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Cacao Barry, the French premium chocolate brand created by Barry Callebaut, awarded more than $30,000 in cash and prizes to the winners of its annual L’Art du Chocolatier Challenge.

The all-chocolate, U.S. competition encourages creativity and expertise in designing and executing original creations.


Simon Bregardis took home the main title, winning Chocolatier of the Year during the two-day competition held May 5-6. Bregardis is an assistant pastry chef at Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.


“I am honored to be recognized for my work and want to thank Cacao Barry for its dedication to innovation and providing chefs from around the country a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate their talent,” says Bregardis.


In a first for the competition, Bregardis not only earned the coveted title, but also won two additional awards in the competition: Best Showpiece and Best Workmanship.


“Chef Bregardis undoubtedly set a new standard for our competition,” says Alexandra Urbe, Cacao Barry brand manager, Americas. “His showpiece was an impressive work of art that clearly showed his incredible talent, focus and mastery of techniques. Additionally his work was extremely consistent, precise and flawless.”


Bregardis also won a $4,000 cash prize, a course at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Chicago, round trip airfare to Chicago plus accommodations, a shared feature in a leading food industry publication, a signed copy of Ramon Morató’s book “Chocolate,” and $4,000 worth of gifts and certificates donated by sponsors.


At the competition, seven pastry chefs competed at the Chocolate Academy for the coveted title and chance to win $15,000 worth of prizes from Cacao Barry and another $15,000 worth of sponsor-donated certificates and prizes.


Second place went to pastry chef Florent Cheveau from Jean-Philippe Pâtisserie in Las Vegas. Cheveau also won the Best Tasting award, winning $6,000 worth of prizes.


Russ Thayer, assistant pastry chef at PreGel America in North Carolina, won third place, and $5,000 in prizes.

 On the first day of competition, each finalist submitted two finished gâteaux de voyage and two containers of spreadable paste. Participants also had six hours to prepare their original chocolate pastry, chocolate tablets and tabletop showpiece using Cacao Barry.