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The CS Interview: Ruth Hinks, UK Chocolate Master

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The CS Interview: Ruth Hinks, UK Chocolate Master

October 21
20:07 2013
Ruth Hinks landscape.jpg

Ruth Hinks, proprietor of the Cocoa Black Chocolate & Pastry School, near Peeble, has been selected to represent Great Britain in the World Chocolate Masters Finals from 28th-30th October. caught up with her as she prepares for the biggest competition of her life…

Q: Congratulations on being the UK’s candidate for the WCM Finals. What does it mean to you to have reached this stage?

A: It’s an honour to represent the UK at the World Chocolate Masters. It’s certainly the high point of my career so far.

Q: The title of UK Chocolate Master wasn’t the first major award you’ve picked up. Are the WCM finals the ultimate competition?

A: The World Chocolate Masters is the ultimate professional challenge for chocolatiers. I’ve always loved competition and in progressing to this stage in my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and compete against many great chefs at international competitions.

Q: There are only a few weeks to go until the big event. How have you been preparing for it?

A: I’ve been training 25 hours a week for the past 12 months. My preparations initially began with interpreting the competition theme – The Architecture of Taste – and progressed to working on the technical elements of each element of the competition.

Q: As owner of the Cocoa Black School, have you been experimenting and trying out new creations with your customers and colleagues?

A: Our aim with the Chocolate & PastrySchool is to teach chefs and home enthusiasts the professional skills required to work with chocolate and pastry. Competitions are a great way to remain up to date on the latest techniques and trends. In preparing for the World Chocolate Masters, I’ve been working closely with the Barry Callebaut ambassadors, the former UK Chocolate Master, Mark Tilling, and the President of the UK Pastry Team, Martin Chiffers. During our sessions, we’ve uncovered a number of new techniques which I’m looking forward to revealing in Paris.

Q: The WCM is famously competitive and features several ambitious, driven chefs locking horns to scoop the ultimate prize. Who will you be paying particular attention to, and what can you do to ensure you come up trumps when it counts?

A: Everyone who makes it through to the finals is top of their game, and I’ve been lucky enough to compete at international competitions throughout my career. Japan and France traditionally do well and there are a number of countries really coming through. Success in professional competition is about experience, preparation, and being able to keep a cool head on the day.

Q: Scotland has its fair share of patissiers and chocolatiers, but it’s still a rare and coveted art form. What do you think the industry could do to encourage, inspire and nurture tomorrow’s chefs in this area?

A: The options for students seeking to learn the skills required to work with chocolate and pastry are limited within the UK, and many people learn fairly basic techniques either at work or at college. Properly structured, skills-based training is key to ensuring that tomorrows’ chocolatiers and pastry chefs are able to raise the bar in this industry. 

Q: Scotland needs more people as skilled as you and your colleagues. Do you have any advice for up-and-coming talents who are hoping to specialise in patisserie and chocolate?

A: Book a class at the CocoaBlackChocolate & PastrySchool! Other than that, find the best talent in the industry and seek work experience. Then get as much experience as possible, as there is a lot to learn.

Organised by Callebaut, Cacao Barry and Carma, World Chocolate Masters is the ultimate competition in which chocolatiers, pastry chefs and other chocolate professionals compete for the World Chocolate Master title.


Ruth Hinks square 2.jpg meets UK Chocolate Master, Ruth Hinks, as she prepares for the World Chocolate Masters in October…


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