World Chocolate Awards

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
01/23/12 10:36:41PM
13 posts

I'd like to letmy fellow members of the Chocolate LifeCommunity know about the project I have been working on for a long time now, since it is shortly to be finished.

I'man avidconsumer of chocolate. Many timesthe mention of winning an award has tempted me to buy a chocolate just to see... but over the years I began to learn from my experiences andwas provoked by them tolook into these chocolate awards.As a consumer I didn't like what I found at all.

In my opinion the publics good faith has often been abused by chocolate makers and bypublic relation companies to gain anadvantage in the marketplace.

In my opinion, as a consumer, the ideal chocolate awardsarefully independent of chocolate brands and their agents. They should represent the interest of the chocolate buyer, who wants to know about and eat fantastic chocolate! I do not wish to bethe"target" ofa thinly disguised marketing excercise that takes advantage of my confidence in official looking awards.

Awards should be on the side of the consumer to assist them in finding the best chocolates for themselves. Awards shouldbe trustworthy and clearly not working for the chocolate industry directly.

Michelin does exactly this with its guide book. It works for the consumer, but in doing so it liberates the best chefs to focus on the quality of what they offer and not the quality of their marketing.

It is unlikley that a three star orone star restaurant will need to spendany money or time on marketing! Because the industry - generally -recognises the award. And in doing so they take advantage of a free, more ethical and more respectable marketing machine.

Insome similarway I hope that the World Chocolate awards can help toimprove the focus of everyone onto chocolate flavour if it becomes well known enough.

This levels the playing field too, so that the small chocolatier and the big brand compete more equally, on quality, rather than marketing clout.Andthey both can make significant savings in business costs. Perhaps chocolatiers might use some of that extra money to make chocolates more affordable for the consumer (fair tradeshouldnot stop at the delivery door of the chocolate manufacturer) invest in improving production or experimentation.

I believe that the public has a right to know the following facts when it is being offered a chocolate bar with an award on the packaging:

1 Was the winner judged against two or two hundred competitors?

2 Can I see a list of everyone who entered? Did every entry receive an award?

3 Have the organisers or judges received money, foreign trips, hospitality, free products or any kind of benefits from the winners?

4 Are the organisers or judges connected to the winners by friendship, family or business?

5 Was the award given only for the chocolates taste, or did its packaging, colour, a bubble, appearance and moulding count too?

6 Does a gold award mean that the product was the best one in its category, or were multiple gold awards given with the same title?

7 How many chocolates did the judges taste within what period of time? In other words did the judges have a reasonable amount of time to taste with a clear palate?

8 Was the award judged blind? Is the word blind being used by the award body to mean that the judges could not identify the chocolate visually, or that they only took the chocolate out of its wrapper, therefore its moulding marks ect. were visible? In other words they are bending the use of the word "blind" to a meaningless marketing term.

9 How do I know that the chocolate that won the awardis the sameas the barin the shops? Itis perfectly possible for achocolatier to donate a specially made superiorbatch of chocolate in order to win an award and gain the prestige over the honest one who takes random bars to be tasted in the competition.

10 Why are there annual awards for an industrywho's product rangedoes not change dramatically each year?

11 Why are there all these weird and wonderful extra awards for things other than the actual taste of the chocolate?

Unfortunately the answers to these questions may not be as you may expect. In some cases you may not be permitted to get an answer. I am unable to give you this information reads a reply to me from one of the most well known award bodies.Another:we never release the non-winners to anyone.

Its not wrong for chocolate makers and their agents to organise an award between themselves, but when they place their chocolate bar on the shelf next to another chocolate that doesnt participate in this type of promotion, then it is only fair to the consumer and to the other chocolate makers that it is made clear exactly the award means.

In response to these facts, theWorld Chocolate Awards are designed to represent only the interests of the public and not the chocolate makers, to inspire the publics confidence and set the highest standards for chocolate awards by being the leader in: independence, transparency, knowledge; consumer advice, number of chocolates judged, and number of countries included. No free chocolate bars are accepted and bars are bought anonymously. We are not limited to trying one chunk, nor is there any pressure to judge one, let alone one hundred, chocolates in one day. Often on more than one bar is tried. There is no time limit, or limit of chocolate.

