Benjamin Dufour, demi chef de partie at Harrods, London, has been crowned the winner of the 2019 UK and Ireland Junior Chocolate Masters.
Dufour fought off tough competition against four other highly talented junior pastry chefs aged between 18 and 24, who gathered at the Callebaut UK Chocolate Academy in Banbury earlier this month.
The contestants had to accomplish three demanding tasks: a chocolate showpiece (minimum height 75cm), moulded snacking bar and a vegan plated chocolate dessert, following the theme ‘Thriving Nature’ – an illustration of the pledge of the chocolate brand Cacao Barry to be deforestation free and carbon neutral by 2025.
Dufour impressed the judges with his preparation, calm demeanour and risk-taking attitude and now, as part of his prize, will now attend a chocolate showpiece course by Lawrence Bobo at the Callebaut Chocolate Academy center in Belgium next September.
The competition was judged by pastry and chocolate experts including: Graham Hornigold, former executive pastry chef at Hakkasan Group, and now pastry consultant at Smart Patisserie co-founded with Heather Kaniuk; pastry consultant and president of the UK pastry team Coupe du Monde, Martin Chiffers and Christa Muyldermans, Chocolate Academy chef.
Julie Sharp, development chef for Callebaut, said: “We are really delighted by the growth of this competition which gives the youngsters the opportunity to perfect their chocolate skills. We feel proud of all chefs that have competed over the past eight years, which strengthens further the cacao collective community.”
The five finalists were:
• Benjamin Dufour, demi chef de partie, Harrods, London
• Adam Cleal, head pastry chef, Palé Hall Hotel, North Wales
• Georgia Roberts, demi chef de partie, Lainston House, Winchester
• Bethanie Dove, commis chef, the Savoy, London
• Patrick Hilder, National Bakery School student and pastry chef at Arras, York