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Good enough to eat

Posted on : 20 September 2017

It was the early 1800s when Coenraad Van Houten created the cocoa press, squishing the bean and expelling the cocoa butter before washing the cocoa in an alkali solution to come up with ‘Dutch cocoa’. In the 1850s Englishman Joseph Fry added cocoa butter to cocoa powder and sugar to come up with the world’s first solid chocolate. In 1875 Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to the solid chocolate and created a milk chocolate bar. Swiss man Rudolphe Lindt invented a machine that mixed chocolate to a perfectly smooth consistency in 1879.

In 1911 in a small town in Belgium Octaaf Callebaut produced his first chocolate recipe and shops in the outlying villages could not get enough of it. In 1960, Callebaut began exporting chocolate, and in 2016, Callebaut sponsored the first stand-alone Sydney Royal Chocolate Show.

In 2017, it becomes apparent that somehow chocolate and blowtorches can co-exist, along with ribbons, nitrogen canisters, spray paint and melting tanks.

It may look a little like a mechanic’s workshop or a graffiti artist’s den, and it is definitely a construction zone.  Senses are on overload because it is the Chocolate Showpiece competition at the 2017 Callebaut Sydney Royal Chocolate Show, and the showpieces must be made entirely of chocolate. All decorations must be made of chocolate. Coloured cocoa butter, food grade decorative metallic powders, and edible gold or silver leaf are permitted. Non-edible stands are permitted. There is no minimum height restriction but showpieces must be no more than 180 centimetres tall.

Imagine, almost 6 foot of chocolate sculpted into whatever takes your fancy. Chocolate can be used in the same way a sculptor uses clay, stone or metal. It is a very malleable material but it has no lasting qualities… it is meant to be consumed. Surprisingly Australia is not in the top ten of chocolate consuming countries across the world, we sit at a respectable 13th place, just behind Russia and ahead of Sweden. With double our consumption, in first place is Switzerland. Belgium, the birthplace of Callebaut Chocolate is 5th. Ireland, the UK and Austria complete the top five.

The Champion Chocolate Showpiece sculptor will be named at the Taste of Excellence Awards on 22 September.