THE ULTIMATE JOB? MORE THAN 135 CHOCOLATES ARE BEING ASSESSED IN THE NZ CHOCOLATE AWARDS 2018Flavour combos including Blue Cheese Toffee and Caramel, Raspberry & Pink Peppercorn Caramel, Jelly Tip, and Sarsaparilla and Candied Orange are among more than 135 locally crafted chocolates being judged at the NZ Chocolate Awards 2018.At Fresh Factory on Wednesday 12 September, 15 of the country’s luckiest (and most dedicated) pastry chefs and food writers are assessing 136 chocolates which have all been made in New Zealand.Head judge Elle Crocker aka Elle Coco says:

I’m looking forward to being part of the awards this year and checking out the best of New Zealand’s artisan chocolates. Having previously judged for the UK Academy of Chocolate Awards and the International Chocolate Awards, with some unique and delicious entries, I can’t wait to see what the chocolate industry in New Zealand has in store. I’m particularly excited to explore authentic Kiwi flavours.

Elle says it’s great to see chocolatiers drawing on their local environment by using locally sourced ingredients to create chocolates reflective of New Zealand and its produce. Two entries feature Central Otago Pinot Noir; Pinot Trilogy - Rabbit Ranch Mallow Gel Chocolate made with left over grape skins from Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir and an Akarua Pinot Noir Bon Bon. Sticking with the Kiwi theme; there’s an ANZAC Chocolate Bar and a bar with Horopito & Kawakawa.Chocolates Hip Group 2017Fifteen of the country’s finest pastry chefs and food writers are assisting Elle Coco with the judging. They are: Luke Owen Smith, Ganesh Khedekar, Shaun Tyagi, Trudi Nelson, Sam Mannering, Sarah Harrap, Kathy Paterson, Vicky Ravlich Horan, Manthena, Jaz Kaur, Ginny Grant, Emma Rawson, Anna King Shahab, Lorna Subritzky and Kimberley Dixon.  NZ Chocolate Awards organiser Kathie Bartley said it was pleasing to see an increase in entries from last year’s inaugural awards, which is a testament to the strength of the country’s burgeoning craft chocolate industry.Particularly exciting is the Made with Chocolate category, which is for goods made using local or imported chocolate. Judges on this category will be assessing 21 entries including Choc Chip Cookies, Salted Honey Caramel Kisses, Chunky Macadamia Nut Praline Bar, Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Coated Cashew Nuts to name but a few.Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners will be announced on Tuesday 18 September. Best in Class winners including the Supreme Champion will be announced on the eve of the NZ Chocolate and Coffee Show at The Cloud on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October.Kathie made special mention of the NZ Chocolate Awards partners without whom the awards would not be possible; they are Fresh Factory, Intermedia NZ, Marvellous Marketing, Label & Litho, NZ Life & Leisure and Antipodes.

WHAT . NZ CHOCOLATE AWARDS JUDGING, 15 judges assess 135 NZ-made chocolates and chocolate productsWHERE . Fresh Factory, 6 – 10 Nikau Street, Eden Terrace, AucklandWHEN . Wednesday 12 September, 10am – 3pmHOW . To arrange photos and filming please contact co-organiser  Nicola McConnell on 027 2188120 or nicola@marvellousmarketing.co.nz
EDITORS NOTE . Elle Coco is an experienced chocolate judge at the British Academy of Chocolate and the International Chocolate Awards. She recently moved to Wellington from London taking the long route and starting in Mexico, before covering off all of Central America and the western countries of South America, to visit cacao plantations, meeting growers and tasting chocolate along the way.In London, Elle ran chocolate making workshops and classes for British chocolatiers, department stores and global companies, including William Curley Patisserie, Harrods and PWC. In addition to running workshops, Elle has worked with new and established chocolate makers, including Damson Chocolate (UK), Tri Island Chocolate (Grenada, Caribbean) and Stamba Chocolatier (Georgia, Caucasus). Elle has hosted education and tasting sessions at London’s ‘The Chocolate Show’ and ‘The Grenada Chocolate Festival’ in the Caribbean.