a classic gianduja spread, light, delicate and airy, presented in stylish modern packaging. It is rich in the very best nuts, at 68%, and their flavour really shines. Exceptional quality ingredients make this a truly fine gourmet version of this comforting favourite.

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The Violet Chocolate Company (Canada)

Honey Rosemary Milk Bar

Honey Rosemary Milk Chocolate Bar

“In only my second year of business with The Violet Chocolate Co., it is an honour to be recognized among some of the world’s best chocolatiers. The Honey Rosemary bar has always been a personal and customer favourite which makes winning two Canadian Golds and a World Gold even more special.”

– Rebecca Grant

Based in Alberta, Canada, The Violet Chocolate Company is the brainchild of chocolatier Rebecca Grant.

Having worked with food and chocolate since 2006, in early 2012 she took the step of launching The Violet Chocolate Company. Rebecca’s focus is on ethical ingredients, sourced locally where possible, made into interesting modern chocolates. She works with flavour combinations that appeal and surprise, for her regular collections or as bespoke orders for clients, and has been winning awards for her chocolates from the outset.

Rebecca also spreads her love and knowledge of chocolate by hosting chocolate classes and tastings.


Bars – Milk chocolate bars flavoured with an infusion or flavouring

GOLD: Honey Rosemary

Dark milk chocolate is infused with clover honey and rosemary. This bar is creamy with delicious honey and the delicate complimentary herbal notes of the rosemary.

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Askinosie (United States)

dark milk chocolate and black liquorice bar

We’re honored for this recognition, especially because we’re amongst such esteemed company– some peers we really admire. This bar is special for us because despite its seemingly polarizing flavor profile, it has a kind of cult following across the globe. We think it’s a wonderful example of the payoff of taking risks with flavor, as well as the benefits of sourcing only the best ingredients (like the licorice from Lakritsfabriken).

– Lawren Askinosie

In 2005 the highflying criminal lawyer Shawn Askinosie had the idea to make chocolate. He wanted a career change, and within a short period of time that was exactly what he got. He is regarded as one of a tiny group of artisanal bean to bar chocolate makers who founded a movement that is now thriving with an increasing wealth of members.

When Askinosie Chocolate began, with machinery kicking into operation in 2007, it was virtually a field of none. They pioneered making chocolate directly from the bean in small batches. They pioneered sourcing cacao directly from the people who grow it, and treating them as business partners with fair practice and pricing.

Social responsibility is inherent in all their work, and all practices are carried out with fairness, sustainability, social, environmental and community best outcomes at heart.

Working closely with cacao farmers in Ecuador, Honduras, Tanzania and The Philippines, Askinosie creates delicious fine single origin chocolate with what now amounts to considerable experience and expertise.


Milk chocolate bars with inclusions or pieces

GOLD: Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice CollaBARationTM Bar

Made with premium sweet liquorice from Ramlosa in Sweden and anise, there is flavour and texture galore in this interesting chocolate. A smooth 62% dark milk chocolate is seasoned with a little fleur de sel, a well known partner for good liquorice, and a touch of goats milk. The result is intriguing and exciting.

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FIKA choklad (United States)

Quinoa/Hazelnut Bar

Quinoa/Hazelnut Bar

It’s an honor to be among this truly decadent crowd of winners from all over the world. The International Chocolate Awards truly raises attention to quality chocolate and craftsmanship all over the globe

– Hakan Martensson

Founder and co-owner Lars Åkerlund opened the first FIKA shop on Central Park South in Manhattan in 2006. His aim and achievement has been to create a little bit of Scandinavia that is quite at home in Manhattan. The philosophy of the business is encapsulated in the name. FIKA translates as taking a break during the day, for coffee, for conversation, for a little something to eat to revive and delight.

The flavours and heritage of the coffee, foods and chocolate they sell and serve is Swedish, and all made daily with an emphasis on quality and staying local. The milk is from a farm in upstate New York, even all the packaging is made in the US.