I welcome any comments and suggestions. Sorry to be so serious - chocolate is one of the most fun things on the planet -but this is the catalyst for asignificant award that - if peoplerecognise it - will bring about a fresh new focus on appreciating flavour and not marketing.

Iam confident theWorld Chocolate Awardscan help to restoreintegrity and respect for the consumer, plusliberate the chocolatier to concentrate on making excellentchocolate. And enable a more ethical relationship between the chocolatiers and chocolate eaters. Fairer trade for consumers!

Bon appetit to all my fellow chocolate lovers!

Ian Whitaker

www.facebook.com/worldchocolateawards

www.worldchocolateawards.com

Hardback book coming soon to amazon


updated by @ian-whitaker: 04/17/15 11:17:00AM
ChocoFiles
@chocofiles
01/24/12 07:15:57AM
251 posts

I guess that the World Chocolate Awards are different from the International Chocolate Awards. <http://www.internationalchocolateawards.com/> Is that right?

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
01/24/12 08:06:48AM
13 posts

Yes they arecompletley different.

ChocoFiles
@chocofiles
01/24/12 08:16:05AM
251 posts

You did an excellent job summarizing the pitfalls of other awards that have been done in the past.

How many chocolates were included in your book? Is it only about bars or a wider range of chocolate products? How long did it take you to taste all of your entrants? I assume that you provide all of the answers for questions 1-11 that you asked above. Are those answers about your methodology included in your book?

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
01/24/12 10:01:31AM
13 posts

Thanks for the insight.

What kinds of products did you have in mind?

There are other products besides bars, but bars are the main focus. I will release more details of thiswhen the awardsbook is about to be published.

The book listsperhaps morethan one thousand bars. The book contains a list of all the chocolates tasted. Including those that did not qualify for an award.

Tasting all entrants has taken around three years. Most of the qualifying chocolates have been tasted on many different occasions and more than one or two bars. Inmany cases I havehad more than 5 or 10 of each over this period.This allows you to know them much more intimatley and allow for different moods, tastebud conditions and so forth. It is very useful to have had that experience in otder to be able to describe their "personalities" to others. All chocolates in the bookhave been paid for andwe have receipts for them all.

I shall take great care to answer all the 11 questions and a further few important onesin the World Chocolate Awards book. These awards are truly independent and on the side of the consumer. They are not organised by an agent of a chocolate company.

Clay Gordon
@clay
01/24/12 12:53:01PM
1,680 posts

Ian -

One really important series of questions to answer before the book comes out. (And when will that be?)

Who are the judges?Who is "we?" How were they selected and recruited? Who selected them? How many were there?

There are many more, of course, but - having thrown down the gauntlet on this one - everything you are saying is open to scrutiny, and this is a very knowledgable community.

:: Clay




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Tom
@tom
01/24/12 03:11:41PM
205 posts
How is vintage considered, if it took three years some of these chocolates will have changed in taste, single origin and blends? Some will not be available from small producers and for flavoured chocolates from the likes of Coppeneur, their lines change rapidly, year to year almost. I do appreciate the logistical problems involved in producing a book and tasting that many chocolates though.
Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
01/24/12 04:47:03PM
13 posts

Hi Tom

Coppenuer is a very good example of one I have had to completley updaterecently.

All one can do it the very best possible with the resources availible. I would rather let everyone make up their own mind about how effective I have been, but Iaim to please. I hope it will be apparent I have made a great deal of effort!

Regarding taste: it would be reasonable to say that no two bars taste exactly the same even on the same day, ditto for one I keep for a year later. The reasons for this range from our mood to the conditions in the mouth, our health, the variation in batches, memories, what flavours we conciously or subconciously decide to focus onand so on. And therefore it is also reasonable to say that the more occasions you try a chocolate on, the fuller picture you can build of thecharacter.

A chocolate may become unavailible for a time or forever, this is beyond our control. Perhaps thecelebration ofthat chocolate will help the chocolatier to go on to produce more of it, or similarly fine creations and provoke the public to take and interest in a talented chocolater.

Tom
@tom
01/24/12 05:25:20PM
205 posts

It does seem that you have given it a great deal of thought.

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
01/24/12 05:36:41PM
13 posts

Itis unwise for anyone to stand on a pedestal andassert that they havespecial tastebuds.

We all are most happy with our own perception of taste. It is a subjective thing as you know.

