On Monday, October 28, Valrhona held the North American Final of its Chocolate Chef Competition (C3) in partnership with StarChefs during the annual International Chefs Congress in Brooklyn. The C3 brings together leading pastry chefs to compete and showcase their talents against one another.

For this fifth edition of the C3, six North American candidates presented original recipes for plated desserts and petits fours made using Valrhona BAHIBÉ 46% single origin milk chocolate from the Dominican Republic.

The six pastry chef candidates were:

  • Desarae Bittle – the Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
  • Kevin Clemenceau – andSons Chocolatiers, Beverly Hills
  • Takunori Hirayama – Duo Pâtisserie, Markham, Ontario
  • Jim Hutchison – Winvian Farm, Morris, Connecticut
  • Eunji Lee – Junksik, New York City
  • Weilu Wang – Eleven Madison Park, New York City

This year’s event, the first time it taken place on U.S. soil since 2015, was won by Chef Kevin Clemenceau of andSons Chocolatiers in Beverly Hills, California. Chef Clemenceau’s petits fours, titled “The Marias,” were made with cocoa streusel, crunchy praliné and cocoa nibs, chocolate disk decorations, BAHIBÉ 46% chantilly, BAHIBÉ salted butter caramel, and cocoa nibs and gold leaf decors. He was inspired by modern pastry styles and the cocoa flavor in BAHIBÉ 46%. For his plated dessert, titled “Neyba,” Chef Clemenceau was inspired by the flavors of BAHIBÉ 46% in combination with different spices, nuts and a touch of acidity. and featured vanilla-tonka crème Anglaise, cocoa streusel, BAHIBÉ 46% crèmeux, BAHIBÉ 46% Bavaroise mousse, BAHIBÉ 46% miror glaze, yuzu sauce, BAHIBÉ 46% chocolate decor, rocher glaze, and hazelnut and cocoa nib nougatine.

The runner-up was Chef Eunji Lee of Jungsik in New York City. Chef Lee’s petits fours, titled “Roasted Chestnut,” consisted of cognac cream, chestnut cream, BAHIBÉ 46% cocoa butter mixture, black painting, chestnut powder, a chocolate tuile, and BAHIBÉ-chestnut crunchy. The inspiration came from her love of October and one of her favorite French desserts, Chestnut Mont Blanc. Her plated dessert, titled “GIWA,” was made with sesame cream, sesame crunchy, soy sauce caramel, coconut sorbet, gray spray chocolate, sesame tuile, a BAHIBÉ giwa, BAHIBÉ brownie, BAHIBÉ crèmeux, chocolate feuilletage, and a BAHIBÉ chocolate sablé crumble. The dessert was inspired by Korean traditional roof tiles, or GIWA, whose color matches the black sesame flavor. Lee wanted to highlight Korean culture, as well as American flavors.

The Press Prize Winner was Chef Jim Hutchinson of Winvian Farm in Morris, Connecticut. Chef Hutchison’s petits fours, titled “LYM (Love You More),” were made with a combination of his favorite flavors in one bite – coconut BAHIBÉ 46% whipped ganache, Szechuan peppercorn financier, and a passion fruit gel center. His gluten-free plated dessert, titled “LKS (Last Known Surroundings),” featured whipped BAHIBÉ ganache, BAHIBÉ crèmeux, brown butter vanilla ice cream, crispy ORELYS 35%, vanilla chantilly, gluten-free chocolate dacquoise, yuzu curd, caramel banana filling, and chocolate work. The dish was inspired by the fresh, acidic fruits of Bali combined with American flavors.

“Something that this competition does is that it starts to show a trend in the industry,” says Chef Keegan Gerhard, the host of the competition. “I’m really intrigued by how we’re going away from the flowing desserts to the center-plated again. I believe, with chocolate, it’s to showcase the décor. I think competition changes the industry … Tomorrow, people will start to see and do this décor or this flavor.”

The competing pastry chefs were selected through a written application process to compete in the Regional North American C3. The winner will represent North America on March 5, 2020 in Singapore at the International C3 Final and will compete against the winners of the six other C3 regional qualifiers from around the world.

See more of the 2019 North American Chocolate Chef Competition in our slideshow.