The chocolate is in the hands of Håkan Mårtensson, who was a successful and celebrated chocolatier in Sweden before he took the helm at FIKA choklad in September 2006.

Now with four shops in New York, and a fifth location in Tribeca that houses a shop and their factory, they are spreading their message about taking that life enhancing moment and filling it with something delicious across the capitol.


Milk chocolate bars with a filling

GOLD: Quinoa/Hazelnut Bar

This crowd-pleasingly scrumptious offering from FIKA choklad won last year as a baton shaped chocolate. This year the same combination is presented as a bar. Hazelnut gianduia is given a fabulous texture and toasted flavours by the inclusion of puffed caramelized quinoa. A hint of salt cuts richness and the result is an utterly moreish nutty treat.

Dark chocolate enrobed caramels

GOLD: Liquorice/Yuzu

The warmth of liquorice and the tang of yuzu are paired in this happy mixture of dark chocolate and great caramel.

Nut based pralines with milk chocolate

SILVER: Hazelnut Skulls

A gold dusted skull filled with hazelnut gianduia. Crispy and delicious, with a touch of salt and a whole lot of fun.

Milk chocolate enrobed caramels

GOLD: Salted Caramel

In an overcrowded field this is a superlative example of a chocolate covered caramel. Salted caramel is enrobed in milk chocolate and a coating of crispy feuillantine. All elements are deeply flavoured, amazingly well balanced, utterly moreish and it would be nigh on impossible to leave a single one if you were lucky enough to get your hands on a box of these.

White chocolate ganaches or truffles

SILVER: Key Lime Pie

Another winner from FIKA, and an expression of how very strong the category of filled white chocolates has become. This is quite heavenly, it tastes just like Key Lime Pie, in one little bite-sized slice of bliss.

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Es Koyama (Japan)

Genmaicha White Chocolate

Genmaicha White Chocolate

The jury is from around the world and they are different from customers who usually are around me. It is a very fresh experience to send my ideas to people, almost all of whom I have never met. I always submit chocolates based on what I want to express now and what I think is good on a moment-to-moment basis. Some of my chocolates come from Japanese traditional cuisine culture, yet in other cases, they are a flash of intuition, I think the nature of chocolate (its restricted world) is interesting.

I’m really honored to receive good evaluation of my work, however, competitions are difficult and sometimes the work cannot obtain as good a result as I myself would like. But with or without the Awards I get, I feel the joy of creating lots of new works (over 20). I certainly look forward to producing new chocolates this year again. I myself enjoy nothing better than waiting to see what my new works will be.

– Susumu Koyama

With five gold and six silver awards this has been a stunning year at the The International Chocolate Awards for Japanese chocolatier Es Koyama. His dominance of the awards table, winning the most medals of any chocolatier or chocolate maker, are testament to an international reputation that has reached impressive significance. The last two years have seen this creative and consistently exciting chocolatier achieve cult status. In his native Japan Susumu Koyama has been working up to this level of excellence for a good while.


Susumu Koyama

After finishing his culinary training he began as a pastry chef at the age of nineteen in a Swiss style confectioners in Kobe. A marriage of east and west has inspired and informed his work to this day. It is present in the way he combines fragrant and unusual Japanese flavours with chocolate.

In 2000 Koyama set up under his own name, and Es Koyama, his eponymous boutique in Sanda, opened in 2003. The ambition and expansion of this gourmet destination has seen the addition of a patisserie school, museum and café on successive years.

In 2011 Koyama wowed the world stage by appearing in Paris for the Salon du Chocolat, being awarded the top accolade by the Club des Croquers du Chocolat for his work, and scooping the most outstanding entrant from outside France. He repeated both these coups in 2012.

His work is exceptionally refined, visually beautiful without being fussy, and the startling addition of ingredients such as fermented soy bean and green pepper are handled with the same success as the more classical cherry and plum. An exciting, brilliant creator, whose purity of vision is singular in its purpose.


Flavoured white chocolate bars

GOLD: Genmaicha (Hojicha & Genmai)

Genmaicha refers to brown rice tea, and is here presented as popped brown rice. It is a stunningly delicious and moreish treat, very bright, toasted, with crispy bits and a delicate savoury quality.