I amahuman beingwho tastes chocolate. Nobody requires any further qualification in order to talk about the flavours and excellence of chocolates, write, sing, or do whatever they like on the topic.

The real selector is the public who has the option to read, watchor listen to someone else's opinion from the sources availible.

What a person can do is give their opinion. They can state their perception of flavour and so on. Your questionseems to be implying there are people whoshould be looked at assuperior to others and I do not share that opinion: anyone who takes the time to reallytaste what is in their mouth has a valid opinion about taste.

I have judged the chocolates. "We" means my agents, people who have assisted me in purchasing chocolates posting them across the globe. The word "we" is also used inEnglish writing instead of I.

Maybe some people willjudge it important that I and my agents are independent and find the World Chocolate Awards book more interesting because of that.

ChocoFiles
@chocofiles
01/24/12 06:13:38PM
251 posts

Ian,

In your book are you attempting to list the "best" chocolates or your "favorites"? To me there's quite a difference between those 2 aims.

ChocoFiles
@chocofiles
01/24/12 06:18:56PM
251 posts

Ian,

Am I correct that you're responding to Clay's question about the judges? Knowing who the judges are is definitely a key component to any award. Are you the sole "judge" who determines these awards? And for transparency how many "agents" do you have? Since the word "agent" has several meanings please clarify what your agents do. Are they literary agents since this is a book? Did the agents do more than buy chocolate?

If you tasted over 1000 bars and the average cost is $7/bar then the ~$7000 invested is quite a chunk of cash to invest in chocolate. But what could be more fun? How many bars did your agents buy for you? And where can I get some these agents to buy me chocolate too? ;>)

Clay Gordon
@clay
01/24/12 06:22:45PM
1,680 posts

Not sure exactly what qualifies these as "awards" then, based on your description. Sounds more like the guide to French chocolates produced by the Club des Croqueurs de Chocolats, but with only one taster, maybe? You are the sole taster and judge - and your agents helped you source the chocolates?




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Adriennne Henson
@adriennne-henson
01/24/12 10:20:44PM
32 posts

Ido like your view on this and I am on the other end of selling chocolate and have tasted many bars a long the way. For me it is either I like a bar or don't but also chocolate has gotten very complicated these days andI try to make things simple for myself and to alsohave fun a long the way. There are so many new bars coming out and also at times the old standards do change in taste or for me my taste buds have changed over time.

There are just many ways to look at all of this now.

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
02/05/12 04:15:18PM
13 posts

Hi Lowe

Excuse the delay, I have been away.

Thishas got to be one of the most interesting points raised.

The award is for the best.

For an example if a chocolate is intended by to be a light milk chocolate with pieces of hazelnut in it, then the question has to be asked is it the best "light milk chocolate with pieces of hazelnut."

For eg. thetaster should not give more favour one with Brazil nuts because Brazil nuts are their favourite.

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
02/05/12 04:37:02PM
13 posts
Clay Gordon
@clay
02/05/12 04:51:44PM
1,680 posts

Ian:

It's not a question, of "we all may have" it's "there are."

The issue of the makeup of the panel whose judgments are the basis of awarding the ... ahh ... awards is always of interest to people. If the judge is you, I think people will want to know your bona fides. Especially because these are being billed as "The World Chocolate Awards."

I have this concern with many people who rate chocolate (and everything else for that matter) have no background or training in sensory analysis. I spent a lot of time thinking about this issue - over the course of several years - before I started publishing my ratings and reviews on chocophile.com back in mid-2001. I had no formal training so I need justification for my hubris in anointing myself a chocolate "critic."

The Club has its own biases, which are obvious when you know what to look for. I don't know that 100 is better than 1 - I'd need to know the makeup of the 100, or the 1.

But the question is not about me - it's about you. I am content to wait until the book comes out and not judge until I have a chance to see the explanation of the methodology and how the awards are presented. Until then it's just a matter of gathering some background so I don't try to make the deep dive into the book cold.




--
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
02/05/12 04:52:20PM
13 posts

Hi Adrienne

I agreee, particularly regarding dark chocolate. But it is an amazing time to have so many on offer to try and discover. It makes things a lot more exciting and fun than a stagnant marketplace.

As you say it is possible to find it complicated, buttheWorld Chocolate Awards will inform people of the amazing variety there in a way that is enjoyable and different. It must be an enjoyable experience and provide quality information in a fun and easy presentation. There will be interesting facts and hundreds of colour photos to make it an enjoyable read as well as substance.

