As the Tandem Tasters, Brenda and I thoroughly enjoyed judging the Oregon Chocolate Festival. It is difficult to imagine judging hundreds of entries from all over the world. Of all the chocolates mentioned, the only one I know well is the Valrhona. Everything I’ve tasted from them is exceptional.

The Academy of Chocolate Awards are now a fixture in the chocolate worlds calendar and receive hundreds of entries from all over the world. This year was another record year for the Academy with over 400 products and four days of judging.

Two entries in the bean to bar dark chocolate category (companies responsible for sourcing and processing their own beans) tied this year for the Golden Bean with equal average scores – Duffy’s Chocolate, Honduras Indio Rojo 72% bar and Amedei No 9 75%. While Italian chocolate maker Amedei has consistently won golds and silvers over the years, Briton Duffy Sheardown is a newcomer to chocolate making and has done remarkably well to impress the judges and win this award. As a result Duffy has also been awarded the Best Newcomer Award.

Best Filled Chocolate is awarded to William Curley for his Muscovado Caramel. Best flavoured bar award goes to France’s Valrhona for it’s Manjari orange. Best Milk chocolate goes to France’s Michel Cluizel for their Maralumi 47%. Best Dark truffle was won by Rococo for their Grenada 71% and Best Milk truffle by William Curley for his House milk truffle. Best Hot Chocolate to US company, Theo for their Chipotle hot chocolate. Best Packaging awards go to Askinosie for their bar wrappers which illustrate a great feeling of provenance and to Rococo for their ‘Cat that Got the Cream’ box. A full list of award winners can be found here: http://www.academyofchocolate.org.uk/academy/Awards/2011.html

With over 65 judges spread over four days – from food journalists, pastry chefs and industry professionals. These included; Benoit Blin, Charles Campion, Sarah Hartnett, Stefano Borella, Charles Metcalfe, Fred Ponnavoy (Gu), Micah Cahill (Green & Black’s), Henrietta Green and Nigel Barden.

The Academy of Chocolate was created in 2005 by 5 of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals, united in the belief that chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures. Membership has since grown but the aim remains the same, to campaign for better chocolate and promote a greater awareness between fine chocolate and mass-produced chocolate confectionery.

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