SILVER: Kyoto (Matcha & Mibuna)

A chocolate with bursts of flavour. The Mibuna (Kyoto pickled vegetables with salt) are set into a Matcha flavoured white chocolate. Texture is happily present with crisp bits, and there is a seaweedy quality that the sweetness of white chocolate carries well.

SILVER: Strawberry Jam

With lovely crunches of texture from strawberries baked under high pressure, this tastes like nothing so much as a perfect fresh strawberry ice cream. Delicious.

Dark chocolate bars with a filling

SILVER: Spicy Mineral

The coating of crisp dark chocolate reveals taste and texture to savour. With characteristic melding of East and West there is almond praline and Konbu combining to deliver crispiness, savoury notes, umami and the smooth depth of chocolate.

Bars – Milk chocolate bars flavoured with an infusion or flavouring

SILVER: Fukinoto

Nut based pralines with dark chocolate

GOLD: Golden Sesame Praline

A praline is here made from caramelized golden sesame seeds. Deeply toasted sesame results in a very crisp, delicately textured and darkly toasted complexity. Enrobed in dark chocolate, the whole is a smoky, nutty, crispy bit of heaven.

Milk chocolate ganaches or truffles

GOLD: Kaffir Lime Leaves

This is an exceptionally pretty piece with excellent delivery of flavour. Creamy and rich with kaffir lime.

Nut based pralines with milk chocolate

GOLD: Matcha
SILVER: Sakekasu Praline

Another fine praline from Susumu Koyama, this one has shards of marcona almonds and flakes of sakekasu (a by product of sake production). A balance of interesting flavour and texture that sets this chocolatier apart and is universally thrilling.

Ganaches or truffles using mixed dark/milk/white for coating and fillings

GOLD: Yuzu-Miso

With yusu juice in a smooth ganache and miso this has an amazingly zingy and intensely flavoured filling.

SILVER: Burnt Soy

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Chocolopolis (United States)

Chocolopolis 2014 World Champions

Chocolopolis 2014 World Champions

Winning at the International Chocolate Awards is an incredible honor and holds special meaning for us. The team involved in judging the awards is known for its single-origin chocolate expertise, and has some of the most experienced chocolate palates in the fine chocolate movement.

We are privileged to have competed with many fantastic Chocolatiers from around the world and to be recognized as creating world-class truffles.

– Lauren Adler

Based in the Seattle, Chocolopolis is a chocolate shop passionate about teaching and converting people to fine flavour cacao and the chocolate that artisan makers are creating from it.

Stocking over 200 bars from 20 countries, their aim is to get customers tasting the differences between single origin cacaos, and the work of the different makers they stock. In so doing they are championing the very finest chocolate made around the world, and creating understanding of its excellence.

They spread the word about what it takes to make fine chocolate, and the results, through blogging and in store tastings and classes.

They also make a range of fine chocolate treats in house, and it is three of their delicious truffles that have seen them win a gold and two silver awards in the world finals this year.


Unflavoured dark chocolate ganaches and truffles

GOLD: Madagascar Craft Truffle

A clean and classic chocolate truffle, a smooth ganache gives a good delivery of a fine Madagascan 74% couverture. Easy to like.

SILVER: House Blend Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate Truffle

White – flavoured filled chocolates

SILVER: Lemon Lavender Truffle

A superbly balanced and easy thing to like. This gets the tricky use of lavender bang on, with no soapiness, just a happy floral note added to the citrus, lifting the sweet creamy white chocolate to just the right place.

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Ika Chocolate (Israel)


This achievement is not obvious. I feel very lucky to gain such significant achievements for doing what I love so much. The fact that a small scale chocolatier from Israel is on the list of the world’s greatest chocolatiers is very exciting especially when competing with great chocolatiers from Japan (which has become in recent years a strong chocolate superpower, highly appreciated).

