National Selections: Report

Pilon to represent the U.S. in Paris

Chicago, IL (May 19, 2007)
Vincent Pilon, Executive Pastry Chef at Mandalay Bay, walked off with both the “National Taste Award 2007” as well as the “National Chocolate Master” award in the World Chocolate Masters competition; initiated by Barry Callebaut, producers of professional gourmet brands Cacao-Barry, Callebaut, and Carma Swiss Chocolate. Chef Pilon proved to be the one to beat at World Chocolate Masters in Chicago on May 19th at the French Pastry School. After several intense hours of hand-to-hand chocolate combat, Chef Pilon managed to dazzle not only the celebrity judges, but also the crowd of peers, media, and professionals.

“It was an exciting day for us, the Barry Callebaut family, as well as all those who attended,” said Eric Martinet, Vice President, Gourmet, Barry Callebaut, North America. “The amount of work and thought that was put into each creation exceeded our expectations, and we are very proud to be a part of this event. Chef Pilon will represent the U.S. well at the World Chocolate Masters in Paris.”

Seven U.S. based chefs were challenged to utilize different techniques in the assembly of the pre-determined chocolate creations, such as an artistic showpiece, moulded pralines, dipped pralines, and a “Mystery” dessert in which the ingredients used were only revealed to the contestants a few minutes before the beginning of the competition. Throughout the day, the kitchen at the French Pastry School churned out a dazzling array of chocolate combinations, with each selection mulled over with delightful intensity by the panel of culinary professionals and celebrity judges.

The preliminary competitions in all of the 20 countries (such as Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, and Italy) will each produce one winner to be jetted off to the finals in Paris, France this October to compete for the title of World Chocolate Master 2007.

The United States national competition was held in Chicago on May 19, 2007 at the esteemed French Pastry School. A jury of well-respected culinary notables helped to pick the U.S. winner; Vincent Pilon. Celebrity judges for this competition included Art Smith, best known for his foray into cookbooks, and subsequent James Beard Award in 2002, as well as his stint as Oprah’s personal chef, and now as a contributing editor to her namesake magazine. Also on board was Food Network’s Gale Gand, who, in addition to also being a James Beard nominee for her cookbooks, is considered one of America’s top pastry chefs.

Winner Vincent Pilon is the executive pastry chef at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, and hails originally from Villepinte, France. He was selected as one of Pastry Art & Design’s Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America for 2007, and was part of the National Pastry Team in 2003, earning a first place gold medal. He received the silver medal in the Food Network Chocolate Challenge in 2004, and went on to earn the gold medal in the following years’ challenge. He also received a gold medal in 2006 for the Food Network Chocolate Runway competition, and continues to look for new opportunities to expand and improve his talents and culinary skills. 

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