JFSuteau showpiece Story
Jean-Francois Suteau and his sky-high showpiece. Photo provided.

Not even the ceiling could stop Jean-Francois Suteau. The executive pastry chef at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, W.V., a participant at the 2013 U.S. Chocolate Master finals competition held last weekend at Barry Callebaut’s Chocolate Academy in Chicago, overcame a real structural barrier to capture the title of U.S. Chocolate Master.

As the crowd gazed on during the construction of his chocolate showpiece, a required element in the competition, Suteau literally hit a wall, or rather, a ceiling. His piece was too tall for the kitchen ceiling. Instead of letting panic set in, or changing the structure’s design, Suteau completely committed to his piece and asked the judges to help him move the ceiling panels out. It was this dedication and adherence to the theme, “Architecture of Taste,” that won his creation the Best Showpiece title.

The victory has qualified him for the 2013 World Chocolate Masters, where he will compete against the top culinary artisans from 20 other countries.

The Greenbrier executive pastry chef can trace his family roots to a long line of pastry makers dating back to 1752. With such a pastry lineage, major success was bound to come his way — and now it has.

In addition to the chocolate showpiece, the finalists — Suteau, Jove Hubbard, Todd Owen and Evan Sheridan — presented a moulded praline or moulded bonbon, a gastronomic chocolate dessert and their own interpretation of the donut. Suteau was declared the winner based on his artistry, the taste of his creations and his technical skills.

Organized by Barry Callebaut, the leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, the World Chocolate Masters competition is in its fifth edition.