Serious work at the chocolate awards2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Did you know that the business of chocolate tasting is even more complicated than wine tasting? Along with taste, the colour and texture of the chocolate, its sheen and even the sound it makes when you break a piece off must be just right. This is according to Elle (Coco) Crocker, chief judge at the 2022 New Zealand Chocolate awards held in October at Onehunga High School.
Artisan chocolate makers were put to the test at the school’s new technology block, where 15 expert judges spent the day blind tasting all kinds of chocolate, from milk and plain chocolate through to novelty Christmas chocolates.
The awards are designed to support and promote artisan chocolate makers from all over New Zealand. Open to any commercial chocolate manufacturer, there were 148 entries from 33 New Zealand chocolatiers competing in the 10 categories. Each category winner then competed for the Supreme Award.
The judges must also prepare their palates before any event. No smoking, or vaping, as it damages the taste buds. No spices or curries the night before; even the morning coffee has to be sacrificed. They have to limit alcohol because, “the sugar sends your taste buds to sleep.”
Along with promoting the chocolatiers of New Zealand, the awards try to educate people about how to fully enjoy good chocolate. According to Coco, one of the reasons many people do not like dark chocolate is that they eat too much in one sitting. She says the secret is “little and often.” The trick is to chew it a little and let part of it go to the top of your mouth. Then breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, this will release the flavours.
She also says chocolate can accompany almost anything. Coco says she often enjoys dark chocolates after a roast meal, and she admits one of her guilty pleasures is a bit of good chocolate with a rum nightcap.
The Supreme Award winner was Lucid Chocolatier’s 68% Port from their Inquisitive Collection range. The full list of the winners is at nzchocolateawards.co.nz/.