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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.



R. Brian Cisneros

Founder & CEO at Northwest Chocolate Festival; Specialty Chocolate Association, The Chocolate Alliance

R. Brian Cisneros is the co-founder of The Chocolate Alliance a social-purpose company dedicated to supporting the Artisan Chocolate industry through special events and community initiatives focused on consumer and professional education. Brian is the founder of the Northwest Chocolate Festival, established in 2008 and now one of the top shows in the world for craft chocolate. He is the founder and director of the Chocolate Makers UnConference, the first dialogue based gathering for the cocoa supply chain. In 2020 Brian and colleagues co-founded the first organization dedicated to rewarding the specialty cocoa growers and artisan chocolate makers around the world by recognizing the unique flavor profiles, agricultural and manufacturing efforts, and geographical terroir of specialty cacao. This new non-profit organization, the Specialty Cocoa Association, has a diverse global mission with a focus on bringing farmers into the spotlight to create a transparent, socially-just, and equitable supply chain for artisan chocolate. Brian’s current project is developing sensory guidelines for cocoa and chocolate product evaluation for use by members of the specialty chocolate industry.

Lawrence Nussbaum

Sustainability Consultant at Sustainable-Source

A passionate chocofile and sustainable food advocate, Lawrence has served as the Education Director for the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle since 2015. He organizes numerous chocolate tastings, workshops, and events and has traveled throughout the tropics, immersing himself in cacao culture and sustainability. With a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Lawrence has spent the past 20 years working with mission-driven businesses in food and agriculture, as well as a variety of other sectors, to reduce environmental impacts, support social equity, and make credible claims in the marketplace. A portfolio of projects could be seen at www.sustainable-source.com.

Former Committee Members

Heather Dunbar, Marketing & Events, Brother David’s


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 2020 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).

Former Judges

Amy Sherman

Freelance Writer and Cookbook Author

Karen Cogan

Flavor Manager, Dandelion Chocolate

Bryant Terry

Chef-in-Residence, The Museum of the African Diaspora

Lily Riesenfeld

Co-Founder, Futurewell

Alice Medrich

Writer, Consultant, Pastry Chef

Ruth Kennison

Chocolate Educator, The Chocolate Project

Christine Doerr

Owner/Chocolatier, NeoCocoa

Silvia Baldini

Founder, The Secret Ingredient Girls

Mike Koch

President & Co-Founder, FireFly Farms

Brian Wood

Owner and Manager, Starter Bakery

Francesca Grazioli

Professional Officer, Bioversity International

Anna Baxter

Owner, West Coast Provisions

Kristine Insalaco-Gaioni

Co-Owner/Master Chocolatier, Sapore Della Vita

Jessie Nguyen

Owner/Operator, Little Window

Sasha Lopez

Program Associate, La Cocina

William Rosenzweig

Faculty Director, Sustainable Food Initiative, UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Fiona Lee

Co-Founder and COO, Pod Foods Co

Meaghan Tobin

Reporter, South China Morning Post

Mary Rocca

President, Palace Market

Kathleen Eder

Director of Sales and Marketing, Quince

Chelsea Huson

Manager, Entrepreneurial Programs, Family Farmed Good Food Accelerator

Larissa Zimberoff

Freelance Journalist

Vanessa Chang

Marketing Director, Cowgirl Creamery

Jack Epstein

Owner, Chocolate Covered

Megan Hile

Founder and Head Chocolatier, Madison Chocolate Company

Maya Shoop-Reuten

Owner / Chocolatier, Chocolate Maya