Cat Black

Food writer, freelance chocolate expert, UK

Awards: Tell us about your work in chocolate and cacao.

Cat: In addition to judging for The International Chocolate Awards, I work for The International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting. I research and write courses, as well as articles, interviews, and any chocolate related content. In my freelance work I consult chefs on the chocolate they use in their kitchens, and also give talks and tastings to audiences small and large!

Awards: Can you tell us something about how you came to be judging chocolate, and what
led you to the International Chocolate Awards?

Cat: I have a lifelong love of dark chocolate, and as a child in France spent time comparing and contrasting the different bars I could find. You could say I am a born chocolate judge! I met Martin Christy at a tasting shortly prior to the inaugural rounds of the Awards, and he asked me to the very first selection round. The founders considered my palate of use to them, and here I still am!

Awards: What does it mean to you to be a member of the Grand Jury of the International
Chocolate Awards?

Cat: It is a great honour. I take very seriously the responsibility we hold towards people’s livelihoods and the chocolate and cacao industries. I believe there is real worth in assessing and shining a light on work of true excellence. It also means that I am in the privileged position of tasting some of the most delicious morsels in the whole world!

Awards: Can you share a memory or anecdote from your time at the awards.

Cat: That very first time judging, alongside the Awards founders. They were assessing me as a judge, as well as the samples we had to taste. I was all enthusiasm, and couldn’t really believe my luck to be there. I was excited that I seemed to be in tune, taste wise, with these true experts. My error was in eating all of the samples. I now know that you taste a small amount, enough to judge fully, only eating more if you haven’t got a clear view. That day the buildup of stimulants in my system had me shaking by lunchtime. By the time I was driving home I was seriously over the top, my car weaving about. I hit the pavement a couple of times. Not a great experience, but I learned to be less greedy.

Awards: What are your particular interests as a judge, or the categories that interest you
most when judging?

Cat: When I started, I would have said plain dark origin bars. Now I would say all of it. I have in many ways learned more from judging things I don’t personally like, discovered superb and surprising things in categories that would not be my first choice. So, I reserve judgement entirely, and then I judge.