Works at: William Curley
Qualifiers: best chocolate showpiece, best Cake of the Day and best Chocolate to Go concept
Whilst studying at university, Alistair Birt fell in love with all things sweet and chocolate. Under the tutelage of pastry expert Yolande Stanley Birt travelled across the UK and America visiting top industry names, which cumulated in him representing the UK in pastry at the 2009 edition of Worldskills in Canada. Birt is currently Head Chocolatier at William Curley.
Birt participated in many competitions, including the 2013 UK qualifying round for the World Chocolate Masters where he came in second and won the awards for Best Showpiece and Best Entremet. He also visited China on a British council tour, demonstrating and lecturing on the benefits of skilled labour and has been a guest lecturer at Westminster Kingsway College several times. In 2013, Birt received the coveted Acorn Award, which acknowledges people under 30 who have made a significant contribution in their field.
In the words of Alistair Birt:
Where does my passion for chocolate stem from?
My passion for chocolate stems from being introduced to the real world of fine chocolate at university, my eyes being opened up to its creative possibilities and endless uses.
Why do I participate in the World Chocolate Masters?
I participate to push myself creatively and technically. To compete on a world stage is a great honour, but more importantly, I just enjoy competing.
How do I prepare for the World Chocolate Masters?
I prepare by practising all my products, and I get a mix of people to taste and give me feedback to fine-tune them. However, you have to stay true to yourself, and what you think tastes and looks good. I also do timed run-throughs, so on the days of the world final, it will feel like second nature to me.
How do I plan on convincing the jury members?
I plan on letting my technique and flavours do the convincing. Being happy with what I produce and knowing it’s the best I could have done, that’s the main thing to me.
What do I hope to learn from this experience?
I hope to learn a lot of new techniques, styles and flavour combinations from the other competitors.