Cacao Barry – the premium French brand of chocolate and cocoa products for gourmet professionals – announced that Chef Melissa Coppel has joined its international Ambassador Club. The invitation-only Club includes a membership of more than 100 pastry chefs and chocolatiers from more than 20 countries around the world.

Coppel, an internationally recognized chocolatier located in Las Vegas, is one of only ten Cacao Barry Ambassadors in the United States.

“The Ambassador Club is an essential extension of the Cacao Barry brand,” said Alexandra Urbe-Adams, Senior Brand Manager, Region Americas. “It includes talented professionals who, in addition to their full-time jobs, support Cacao Barry with various projects throughout the year. Our brand thrives on educating and inspiring chefs across the United States. Without the Ambassador Club, this transfer of knowledge would not be possible.”

Chef Coppel’s modern approach to bonbon making was among the many reasons she was invited to join the Ambassador Club.  Her creations deliver a contemporary look, infused with powerful flavor combinations, while maintaining the utmost respect for quality. Furthermore, her impressive multi-segment experience includes positions at fine dining restaurants and luxury hotels, operating her own chocolatier business, while teaching and consulting. As a new Ambassador, she will be featured in monthly Cacao Barry chocolatier-focused communications that will introduce other artisans to her world.

"I feel so grateful and honored for this amazing opportunity to be part of such an incredible group of professionals,” said Chef Melissa Coppel. “As chocolate artisans, it is important to have a strong connection between who we are and what we do. Creative, evolutional and daring are words that perfectly describe me, and that is also reflected in my work style. I’m truly excited to be able to share this perspective about chocolate-making with others.”

Chef Coppel left her home country of Colombia in 2004 to study pastry in Argentina under French Pastry Chef Olivier Hanocq, a LeNôtre disciple.  She then moved to Chicago to continue her studies at The French Pastry School. In 2006 she moved to Las Vegas to work at Joël Robuchon at the Mansion, a three-star Michelin restaurant. In less than a year, she was asked to run the pastry kitchen of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon under Executive Pastry Chef Kamel Guechida.

She quickly discovered her true passion for chocolate and moved to Caesar’s Palace where
she managed all of the chocolate production for the casino. In 2009, Chef Coppel accepted a position at Bellagio Hotel and Casino where she worked under Chef Jean Marie Auboine. Two years later, she partnered with Auboine to open Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier in Las Vegas.

Throughout her career Chef Coppel has been recognized for her exceptional chocolate artistry, winning several industry awards. In 2012 she won the Pastry Live “People’s Choice” Award and placed second overall in the “Chocolatier of the Year” competition in Atlanta. In 2013 she returned to the Pastry Live competition where she reclaimed the “People’s Choice” Award and won the title of “Chocolatier of the Year”.

Chef Coppel is the owner of Sucre LLC Consulting where she spends her time teaching and inspiring other chocolate artisans. She is currently writing a book about chocolate that is scheduled for release in 2017.

In addition to Chef Coppel, the Cacao Barry USA Ambassador team includes:

Dimitri Fayard – Executive Pastry Chef at The Peninsula, Chicago

Lauren Haas – Dpt. Chair, Pastry Chef Instructor at Johnson & Wales, Providence, RI

Franck Iglesias – Executive Pastry Chef at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT

Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer and Chef Sébastien Canonne – Co-founders of The French Pastry School, Chicago

Rocco Lugrine – Pastry Chef Instructor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia

Frédéric Monti – Corporate Pastry Chef at PreGel America, Concord, NC

Gabriele Riva –  Owner of Gabriele Riva Boutique, Long Island City, Queens, NY

Amanda Rockman – Executive Pastry Chef at South Congress Hotel, Austin, TX