– Ika

Ika, a redoubtable woman, is founder and creator of Ika chocolates, a unique award winning chocolate shop in Tel Aviv.

After military service and a first career in the media, Ika pursued her passion for chocolate by researching and working all around the globe. She spent time on plantations in Mexico, understanding the biological and historical origins of chocolate.

With a reverence for the quality of French chocolate and chocolatiers she chose to train in France. She worked for an incredible trio of masters, Jacques Genin, Jean Charles Rochoux at Michel Chaudun, and Hugues Pouget at Guy Savoy. She also studied at the famous Valrhona Ecole du Grand Chocolat, the Ecole Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil and the Barry Callebaut Academy.

Her own chocolate business, a small shop and workshop, was opened in March 2011. It is designed to allow the chocolate making that Ika loves so much to be seen by all.

She brings to the chocolate making community a commitment to excellence, a passion for her chosen subject, and an exciting culinary culture and location that she is beginning to introduce to the joys of fine chocolate.


Flavoured dark chocolate ganaches and truffles

GOLD: Za’atar Ganache

Using fine dark chocolate and the Za’atar spice of her native Israel Ika has created a delicious thing. The fine spice is very much in evidence in the mouth, but delicately used. Delicious and beguiling.

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Svenningsen Chocolatier (Denmark)

blueberry rosemary ganache

Blueberry rosemary ganache

I was so taken back by winning gold and silver at the world finals. I still consider myself “the happy amateur”. Coming from 28 years in advertising and graphic design, this is a whole new world. I have only been at it for just two years. I just now starting to comprehend that i won, that i can say i make some of the finest chocolate in the world. That you can do good stuff even if i am only a one person company. The awards has generated interest from abroad, which is so exciting and challenging. But also what i believe it will be a catalyst in helping me develop and grow…

It was a learning period, the first aprox 14 months, trying to find the right chocolate to work with. Heavens, i have tried i don’t know how many different brands!! Then i met Mikkel (Friis Holm) in february/march last year. Almost didn’t dare contact him…., but thank god i did.

He was supportive from day one, recognising my passion, but especially the uncompromising approach to using only ingredients that i believe in. I grow, harvest, forage almost all my ingredients myself. Make all purees, syrups etc for my ganaches and infusions. And then i make my chocolates by hand. I don’t make it easy for myself.

Peter Svenningsen

Peter Svenningsen

Coming from advertising, i believe in a mantra from one of the grand old men of advertising from NY in the 60’s called Bill Bernbach. He said “the magic is in the product”. For me its all about the chocolate, i strive to make an intense, dark, rich piece of chocolate. I am not into overly sweet, perfumed tastes. I like to take something different, something unconventional, and fuse it with a pure, high end, quality chocolate and then see what happens. But I’m not interested in making something completely radical…, never a bacon chocolate!!

And i love using local and Nordic ingredients. But not as a dogma, because like my olive oil yuzu piece that won the silver, some times i just find an ingredient that is so interesting and of a quality that i have to try it.

Next step: to keep on doing what i do, to find new exciting ingredients and to learn more about chocolate. To find new people that share my beliefs, and to develop. I have now made contact with a Dane, who produces some of the finest natural mineral water in the world. Pumped form below the Danish peninsula, tested as the cleanest in Denmark, a bacteria level of 0. I’m working with an Icelandic salt maker, using Icelandic sea salt and liquorice (Danes love their liquorice). So my plan are to be back at the International awards next year!

– Peter Svenningsen

Originally a graphic designer, in 2007 Peter Svenningsen trained as a chocolatier. In 2012 he established Choconord, his chocolate company working dedicated to making the best possible chocolates he can, with ingredients he cares about, reflecting his Nordic upbringing and the culture that he loves. His own words above speak so clearly of his work and his passion for it.


Flavoured dark chocolate ganaches and truffles

GOLD: Wild Blueberry (Johe chocolate)

Working with chocolate from fellow Dane Friis Holm, Peter Svenningsen has taken blueberries from Jutland and added a touch of rosemary. A water based ganache ensures a delicate, fruity, zingy and exceptionally good result.

