Florent Cheveau, executive pastry chef at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, will represent the United States in the 7th World Chocolate Masters competition, sponsored by Cacao Barry, a French premium brand of chocolate and cocoa products.
Cheveau competed against three other pastry chefs for the National Chocolate Master title during a three-assignment selection round hosted April 28-29 at the Chocolate Academy in Chicago. The competitors included:
  • Devin D. Cowen, assistant executive pastry chef at The Greenbriar, White Sulphur Springs, W.V.
  • Jove Hubbard, executive pastry chef at Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chicago
  • Rory Macdonald, pastry chef at Patisserie Chanson, New York, N.Y.
The chefs created all-chocolate showpieces, patisseries and chocolate on-the-go snacks interpreting the theme “Futropolis,” created by Cacao Barry’s global marketing team. Their interpretations were represented through ingredient selection, the flavors they created and their shapes and presentations.
Karl Helfrich, senior marketing manager for Cacao Barry, said interpreting this “forward-looking” theme taxes the chefs’ abilities, creativity and endurance, but it allows the chefs to grow professionally and personally.
“It really moves you closer to where you think you should be,” he says. “It shows their dedication to the craft, their durability and their talent. You can’t get to this echelon without having real talent.”
Despite the grueling two-day event, Cheveau, a 10-year MGM veteran, felt “very confident.” He said it’s about creating all the pieces before the competition, and then repeating the process “perfectly” and in a timely manner during the event.
“I did what I had to do,” he says. 
And the secret to his winning campaign besides exacting technique and skill? “Degustation,” Cheveau says. “I always been strong on the degustation side.”
Cheveau and competitors from 19 other countries and regions will compete during the finals in Paris in fall 2018. Over the next year in a half, Cheveau will have the opportunity to prepare by seeking assistance at one of 20 Chocolate Academies and attending a two- or three-day boot camp with past winners of the World Chocolate Masters, top chefs, trend watchers and creatives.
Editor-in-Chief Bernard Pacyniak contributed to this report.