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
02/05/12 05:36:56PM
13 posts

(Repost with spelling correction. I will reply to the new post later)

We all may have varying opinions on what will qualify as an award.

Istated at the outset a number of factors important to me and people I have spoken to.

If you are of the view that 100 tastersaveraged out are better than one taster I would be interested to know how you arrive at that conclusion and how this is possible to carry out in the real world under satisfactory circumstaces.

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
02/06/12 09:12:37AM
13 posts

Hi Clay, I don't see anycomplicated issues here:

World Chocolate Awards is exactly what is says on the tin: awards for chocolates from all over the world.

A person needsto criticise chocolate to be a chocolate critic; you need to have children to be a father/mother; you need to wash cars to be a car valeter; you need to make a sign to be a sign maker; you need to make chocolate to be a chocolatier; you need to award chocolate to be a chocolate award.

Oncesomeone does any of those things then the public get to decide their opinion about how well that car is washed; how good a sign is; if the criticism is interesting; orif theawards are of interest.

Now with regards to being independentthen I would agree this is a quality that is less self-evident: qualifying/clarification of those qualities and what they are intended to mean is essential.This is what I highlighted in my initial points about an ideal award.

The World Chocolate Awards are different from all of the other awards that I am aware of: It is independent, does not use donated chocolate,and is on the side of the consumer.

Facts, such as my agents and I not being related to, or paid by,any of thechocolate makers will be clarified in the book and on the website,but if more detail is required then I will not hesitate to help.

To clarify what agent means, it is somebody who is assisting me: who has on my behalf received and forwarded chocolates to me, withouttipping offa chocolate maker that thechocolates are for an award.

ChocoFiles
@chocofiles
02/06/12 10:34:05AM
251 posts

[Quote by Ian]


The award is for the best.

For an example if a chocolate is intended by to be a light milk chocolate with pieces of hazelnut in it, then the question has to be asked is it the best "light milk chocolate with pieces of hazelnut."


So how many categories of chocolate bars do you give awards for? And how do you decide when to split award categories? Using your example, is "Milk chocolate with hazelnut" a distinct category that gets an award? What about bars with dark chocolate and hazelnuts-- is that another category? And is "Dark chocolate with almonds" still another category?

I hope I don't sound critical, because I'm really just trying to understand your methodology based on what you've explained so far.

It must have been a wonderful project to taste over 1000 bars and compare them! Can give a few more specifics about how many months you spent on this, and how many bars you tasted per day? Because I review chocolate I'd also like to know more about your process. I always find new things that I can learn from from others. Did you make any attempt to control and standardize as many of the variables as possible? By this I'm referring to the sample sizes, the temperature of the chocolate tested, the time of day, the number of chocolates per day, the time since last eating, refreshing the pallette...

This is fascinating to me, and I sincerely hope that your book helps to educate more people about fine chocolate that they might enjoy! That can only be good for everybody!


updated by @chocofiles: 07/10/15 12:21:42AM
Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
03/04/12 11:47:06AM
13 posts

Hi Lowe. My delay in replying is due to my workload but I will always reply as soon as possible.Again thank you for highlighting interesting and important points that we can discuss.



I have always been lucky enough to be travelling or living abroad during and since my childhood (lived in Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, England, Peru, Honduras) I have had a fascination to discover explore and form an opinion about chocolates and other food. This evolved to become more and more formal and here we are!

CATEGORIES

The principal category is the rating: none, one, two or three stars.

The ingredients in a flavoured chocolate are made clear to the reader so it's self-evident when a chocolate is, for example, an excellent chocolate with minute hazelnut pieces. Inventing categories for each variation of ingredients is thereforeunnecessary and would become a distraction from the purpose of the awards. Rather like those silly movies that show the Eiffel Tower, then in captions "Paris" then -agonisingly- in captions "France." We already knew. We could seeevidently.

The same is done for organic, fair trade, ect. If a chocolate has one of these qualities it will be shown in the body of text or in the images on the page. The awards are given only for taste. However the information about farming methods, ethical practices etc. is evident for the consumer to see and use as they wish.

Only for ease of use and order, types of chocolates are presented in the book in sections dedicated to milk chocolates, white chocolates,flavoured chocolates.

