Jeffrey Lee

Founder of Cult de Choco, craft chocolate importing company in Hong Kong. Jeffrey is the Awards' local organizer for the Asia-Pacific Competition.

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

Jeffrey: I’m the owner of the chocolate importing company Cult de Choco Ltd. in Hong Kong.  Apart from introducing and selling bean-to-bar/craft chocolate, I organise and conduct chocolate tasting courses to promote fine quality chocolate to the local people. In the meantime, I collect feedback from consumers and chocolate makers – the final connection in the chocolate chain.

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

Jeffrey: After attending a chocolate tasting course with The International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting in London in 2012, I deep-dived into chocolate tasting, with the intention of practicing my sensory and tasting skills.  In addition, as a chocolate importer and retailer, I am committed to exploring more about the chocolate industry. I felt that judging chocolate would be a good place to encounter different brands and products. So I applied to judge The International Chocolate Awards in 2013.

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

Jeffrey: It’s my honour to be a member of the Grand Jury of the International Chocolate Awards, such a recognizable competition in the chocolate industry.  Membership of the Grand Jury enables me to learn more about various kinds of chocolates throughout the tasting journey. Practically, it is quite a task to finish all the competition samples on time; challenging but enjoyable. During the process, we need to appreciate and give rigorous judging feedback for each entry submitted by the chocolate makers and chocolatiers.

In addition, it not only means assisting the Awards in promoting fine chocolate, but also in building networks and connections between cacao growers and chocolate consumers. The Awards ask for full transparency and traceabilty of chocolate, and so appreciate and influence the efforts and output of cacao growers.

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

Jeffrey: I served as a guest Grand Juror at the World Final competition in 2014 for the first time. It was an exciting moment for me to judge together with other Grand Jurors from other countries. Being a non-English-speaking judge, I was worried that I would not do well and not be able to follow others in the whole process.

Another impressive memory was judging the Asia Pacific competition in Taiwan in 2018. There were many chocolate samples and we were expected to finish them on time.  We only had 7 days for both main judging and grand jury rounds.  All of us completed the judging of all submitted entries at midnight.  It was really a great experience and great moment for all of us.

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

Jeffrey: I like plain origin bars, which is one of the largest categories.  Through tasting each origin chocolate, I know more about the character and flavours of that origin.  I also get excited when there is a new origin to try, even if it doesn’t have great flavours.