Meet your Makers: 2013 Good Food Awards

IMG_0007_2Upstairs inside San Francisco’s Ferry Building sat the winning craftspeople flown in from around the country by none other than Alice Waters.  Soon, over a hundred medals in over a handful of categories proceeded downstairs around the necks of the proud recipients to greet the Good Food Awards gala reception crowd, officially kicking off, to understate, a long weekend of chocolate-filled events.

Samples of the winning selections in categories from charcuterie to confections lined tables that ran the length of the Ferry Building, mere pawns in a hedonistic tasting game.  Armed with a-list chefs, tables of tapas made with winning ingredients assaulted my vegetarian defenses.  They were just little bites of sustainable bliss, I guiltlessly justified, and did my very best to consume my $100 ticket’s worth.

Since gala attendees weren’t allowed to watch the award ceremony (hrumph!), my peek of the chocolate table was my first official confirmation of some of the winning chocolates:
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Dandelion’s Madagascar, Fruition‘s Dark Milk with Fleur de Sel, Madre‘s Triple Cacao, Raaka’s 83% Bourbon and one that hadn’t been tempered into bars or marked by name. But the mystery was far from resolved, with only a handful of the 16 award-winning chocolates on display and the likelihood of running into the eleven winning makers to ask tonight slim.  Nonetheless, now properly fed, I could hunt plenty of them down!

Art Pollard of Amano is always up for a chat–he’s the first chocolate maker I ever met, and I still feel special when he pulls me aside to try something new or ask for an opinion.  About as quickly as I’d found him and we’d said hello, chocolate worlds collided and I took this shot of award winner Art, Martin Christy of Seventy% and Sunita de Tourreil, founder of The Chocolate Garage and esteemed Good Food Awards judge:

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My heroes!  A few of them, anyways, and it seemed that most every one of them would reveal themselves in the coming days, whether I had the moxie to approach or not.

Tonight was just for the joy, though, and I was swept away by the ebullient energy of the winners.  I chatted with a handful of Dandelions, including Cynthia, who accepted Dandelion Chocolate’s award and whom I’d coincidentally (or not?!) met just weeks earlier at a small New Year’s Eve party.  After corresponding for months with Ritual Chocolate, patient participants in my Mission: Craft Chocolate LA, I finally met Anna and Robbie and congratulated them on winning awards for both of their beautiful chocolates. Can I coin the term “cacao struck?” Maybe not, but you get the idea.

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Time flew like a rocket until we were straight-up ushered out of the festivities still giddily gabbing away.  While leaving, I caught Ryan and Nate of Raaka in time to congratulate them on their win, a ‘virgin’ 83% bourbon cask aged bar,  and receive their line of chocolates for review here hopefully soon.

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The following morning, no rest for the winning, my craft chocolate-making heroes were back in action at the Good Food Awards Marketplace, where, for a $95 savings over the previous night, attendees received samples handed out by the winners themselves.  Here’s Rob Anderson of Fresco, actually handing me not a sample of his award-winning Papua New Guinea 220 bar but a special taste of his new creation, a Dominican Republic 223 bar.  I do believe I have previewed a 2014 Good Food Award winner.

Here are the rest of the 2013 chocolate award winners:
Patric Chocolate won the maximum of three awards, including first place, and has received awards every year.
Rogue Chocolatier: Another triple threat, awarded for Sambirano, Rio Caribe and Hispaniola, and the only other annual Good Food Award winner
Askinosie Chocolate: Dark Milk & Fleur de Sel
Potomac Chocolate:  Upala 70% Nib & Salt

Check out the entire family of 2013 Good Food Award winners here.  And snap up the Good Foods if you can!

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