Meet the Judges for the North American Chocolate Masters 2024 Competition

Meet the Judges for the North American Chocolate Masters 2024 Competition

The World Chocolate Masters theme: PLAY!

In late May, nine North American chefs will assemble in Montreal to compete for the title of Northam America's Chocolate Master and the opportunity to continue their journey at the World Chocolate Master's Competition in 2025. 

This year's theme, PLAY!, encourages the chefs to have fun and explore their creativity, but make no mistake - the competition will be serious! 

A panel of five judges will determine the winner. Every jury member brings skill, talent, and years of experience to the task. The jury members, led by Chef Yvan Chevalier, MOF and owner of La Boutique, bring their own perspective to the judging process.

Chef Yvan Chevalier

Yvan Chevalier

Yvan Chevalier, who will be acting as Jury President, won the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2018 and recently opened La Boutique in Rennes to share his specialties and celebrate his Breton roots. 

For him, PLAY! means chefs should express their playful sides and surprise him with interactive experiences that convey emotions and break the rules. At the same time, he'll be holding the chefs to a high standard: "This is a national selection! The quality of the work, the clarity of the details, the creativity, and the multitude of techniques are important criteria for me."

Chef John Kraus

John Kraus

Chef Kraus is the owner of Patisserie 46 and Rose Street Patisserie in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He hails from Paducah, Kentucky, trained in London, worked in Nashville, and taught at the French Pastry School in Chicago before settling in Minnesota.

He sees PLAY! as a theme open to interpretation, but overall, he expects to see some whimsy from the contestants. Moreover, he'll be focused on flavor; "As much as I love chocolate work, as pastry chefs, we must remember the critical aspect of pleasure through taste."

Chef Michel Ernots

Michel Ernots

Michel Ernots was born in Liege, Belgium, and began his party career there, earning the title of Best Apprentice in Belgium in 2012. He joined the Capagnon du Devoir (earning the Compagnon title) and has since worked all over the world. He is the co-founder of The Pastry Academy by Amaury Guichon.

For Chef Michel, PLAY! will require "Imagination, whimsy, creativity, textures, and flavours properly balanced." He'll expect contestants to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. 

Olivier Tribut

Olivier Tribut

Chef Olivier represented Canada at the 2013 World Chocolate Master's competition and was named Pastry Chef of the Year in 2021. He is currently an instructor at Quebec's Capitale Hotel School after having spent many years working and leading teams in prestigious establishments.

He sees this year's theme as a tremendous opportunity for the competitors: "This theme offers an incredible playground for participants. This means that this subject opens the door to innovation as well as creativity while pushing the culinary experience around chocolate even further." He is hoping to be surprised by new concepts and achievements. 

Catherine O'Donnell

Catherine O'Donnell

As a pastry chef and educator, Chef O'Donnell has a wealth of experience from which to draw as she judges this year's chefs' assignments. She is currently a Baking and Pastry Arts Professor at Niagara College and owns Willow Cakes & Pastries. 

The theme of PLAY! opens up a world of opportunities for this year's competition. "Play to means no boundaries. When you are allowed to express all the ideas in your head, allowing food to become fun and magical." She expects contestants to demonstrate innovative approaches and techniques while never neglecting crucial small details. 

The World Chocolate Masters theme: PLAY!

Learn More About the World Chocolate Masters Competition

The World Chocolate Masters is the only competition in the world solely dedicated to the creative talent of professionals with chocolate. A new generation of upcoming talents in the chocolate, pastry, and hospitality industries around the world will share their vision of chocolate indulgence.