Dilip Kumara, an assistant pastry chef at Dubai's Five Hotels and Resorts, has been named the regional winner of the World Chocolate Masters and earned a place in the global finals, to be held in Paris in October 2022.
Kumara beat six other UAE chefs to the title after a day-long competition held at the Chocolate Academy Centre Dubai on Wednesday. He is now one among 22 global finalists who will battle it out for the coveted World Chocolate Master title.
"It is an honour to be conferred with such a prestigious accolade," Kumara said. "Going head on with such amazing chefs was an experience of a lifetime. In my view, the World Chocolate Masters will serve as a stepping stone for my career and offer me the needed recognition to make a robust name for myself in the market.
"I look forward to competing with leading global chefs in Paris and showcasing my skills on a global forum.”
Cancelled in 2020 owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the global competition’s theme, #Tmrw_Tastes_Looks_Feels_Like, reflects the changed post-Covid-19 world and a desire to rethink the chocolate industry, organisers said.
“This is like the Formula 1 competition in the world of chocolate and patisserie,” said Ramon Morato, the creative director of Cacao Barry, organiser of the competition.
“In its core mission and DNA, this competition has always been about pushing the boundaries and transforming the profession. What you see in the competition will be in the counters of the best pastry and chocolate shops three to five years from now.
“For this edition, we will stimulate chefs to reach out to science, technology and design, and rethink chocolaterie and patisserie as we know them.”
The Middle East competition gave competing chefs a taste of what’s to come when they face other finalists from around the world.
Chefs were first required to create a mood board explaining their core idea and how it reflects this year’s theme. They were then tasked to create a chocolate artwork using six different techniques and a maximum of five kilograms of chocolate to test their design skills.
The chefs then had to make a fresh chocolate patisserie including three compulsory ingredients: chocolate, a fruit and a locallysourced ingredient. They also had to create a chocolate snack that is 100 per cent plant-based.
Finally, they were asked to make a bonbon, a small chocolate confection, that’s totally E-number free, meaning no artificial colourants, flavours or preservatives.
Each contestant is individually scored on those five criteria and the chef with the highest total score was named the winner.
Judges for the Middle East league included chef Gregoire Berger, the former chef de cuisine at Dubai's Ossiano restaurant; Nicolas Lambert, the senior executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Resort Dubai; Andreas Krampl, the senior director of culinary for Middle East & Africa at the Marriott Group of Hotels; Charles Azar, master pastry consultant and president of the Academie Nationale de Cuisine Lebanon for MEA & Gulf; and ice cream master Emmanuel Ryon.
Ahead of the global competition, Kumara will now have the support of chefs in the global Cacao Barry network and the 23 Chocolate Academy centres to help him fine-tune his skills.
“The World Chocolate Masters is much more than a culinary competition. It is an incredible journey during which most contestants learn to push their own limitations. It’s their window to the global culinary world,” said Cacao Barry’s Morato. “The winners of the national selections and the world final become the leading pastry and chocolate chefs in the world.”