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Fine cacao and chocolate products have proliferated in recent years, and at the same time concerned consumers have sought more education and transparency in relation to the food they eat. The development of meaningful and widespread standards for social and environmental responsibility is ongoing in the chocolate industry, and the Good Food Awards chocolate category recognizes those bean-to-bar makers who are leading the way, creating truly quality bars in every sense.


The Good Food Awards rely on the expertise of the chocolate community to create the tasting, determine judges and set standards for the category. Read on to learn who has been integral to building the category, as well as what the chocolate standard are and who will be judging this year.



Brian Cisneros

Founder and CEO at Northwest Chocolate Festival – Seattle, WA

Brian Cisneros is founder of the Northwest Chocolate Festival, Northwest Chocolate Week, and the Chocolate Makers UnConference. Brian works to introduce the craft of chocolate making and cacao agriculture to consumers; and to organize the chocolate industry toward high quality products, transparency in the supply chain, visibility in the manufacturing process, and corporate accountability for sourcing practices. Brian has worked with cacao farmers on value-added initiatives for cocoa, provided support for farmer-lead chocolate manufacturing, given lectures on chocolate at museums, met at round table discussions with indigenous cacao farmers, and convened industry working groups for developing cacao quality standards. Brian has directed the NW Chocolate Festival and the NW Chocolate Awards program for 10-years. The Festival, critically acclaimed as the top show for chocolate in North America, produces the world’s largest education program on chocolate that is open to the public. In his spare time, Brian is completing the Q-Grader Certification for specialty coffee, practicing yoga, and developing new communication channels within the cocoa supply chain.

Arcelia Gallardo

Owner at Mission Chocolate – Sao Paolo, Brazil

Arcelia Gallardo has been in chocolate industry for 16 years, first as a chocolatier with a store in Berkeley, California and now as a chocolate maker in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her brand, Mission Chocolate, has helped pioneer the craft chocolate movement in Brazil by hosting chocolate tastings, teaching chocolate making courses, founding an association for bean to bar chocolate makers and coordinating Bean to Bar Chocolate Week Brazil. She is the President of Bean to Bar Brazil and in her free time she travels through Latin America to teach indigenous women to work with cacao. 

Steve DeVries

Co-Leader at Ecole Chocolat’s Master Chocolatier Program – Costa Rica

Steve also is a member of the Steering Committee of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association, a Member of the Founding Circle of the Heirloom Cacao Project, was named Outstanding Chocolatemaker by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association in 2011 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award, from the Northwest Chocolate Festival in 2016.

Committee Members

Lawrence Nussbaum, Consultant, Sustainable Source
Heather Dunbar


To be eligible for the Good Food Awards, chocolate entries must meet the following standards:

  • Made by the entrant from bean to bar in the USA or US territories.
  • Free of artificial ingredients, including colors, flavors and preservatives.
  • Free of genetically modified ingredients.
  • All ingredients are grown with minimal or no use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.
  • Adherent to the FDA standards of identity for chocolate.
  • Available for retail sale in the 2018 calendar year, prior to September.
  • Made by a crafter that is an upstanding member of the good food community, oriented toward growing their business in harmony with a better food system.

Cacao must be sourced in compliance with the following standards:

  • The origin of beans must be traceable, ordinarily to a particular growing region of a country and ideally to a processing facility, farm or cooperative.
  • Bean sourcers must ensure that price premiums meet or exceed Fair Trade minimums relative to the world commodity price, either through direct trade or through publicly stated policies and in-place processes.
  • Sourced with price transparency throughout the supply chain.
  • Wherever possible, sourced from farms or cooperatives where transparent, documented practices ensure fair and humane work standards for all laborers.
  • Sourced from farms or cooperatives with a transparent, documented emphasis on sustainable farming practices including: water conservation and minimizing or eliminating use of synthetic inputs.


Other ingredients (cocoa butter, lecithin, vanilla, milk powder, flavorings, inclusions, etc.) must be sourced in compliance with the following standards:

  • Traceable.
  • Wherever possible, sourced from farms or cooperatives where transparent, documented practices ensure fair and humane work standards for all laborers.
  • All dairy and other animal-derived products should be sourced in compliance with the GAP guidelines that define “good animal husbandry.”*
  • Sugar must be organic.

* For ingredients that cannot be traced for animal welfare, such as milk powder, organic certification will be accepted.
**Bean-to-bar makers may enter flavored or inclusion bars in their choice of the Chocolate or Confections category.


Additionally, chocolate entries must fit within one of the following four subcategories of bars, containing no ingredients other than those listed:

  • Dark chocolate bars (may not contain ingredients other than cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, vanilla).
  • Milk chocolate bars (may not contain ingredients other than cacao, sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, lecithin, vanilla).
  • White chocolate bars (may not contain ingredients other than sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, milk fat, lecithin, vanilla). Cocoa butter must be pressed in house.
  • Flavored or inclusion bars** (containing at least one ingredient other than those permitted for dark, milk, or white bars).


Antoine Amber

Director of Marketing and Innovation, Alter Eco

Debbie Conti

Pantry Buyer, Healdsburg SHED

Leif Hedendal

Director, Dinner Discussion

Nick Heustis

Director of Marketing, Whole Foods

Rosa Kang

Beverage R&D , Peet's

Stephanie Kelly

SKA Wealth of Raymond James & Assoc., AVP Investments

Gayle Keck

Food and Travel Writer

Olivia Bergman

Political Scientist, MIT

Sylvia Vaquer

Designer/Owner, SocioFabrica

Annemarie Catrambone

Pastry Chef, Mourad/Amara

Christine Doerr

Owner/Chocolatier, NeoCocoa

Leslie Santarina

Photographer and Editor, Spotted SF

Manoj Dayaram

Software Engineer, Square

Jessie Washburn

Food and Coffee Writer

Mourad Lahlou

Chef, Mourad

Kim Alter

Chef/Owner, Nightbird and Linden Room

Kim Parikh

VP of Operations for Chocolate , Rustic Bakery

Juan Garcia

Graphic Designer, Apple

Emily Stone

CEO, Uncommon Cacao

Liz Medina

Curator, MoreMedina

Alex Molinaro

Buyer, Consumables, World Market

Lisa Rogovin

Founder, CEO, Edible Excursions

Janet Tarlov

Co-Owner, Canyon Market

Sara Trikenskas

National Sales and Customer Service Representative, Firepot Nomadic Teas

Joann Huynnh

Freelance Writer

Brian Wood

Founder, Starter Bakery