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Monday, June 23, 2008

-=: The World Pastry Team Championship :=-

Want to go to this Event? Visit the Chocolate Lovers Travel Club to learn how.

Since its inception, The World Pastry Team Championship has become one of the most talked about events in the world of pastry.

The competition features up to 12 teams, each with 3 professional pastry chefs who labor for 13 hours over the course of two days. A National Team Pastry Championship is held in odd numbered years with the winning team representing the United States in the World event the following year.

To be eligible to compete, chefs must be living and working in the country they represent for no less than two years prior to the competition. For the National Pastry Team Championship, professional pastry chefs living and working in the U.S. are invited to submit their credentials and achievements to be considered for a captaincy spot in the competition. A selection committee of noted pastry chefs reviews the applications and the captains are chosen and the captains select their teams. For the World Pastry Team Championship, noted pastry chefs from the country are invited by the organizing committee to bring a team to the United States to compete.

Taken from : www.thechocolatelife.com

Sunday, April 6, 2008

German cartel office raids chocolate makers

Chocolate is tempting stuff, but profit can be even more so. That at least is the suspicion swirling around some of the world's leading candy makers.

The Federal Cartel Office in Germany, the country's antitrust watchdog, raided offices of several confectionery giants, including Nestlé, Kraft and Mars, last Thursday. Authorities suspect that the companies may have colluded to raise the prices of their products.

Authorities also seized documents at the headquarters of a local favorite, Ritter Sport, whose perfectly square chocolate bars are ubiquitous in Germany and gaining ground in the United States.

"They seem to think we have improperly exchanged information," said Petra Fix, a spokeswoman for Ritter Sport, which is based in the southern German town of Waldenbuch, outside Stuttgart.

Nestlé, which is based in Switzerland and is the towering giant of the field, also had a visit from antitrust agents at its Frankfurt offices. "We cooperated with the authorities," a spokesman, Robin Tickle, said.
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Chocolate makers have put the onus for rising prices, which have doubled for some products, on the cost of raw materials. Commodity prices have risen sharply over the past year amid strong demand from big emerging economies like China and India. Costlier raw materials would typically force companies to pass costs on to consumers, but manufacturers always run the risk of being undercut if they move to do so ahead of the competition.

"The sector is quite consolidated, and the price rises were quite pronounced," said Marco Gulpers, an analyst at ING Wholesale Banking, Bloomberg News reported. "There are a lot of reasons why these companies need to raise prices to protect their margins."

European Union competition authorities were not involved in the action last week, according to a spokesman, Jonathan Todd. He suggested the move is a German effort, at least for the time being.

Canadian and U.S. antitrust regulators began their own investigation of some of the same manufacturers last year.

To the American eye, the timing of the German move has delicious irony about it, coming only a week before Valentine's Day, the traditional time for chocolaty gifts between lovers. Alas, such a sales boom remains a figment of sweet imagination for chocolate sellers in Germany.

Fix, the spokeswoman for Ritter Sport, said she spent enough time in the United States to appreciate how much chocolate companies benefit from Valentine's Day. But the holiday has not really caught on, at least among older Germans.

"It's picking up, but it started much later in Germany," Pix said. "It is a little more important among the young."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Can Chocolate Benefit Your Health?

If you're a fan of chocolate you're in good company. Chocolate is one of the most popular sweet-tasting treats in the world and has been for centuries. But part of the myth surrounding chocolate is that it tastes so good it must be bad for your health. Which gives it an air of the forbidden.

A beautifully wrapped box of chocolates has always been considered a very romantic gift. So if the special person in your life is a self-confessed chocoholic, you know one surefire way to please them on special occasions. But the surprising news from the scientific community is that this reputedly decadent treat actually has some health benefits, especially if you choose your chocolate wisely.

Is Chocolate A Health Food?

Chocolate contains over 300 chemicals, and has been the subject of a number of studies by universities and other scientific organizations. Here's a quick rundown of the results. We have no way of proving or disproving these claims so we offer them here as a stimulus for further research. If you're really interested in the subject, this may provide you with a starting point.

* Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Of course this is counteracted by the high sugar content of milk chocolate.

* The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.

* Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator.

* The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat which may raise good cholesterol.

* Drinking a cup of hot chocolate before meals may actually diminish appetite.

* Men who eat chocolate live a year longer than those who don't.

* The flavanoids in chocolate may help keep blood vessels elastic.

* Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood.

* Mexican healers use chocolate to treat bronchitis and insect bites.

* The carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being.

What Chocolate Won't Do:

* Studies show that chocolate is not a causative factor in acne.

* Cacao contains the stimulants caffeine and bromine, but in such small quantities that they don't cause nervous excitability.

* Chocolate is not addictive.

* Chocolate contains stearic acid, a neutral fat which doesn't raise bad cholesterol.

* Chocolate doesn't make you 'high'. You'd need to eat a huge quantity (about 25lbs at one sitting) to feel any noticeable effect.

But On The Negative Side...

1. Chocolate may trigger headaches in migraine sufferers.

2. Milk chocolate is high in calories, saturated fat and sugar.

What About Chocolate And Your Pets?

* Chocolate is considered dangerous to animals because it contains a stimulant called theobromine, which they can't digest.

* Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are even more dangerous because they contain higher concentrations of the substance.

This applies whether chocolate is in candy bar form, or an ingredient in cake, cookies, puddings or ice cream.

* If a pet becomes ill after eating chocolate, take it to the vet immediately.

Dark Chocolate Versus Milk Chocolate:

Dark chocolate contains more cacao and less sugar than milk chocolate. It follows that any health benefits would be more pronounced in dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate is allowed on the popular Montaignac diet while milk chocolate is not.

You'll need to do a little research if you have any health concerns about eating chocolate. But with products like gluten-free and sugar-free brands finding their way onto supermarket shelves, you're sure to find some form of chocolate you can enjoy with a clear conscience.

Taken from : www.annamariavolpi.com

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