Peebles chocolatier Ruth Hinks helped Scotland unseat the Swiss and Belgians for chocolate, by securing the UK’s highest place in the World Chocolate Masters.
Ruth, who runs Cocoa Black chocolate and pastry school and patisserie with her husband David, finished in the top five of 19 other national champions at the tournament in Paris, which propelled her into the world-class of chocolate-makers.
“I was very, very happy,” she told The Southern. “The standard is so high: never in a million years did I think I’d come in the top five. It was great for the UK and myself.”
By just getting as far as the championship, Ruth had already became the UK’s first female Chocolate Master, but her performance has made her the UK’s best candidate in the competition’s 10-year history, beating chocolatiers in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. Previously, the highest-placed UK competitor came seventh.
But it was close, she admitted: “There were a few unfortunate candidates whose showpiece collapsed before judging. I was lucky – mine collapsed shortly afterwards.”
Italy’s Davide Comaschi was crowned the 2013 World Chocolate Master, and in second place was Marike Van Beurden from the Netherlands, with Deniz Karaca from Australia in third.
The World Chocolate Masters is the only culinary competition based on the performance of an individual. This year’s theme was The Architecture of Taste.
In interpreting the theme, Ruth based her work on the honeybee which she described as “nature’s architect”.
Day one involved the assembly of the chocolate showpiece.
“The showpiece is the category which really captures the public’s attention,” Ruth said. “Most people are astonished when they see what can be created out of chocolate.”
She told us: “The pressure’s on and the tension’s pretty high: everybody’s there to win. Everything’s timed, and you’re trying to get your timings right. You can start off shaky, and forget things, but you’ve just got to keep your cool. I really like pressure. I thrive on it.”
The panel of international judges was full of praise for Ruth’s other chocolate delicacies. The jury’s president, the three-Michelin starred chef Sergio Herman, called her chocolate cake “absolutely incredible”, which she described as “a wonderful feeling”.
Robert Harrison of the competition’s sponsors added: “My warmest congratulations go out to Ruth; the World Chocolate Masters is the most demanding culinary competition in the world and to become the highest-ever seeded GB entrant is a testament to Ruth’s hard work during these last two years.”
Were the French and Belgians a bit peeved to lose to the UK? “I think they were,” Ruth laughed. “They didn’t talk to me, but hey ho, it was their fault. And also being a woman [had something to do with it]. French chefs don’t give out compliments, but one did say, ‘It pains me to say Ms Hinks’ desserts are amazing’.”
Speaking after the competition, Ruth said: “The past 24 months have been a wonderful journey. To compete against 19 national champions in an event streamed live online is about as intense as it gets. To finish the competition officially recognised as one of the top five chocolatiers in the world is incredible to me.
“I had a huge amount of support from my family, my coach Martin Chiffers (president of the UK Pastry Team) and I’d also like to thank the many supporters who travelled to Paris and those who voted for my showpiece online – thank you everyone.”
After some well-deserved relaxation with her family, Ruth and David will concentrate on launching their new Cocoa Black Chocolate & Pastry School, and Ruth revealed: “I’m also in discussions with a few companies about TV shows, international demonstrations and brand-ambassador roles which could be exciting.”