SILVER: Lazy olive/yuzu

Pairing the natural olive notes of a Nicaraguan chocolate with olive oil, and lifting the whole with yuzu, this dairy free chocolate is full of delicious acidity and zip.

SILVER: Spruce infusion (Nicaliso chocolate)

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Malarchocolaterie Swedish Chocolate Luxury (Sweden)


It was of course a really good feeling to get the good news about a gold and a bronze award. Apart from the good feelings, it is even more important for us to get recognition for our work the past 12 years. That is a real encouragement and inspiration for further creations.

– Thomas & Elaine


Dark fruit pastes, jellies/gelée, enrobed whole fruits, liquid centres with alcohol, fondants

GOLD: Pear

A dark ganache, pear cognac, and pear paste combine to create a pear infused chocolate that is elegant and delicate.

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Chez Christophe Chocolaterie Patisserie (Canada)


We are immensely honoured to have won this award. We were inspired to create this flavour profile by our previous journey in Australia. Chocolate is about sharing, and we wished to share a glimpse of our Australian experience with Canada.

– Christophe Bonzon

A classically trained patissier and chocolatier, Christophe has had extensive grounding in his chosen art in France and his native Switzerland.

His love of chocolate was kick-started by making truffles with his mother at the age of ten. This passion never left him, and has grown into an eminent career in chocolate, pastry and sugar work.

He has trained at many of the great schools, including l’Ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona. His working life has seen him as Executive Pastry Chef in top establishments in Switzerland, Australia and Canada.

At Chez Christophe in Burnaby it is possible to indulge in a range of viennoiserie, baked goods and fine patisserie, as well as the chocolates for which he is featured here.


White chocolate ganaches or truffles

GOLD: Bonbons Ananas Avocat

An intriguing idea turns out to be an absolute winner of a chocolate. A white chocolate shell is filled with a pineapple and avocado ganache infused with vanilla and Szechuan pepper, in addition to a soft pineapple jelly and lime zest. The result tastes like nothing so much as the best possible doughnut, with zingy fruit jam! A treat of sweetness and light, caramel and brightness. Wonderful.

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Piccola Pasticceria (Italy)

Piccola patsticceria

Entering the International Chocolate Awards each year brings me to improve and deepen not only chocolate but the primary materials I use, and to compare the taste buds around the world.

Having the recognition of International Chocolate Awards made me confident that I was adding value to my work for my clients.

– Yumiko Saimura

Piccola Pasticceria Facebook page

Piccola Pasticceria is the creation of Japanese chocolatier Yumiko Saimura. Yumiko moved from Japan to Italy in 2004, to further her knowledge of Italian food and wine. After meeting partner Angelina, they opened the Piccola Pasticceria workshop in 2008 in the heart of Piedmont. Having represented Italy in the World Chocolate Masters in 2010/2011, Yumiko decided to focus on chocolate and cocoa, both in her chocolate work but also for her pastry creations. With their location in Piedmont, IGP hazelnuts are of course an important ingredient for Piccola Pasticceria, joining with their other raw ingredients and chocolate, with which Yumiko seeks to create unique tastes and textures to excite the palate.


Milk – Gianduiotto

GOLD: Piccolo Gianjuja

Milk – Fruit pastes, jellies/gelée, enrobed whole fruits, liquid centres with alcohol, fondants

SILVER:– Banana

Banana is paired with ginger, a happy and natural partner in this chocolate from Italy.

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L’Artigiano dei filli Gardini snc (Italy)


A family business, L’Artigiano dei filli Gardini is currently run by the grandchildren of the original founders. What Filippo and Mentana started as a bakery in the 50s, grew into a pastry business in the sixties under their daughter Maria. In 1987 the third generation began to focus on chocolate, and called their business ‘L’Artigiano’ (The Artisan) as it reflected their intentions and the identity of their business and their products.