An interesting topic is how do you categorise dark and light milk chocolate. Just where is that line?! Is there a line? I will leave this to be answered in the book as I think it has not been done before in the way that it will be presented.

In my experience when I see many divisions and categories, as a consumer, alarm bells ring. It usually means there is an intention to generate "winners" and as many of them as possible.

In these caseschocolates are"winners" simply because they are the best (or least worst!) one of a few entered into that competition, where by default there will always be a winner.



The World Chocolate Awards rates the chocolates on a star system depending how excellent they taste, which (unlike the cases mentioned above) is not affected by how bad or good the other chocolates tested are. There does not have to be a three star chocolate in the whole awards unless there is a near perfect chocolate.



TASTING



Tasting chocolate is done in before breakfast in the morning when it is the maximum number of hours since eating and using flavoured cleaning products in the mouth. Room temperature water is drank first.


Size and temperature of the chocolate arestandardised to the greatest extentpossible.If more than one chocolate is tasted then room temperature water is used vigorously to clear the mouth. A toothbrush that has never been used with toothpaste is used. I do not smoke or drink alcohol ever.

Jeff Nelson
@jeff-nelson
03/04/12 03:29:05PM
8 posts

This sounds like it will be a very interesting read and informative. Since new chocolate will be coming out and more and more people out there are making chocolate, my suggestion would be to set parameters of what chocolate you will and will not test, so that way this isn't a one time thing. I think since this is designed for the consumer in mind, you should only taste chocolates that are easily obtainable to the public, IE they ship worldwide. I would be disappointed to see your number one choice is only available by flying to europe and going to some obscure town and buying the chocolate from their shop, or if the best chocolate hasn't been in production for 2 years and is now gone.

Just a suggestion is all. It's your book.

Ian Whitaker
@ian-whitaker
03/28/12 03:53:09PM
13 posts

Hi Jeff

Thank you for your points. I'll respond to them one by one below. If you have any other questions or suggestions please do not hesitate.

Since new chocolate will be coming out: the World Chocolate Awards book will be published on a 2-3 year basis.Thisis an appropriatetime span for the rate at which the marketplace changes significantly for milk, flavoured, flavoured drinkingand the other types of chocolatewe are including.An annual award would see a very high number of repetitions compared to a very low number of new entries. It also requires time to do due diligence to sourcing and testing chocolates from all over the world. Finally, no matter how ofteninformation on any subjectis published there will always benew information coming forth the next day. So the best way to deal with thisis to keep right up to date until themoment of publishing. In thecase of a chocolate going out of production, the recognition of the chocolatier for making exceptional chocolate, of something thatthey have already achieved, is significant. Thereader can become familiar perhaps with a new brand, see what the chocolatier is capable of, read interesting infromationabout them and look at their range.

Set parameters of what chocolate you will and will not test: This will be clarified when the main website opens and in the book. But in brief for the World Chocolate Awards only testschocolatesdo notuse substitutes for real vanilla, or for cocoa butter.

Chocolates that are easily obtainable to the public:The objective is to rate as many of the finest chocolates in the worldas we possibly can, based soley on their taste. This is a unique concept and a level playing field for all chocolatiers no mater how big or small, no matter their marketing budget,skill at securing distribution, or how they package their chocolate.As a result of theWorld Chocolate Awards bookrecognising and honouring thosechocolatierswho crafttheworld's best tasting chocolates, demand for them may increase, whichwill give us all a better chance of being able to obtain them.I believe that a large percentage of the public have not even heard of many of the best chocolatiers, who have little chance to expand distribution without an increase in demand coming first. It is a chicken and egg scenario that our book will help to resolve. What is easily obtainable isalso subjective: it depends on where we live, where we travel, where our relatives live, how effectively we use the internet and how resourceful a person is.

Tags

Member Marketplace


Activity

Xocol855
 
@xocol855 • 2 months ago
Created a new forum topic:
slaviolette
 
@slaviolette • last year • comments: 0
Created a new discussion "Cost of goods produced":
"Hi Everyone, Been a long time member but I have not been in in a few years, the fact is that I had to close down my small chocolate business.. but now is..."
chocolatelover123
 
@chocolatelover123 • 2 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new forum topic:
New Chocolate Brand - "Palette"
Marita Lores
 
Marita Lores
 
Vercruysse Geert
 
Vercruysse Geert