Awards: Tell us about your work in chocolate and cacao.
Jill: As a pastry chef since the early 90’s, my profession has given me a lot of opportunities to work with chocolate, cocoa and other related products. I do taste tests and develop recipes for different types of cocoa, ranging from natural to black, as well as for all types of chocolates from different origins.
Awards: Can you tell us something about how you came to be judging chocolate, and what
led you to the International Chocolate Awards?
Jill: I took up the IICCT Combined Level 1 and Level 2 Certificate in Chocolate Tasting in Taiwan, and Level 3 in Peru. Having the perspective of a pastry chef (with training on bonbons, praline, chocolate showpiece, etc.), I had to re-train myself, specifically my palate, on the nuances and complexities of bean-to-bar chocolate. What I learned from Mr. Martin Christy during the seminar in Taipei, and from Mr. Christy and Ms. Maricel Presilla in Peru, literally blew my mind and senses. I just wanted to do more in-depth research on true artisan chocolates.
So, when the opportunity to judge at the International Chocolate Awards came, I immediately seized the chance to be part of the ICA-Asia Pacific Competition that was then held in Kaohsiung. It was there that I saw the members of the Grand Jury and the other judges in action. It was truly inspiring to see how much hard work, dedication, passion and most importantly, integrity, that the ICA team put into the competition.
Awards: What does it mean to you to be a member of the Grand Jury of the International
Jill: It is truly an honor and a privilege to be part of such esteemed group. I am humbled, and at the same time, deeply grateful to have been invited as a member of the Grand Jury of the International Chocolate Awards. I will definitely work hard to uphold the ideals and objectives of the ICA.
Awards: Can you share a memory or anecdote from your time at the awards.
Jill: During the pandemic, the ICA was done remotely, i.e., online, which meant that entries had to be sent to each judge and/or Grand Jury member. Since the team was composed of different nationalities, and thus located in different time zones, some of us had to taste the chocolate entries at midnight or even at dawn. Fancy that!
Awards: What are your particular interests as a judge, or the categories that interest you
most when judging?
Jill: I love judging both dark and white chocolate bars, but I don’t mind judging milk chocolate bars and bonbons, too. Chocolates with infusion and inclusion(s) can be interesting as well.