They now own and run their chocolate workshops in Forli and have built a showroom, to allow others to learn about artisanal chocolate production, and taste their chocolates direct. While they sell through specialist retailers and suppliers in Italy, Europe and the United States, they aim to use only Italian produce wherever possible for the inclusions in their chocolates.

Both awards won in the International Chocolate Awards were for their ‘Cremino’, a traditional Italian creation, involving layers of soft chocolate, milk, white, or dark. Both the award winners had a flavoured layer complementing a milk chocolate base. In texture, taste and innovative recipes they are world class.


Flavoured milk chocolate cremino

GOLD: Cremino Amarena

A double layer of dark and milk fine gianduja in a large size cremino, best eaten slicing with a knife. Sour cherries in the centre add a classic touch to a pure hazelnut flavour.

SILVER: Cremino Liquerizia

A modern touch to the fine two-tone milk and dark cremino, adding ground liquorice to create a tantalising combination with a real edge.

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Slitti (Italy)

Andrea Slitti

Andrea Slitti

It’s very important for me to participate in these international competitions, where I have the chance to let my products to be tasted by professional Juries.
The continuous victories that we receive are, for me, a confirmation of our products’ quality.

– Andrea Slitti

The Slitti company began life as coffee specialists. With access to a coffee roasting workshop as a child, at the foot of his father, coffee is an ingredient with which Andrea Slitti has a great affinity. It was even the similarity of the cocoa bean to coffee that led to his first experiments with the larger bean.

Since starting to produce chocolate in 1988, Andrea Slitti has shown flair and excellence. He has been winning awards at an international level for his work and his chocolates since the early 1990s. Slitti chocolate is sold from Asia to Australasia and most places in between. He has a keen focus on blending beans to satisfy his palate, and developing machinery to make to his standards. He is also a member of the jury of the World Chocolate Masters.

With Italian flair and ingredients, the nut-based products winning awards this year showcase Slitti’s mastery of an area of the chocolate kitchen in which Italians are hard to beat. Avola almonds and Piedmontese hazelnuts are used to glorious effect.

The gold medal winning milk chocolate spread proved to be world class in a category in which Italian makers excel. There will have been stiff competition.

All three awards at the finals of the International Chocolate Awards continue to cement Andre Slitti’s position on the worldwide stage.


Milk chocolate dragées, enrobed whole nuts

GOLD: Mandorle d’Avola (Almonds from Avola)

A mastery of nuts, or shell fruits as they call them, is at the heart of all Italian pastry and chocolate making. What could be more simple, or more divine, than fine almonds enrobed in great milk chocolate.

Spreads with dark chocolate

SILVER – Gianera

Spreads with milk chocolate

GOLD: Riccosa

The Italians rule the roost when it comes to chocolate spreads. Famous for the ‘gianduja’ style, combining top quality hazelnuts with chocolate, few others can come close to Italy’s best. Riccosa is a perfect match of finest Piedmont hazelnuts with cacao, sugar and just enough milk powder for an irresistible result. This may be a chocolate spread, but it’s far too good to waste on bread or toast. Recommended eating method – a spoon, a jar and a little privacy!

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Clement Chococult (Germany)

Clement Chococult's production site is housed in the former train station, Bahnhof Bernried.

Clement Chococult’s production site is housed in the former train station, Bahnhof Bernried.

Clement Chococult’s production site is housed in the former train station, Bahnhof Bern Ried, south west of Munich in southern Germany

Clement Chococult is the creation of passionate chocolatier Franz Xaver Clement. In workshops in the historic train station building he makes a range of chocolates and bars. The workshops still house elements of the building’s past life, and all of this is visible, along with the manufacture of the chocolates, through the glass walls of the facility.

This is a fine German maker of traditional and handmade products with a focus on quality and sourcing.


Milk – Fruit pastes, jellies/gelée, enrobed whole fruits, liquid centres with alcohol, fondants

GOLD: Amazona

Mango, banana and kalamansi lime make up the fruit cocktail of flavours in this zingy fresh creation.

BRONZE: Limoncello Truffes

Milk chocolate enrobed caramels

SILVER: Maracuja Caramell Truffes

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