Representing Belgium: Marijn Coertjens
Works at: The Peninsula in Hong Kong
Won: best chocolate showpiece and best Chocolate to Go concept
After graduating secondary school with a specialisation in pastry and chocolate at V.T.I. Spijker, Marijn Coertjens worked a few years as pastry chef at Patisserie Manus and Kasteel Withof. In 2006 he earned a spot in the kitchen of Pâtisserie Ducobu and came under the tutelage of the chef he admired so much during his early career. Three years later Coertjens’ relentless hunger for knowledge led him to pursue numerous internships at some of the best pastry shops in Japan, working together with inspiring chefs like Joris Van Hee, Yoshiaki Kaneko, Shigeru Wakabayashi and Susumu Koyama.
Currently leading the chocolate team at The Peninsula hotel in Hong Kong, Coertjens’ curriculum vitae is interspersed with awards and acknowledgments. But he’s particularly proud of seeing his name added to the list of winners of the Prospere Montagné award for best Belgian chocolatier (2008) and winning bronze at the 2011 Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie as member of the Belgian team lead by Herman Van Dender.
It isn’t the first time we come across the name of Marijn Coertjens. He participated in the 2007 World Chocolate Masters final and coached Dutch chocolate chef Marike van Beurden during the 2013 World Chocolate Masters final. And this year he’s back, eager to crown himself 2015 World Chocolate Master.
Representing Denmark: Tor Stubbe
After graduating the Silkeborg Hotel and Catering College in Denmark with a diploma in International Catering and Hospitality Operations, Tor Stubbe enrolled for university studies at the Thames Valley University in London where he earned a level four NVQ in pastry and an Advanced Diploma in International Culinary Arts. Work placements in Scotland and England, of which a position as chocolatier at L’artisan du chocolat in London and managing VIP catering for the Royal Ascot are the most noteworthy, earned him the experience necessary to start his professional career.
In the course of time Tor took up positions at the Mandarin Oriental and The Lanesborough hotel in London (England), Pasteleria Escriba, Restaurante Visual and the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona (Spain), Kathrine Andersen Chokolade in Vitten (Denmark), the Hotel Marriott in Copenhagen (Denmark), and cruise ship the MS Silver Shadow before becoming chocolatier at Oialla chocolate, and pastry chef and chocolatier at Bojesen, which are both in Denmark. Possessing a relentless drive to push his own boundaries further and further, it isn’t a surprise that Tor's resume is riddled with awards and accolades, such as employee of the month and year distinctions, the Golden Fan Achievement and the 2002/2003 Bonnet Grande Cuisine Award.
In order to perfect his skills, Tor also followed training courses with several renowned master chefs (Angelo Corvitto, Philippe Marand and Ramon Morató to name a few). His participation in the 2013 Nordic Showpiece Competition in Denmark earned him first place.
Representing France: Vincent Vallée
Works at: Pâtisserie Bamas
Won: best chocolate showpiece, best moulded praline and best small chocolate showpiece
Currently Lab Supervisor at Pâtisserie Bamas (Meilleur Ouvrier de France Pâtissier) in Anglet, Vincent Vallée’s love for chocolate and pastry was already vibrant when he followed his father around the restaurant at the age of six. First proof that good seed makes a good crop, because father Jean-Pascal Vallée’s restaurant Villa Dilecta was endowed with one Michelin star. Rummaging through kitchens from an early age on, Vincent soon served an apprenticeship with Jean-Claude David (Meilleur Ouvrier de France Glacier) to obtain his certificate of qualification as pastry chef.
In 2006 Vincent was proclaimed Best Apprentice of Vendée, France, followed by him advancing to both the departmental and regional final of the 2009 Olympiades des Métiers. Soon after, Vincent served a three-year apprenticeship with Patrick Gelencser to really hone his chocolate and pastry skills to perfection.
Representing Germany: Sabine Dubenkropp
Works at: Confiserie Mélanie in Berlin
Won: best chocolate showpiece and best Cake of the Day
Contrary to most World Chocolate Masters finalists, Sabine Dubenkropp didn’t begin her career as a culinary professional. After acquiring her degree, Sabine first worked as an industrial clerk before receiving training as cook at Hotel Excelsior in Berlin several years later. It was then that she knew she had found her true passion in life. After finishing her training at Hotel Excelsior, Sabine took up positions as pastry chef at several hotels. When she eventually won a scholarship, she didn’t think twice to set out for the USA to study Culinary Arts with a focus on Food and Beverage Management.
Upon returning to Germany, Sabine opened up her own chocolate boutique in Berlin, which she baptised Confiserie Mélanie. She says she loves working with chocolate. In her opinion, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity and knowledge to create delicacies with this great raw material. And as much as she enjoys working with it, her customers enjoy eating it even more. Sabine isn’t a newcomer to the world of culinary competitions either.
Representing Italy: Massimo Carnio
Works at: Pasticceria Alla Villa dei Cedri
Won: best technique, best chocolate showpiece and best moulded praline
Born into a family of confectioners, Massimo Carnio learnt the tricks of the trade from his father and grandfather. Since 2000 he has been managing Alla Villa dei Cedri, his own pastry and coffee shop in Valdobbiadene (Treviso), which has become an institution in virtue of its breakfasts, selection of chocolates, mignon pastries and ceremonial cakes.
Massimo acquired the taste for chocolate twenty years ago. In the last few years, having learnt the art from the best master chocolatiers in the world, he has become specialised in the creation of artistic showpieces that breathe with elegance and simplicity. He achieved success and personal satisfaction at the 2014 World Cup of Ice Cream as master chocolatier on the Italian team, which was awarded the silver medal. His chocolate showpiece, together with a selection of 'floral flavour' mignon pastries, was highly appreciated on this occasion.
Representing The Netherlands: Ramon Huigsloot
Ramon Huigsloot discovered his love for cooking in the family kitchen at a very young age, which led him to take up bread and pastry at Teylingen college. He gained his first work experience at the local bakery shop, but Huigsloot soon had a thirst for more. That’s how he ended up at Huize van Wely, a Dutch pastry, chocolate and ice cream shop that has been around since 1922, where he got to know competitive pastry chefs and a whole new world of raw materials. There, he really got the hang of the metier and it led him to pursue apprenticeships at three-star restaurants like De Librije and Sergio Herman’s Oud Sluis.
After 10 years of honing his pastry skills, Huigsloot traded Huize van Wely for the Amrâth Kurhaus Grand Hotel before taking up the position of pastry advisor for Zeelandia a year and a half later. In the meantime, he was also recruited by the Dutch Pastry Team. Huigsloot won the Dutch Pastry award (2010), the Best New Dutch Pastry Talent Award (2010), the Dutch Talent Price (2003) and the Pastry Competition ROC in Leiden (2003), and gained third place in the 2005 Golden Whisk Awards.