Chocolate Festival "Blind Tasting" Competition

The results are in...Thank you to our vendors at the 2016 Chocolate Festival who entered The Blind Tasting Competition.

Listed below are this year's winners of the competition:

Best Truffle - Snake and Butterfly

Best Baked Chocolate Dessert - Buttercup Cakes

Best Use of Chocolate in a Savory Dish - Holy Smokes Country BBQ and Catering

Best Use of Caramel - Ashby Confections

Most Unique Use of Chocolate - Pure Heart Chocolate

Healthiest Use of Chocolate - Ashby Confections

Best Toffee - Cowboy Toffee Company

Best Use of Chocolate in an ice cream - Mission City Creamery

Best Wine Paired with Chocolate - Sones Cellars

BEST IN SHOW - Ashby Confections 

There were 12 judges. Judges were divided up into three panels that included 3 categories. A set of 3 judges scored for the Best In Show competition.

Please read about our judges, below. A judge is either a past Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival Chocoholic or has noted culinary experience.

    Judges and Their Bios...

  • Anne Baldzikowski

    Author and award winning chef instructor Anne Baldzikowski enjoys encouraging people to cook in her variety of classes at Cabrillo College and in her newly released cookbook Easy Artisan, simple elegant recipes for the everyday cook. She believes that using food as an art medium is a way we can create beauty cultivating our inner artisan and sharing this art with others as expressions of our gratitude.

    Along with teaching and cooking professionally Anne has enjoyed a full culinary career as a restaurant critic, wine judge, food judge, and food writer in the Monterey Bay Area. She has owned two bakeries: The Queen of Tarts and Let Them Eat Cake! Currently she teaches in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management department at Cabrillo College where she has taught since 2001.

    On weekends she opens her college classroom and kitchen to the community for weekend specialty classes through the Cabrillo College Extension program. Her professional classes with a casual feel will give you a taste of what it’s like to cook in a real commercial kitchen.
  • Elizabeth Crow

  • Sasha Eisenpress

    Sasha Eisenpress is a culinary enthusiast who holds a degree in Italian Studies as well as in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.  While expanding her culinary knowledge and skill set through Santa Cruz's vibrant local food scene, in her free time she loves biking, practicing yoga, and sharing with others her enjoyment in baking and cooking.
  • Kim Fraundorfer-Tobak

    Kim Fraundorfer-Tobak is a certified Nutritional Consultant with certification from Bauman College.  She has been interested in chocolate, food, and wine since attending the California Culinary Academy’s Professional Chef Program. She has worked in the wine industry, in restaurants, in catering, and for companies specializing in gluten-free, dairy-free and allergen-free foods. Kim also holds a BS degree from California State University, Long Beach.

  • Susanna Gaertner

    As a free-lance writer, Susanna has written about everything from medicine to massage, from art to wine travel for magazines as diverse as Smithsonian, New York Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, New Woman (Australia), the Sydney Morning Herald, The Open Road (Australia), Connoisseur, Art & Auction, the Express Times, and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. As the Santa Cruz Food Examiner for, Susanna shares tips and recipes and has written over 40 articles covering the culinary scene in and around Santa Cruz.
    As a wine travel writer for Epicurean Traveler, she has written about venues in Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and Chile. Susanna would like to extend special thanks to her mentors, the teaching staff of the wine program at the CIA in St. Helena.
    Susanna is on the Board of the UCSC Arboretum, where she is a docent as well as head of the Food Crew.
    When not pursuing her interests in food and wine, Susanna teaches Pilates ( to individuals, small groups, and corporations.
  • Toni Heath

  • Don Lane

    Don founded the Saturn Café, where he developed its signature dessert: the Chocolate Madness. He also made thousands of  hot fudge sundaes and mud pies at both the Saturn Café and the Double Rainbow ice cream shop.
    He typically eats two squares of dark chocolate every day in lieu of a vitamin supplement. 
  • Jocelyn O’Morris

    Jocelyn O'Morris graduated from the Cabrillo College baking program with honors and has since been baking custom cupcakes, cakes, and specialty desserts. The honorable Caffe Trieste in San Francisco was one of her customers.  Following that Jocelyn went on to work as a pastry chef at Capitola's The Shadowbrook restaurant. She has since decided to focus on her career as a caterer and nurture her creative freedom.
  • Susan Pappas

    In 2010 Susan Pappas was looking to start a business in Santa Cruz where she could combine her passion for food, family, and meeting new people. Her “Eureka” moment came when she and her husband Mike discovered an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting room in Belmont, California. Four months later, with their partners Mona and Guillermo Silva they opened their own tasting room and retail boutique, the True Olive Connection, in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. Ever since, the love has been flowing.

    When you visit the True Olive Connection, you’ll be treated like family and introduced to the wonderful world of extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  Susan, Mike, and their friendly staff love to share knowledge about these exceptional products that not only enhance your cuisine and are fun to cook with, they are good for you.

  • Lori Rivera

  • Bonita Sebastian

    Bonita Sebastian has been in love with chocolate from a very early age. Her mother likes to tell the story that one day in a Woolworth’s store (remember those?), she disappeared from her side (a typical behavior). She was 2 ½ at the time. Her mother went looking for her and discovered her sitting on the floor, eating chocolate candy that had been dropped there. She was in early chocolate heaven!

    She has continued her love affair with chocolate and enjoys spreading her delight/pleasure to others… She always takes chocolate to a gathering of family and/or friends.

    At the delicious 7th Chocolate Festival, she was honored to be voted the Santa Cruz Chocoholic of the Year for 2014. With that as an excuse, she has maintained her status by eating even more chocolate this year and further refining her taste buds.

    Bonita is one of the founders of this great community event and has happily and deliciously volunteered at and attended every one. She is looking forward to this year and all the new activities as well as the old favorites. She'll see you there!

  • Beverlie Terra

    Beverlie has spent over 30 “passionate” years in the kitchen and classroom. She was Executive Chef at Chaminade Resort and Spa for over 20 years. She opened a restaurant in Japan and is now working as Research and Development Chef for Sweet Earth Natural Foods in Moss Landing, CA.