By: Helena Stallings, Culinary Arts Student
On June 16th, the American Chef Federation and the Colorado Chef Association teamed up in Denver to hold a chocolate demonstration and chocolatier competition. In total there were only 8 pastry chefs competing and our very own Chef Ashlea Tobeck represented the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The event was held at the Metropolitan State University, Hospitality Learning Center in downtown Denver and sponsored by Shamrock Foods and de Zaan chocolates. The chocolatier competitors were given as much time as they needed to prep beforehand and 1 hour of designated prep time in the kitchens before the judging. While the competitors were prepping their plates, the Master Chocolatier Derrick Pho of de Zaan Chocolates, held a chocolate demonstration with the help of 3 Escoffier culinary students.
The guidelines for the competition were that each chef was given a basket consisting of 3 kinds of de Zaan chocolates; white, milk and dark. The competitors had to produce 3 plated desserts for the judges and 75 samples for the event guests. Aside from having to use the chocolates, the creativity and of use of the product was left completely up to the chefs. Needless to say, the range of creativity in these plates was astounding. Chef Ashlea produced a chocolate spongecake sandwich with roasted white chocolate pipped in the center and topped with a dark chocolate ganache and a candied hazelnut/bacon crumble. While some of the other chefs produced chocolate bbq chicken wings, chocolate ravioli and the traditional chocolate truffles. Although Chef Ashlea did not win, her plated desserts not only tasted like chocolate heaven, they were a perfect example of simple and beautiful plating techniques.