Awards: Tell us about your work in chocolate and cacao.
Jim: My personal journey in chocolate started 40 years ago when I set out to try to make the
perfect chocolate truffle. I made many batches with the best chocolate I could find, to
share with friends from various parts of the world. They in turn sent me pictures of my
chocolate box in the most unusual places. The most exciting thing for me was to see how
the quality of the chocolate available has improved exponentially over the years.
Awards: Can you tell us something about how you came to be judging chocolate, and what
led you to the International Chocolate Awards?
Jim: My interest in chocolate brought me in contact with Maricel Presilla, who wrote the
classic book on chocolate – The New Taste of Chocolate – among her many other
accomplishments. Together, we developed a unique line of truffles based on Latin
flavors. When Maricel was invited to be a guest chef at the Obama White House, she
asked me to be her truffle-maker there.
Maricel recommended me as a judge for the International Chocolate Awards.
Awards: What does it mean to you to be a member of the Grand Jury of the International
Jim: This is a commitment that I take very seriously. I empathize with how chocolate makers
put their hearts and souls into their work. And it is very rewarding to see their efforts
Awards: Can you share a memory or anecdote from your time at the awards.
Jim: I remember trying to photograph the winners when the awards ceremonies were held
at Maricel’s restaurant. The place was full of enthusiasm and packed so tightly that you
could hardly move.
Awards: What are your particular interests as a judge, or the categories that interest you
most when judging?
Jim: I have a particular interest in chocolate ganache – the texture, melt, mouthfeel, initial flavors,
mid-palate, finish, and interaction with the enrobing coverture.