Supreme winning chocolate

A locally made plant-based chocolate so delicious that it doesn’t taste vegan is New Zealand’s supreme champion outstanding food product.

Mind Your Temper’s vegan Black Forest Bonbon, described by judges as ‘faultless’, was named Leefield Station Supreme Champion and Bonbon Champion at this year’s Outstanding Food Producer Awards earlier this month.

Crafted from plant-based chocolate made with coconut milk powder, the winning bonbon is one of a range of treats which creator Christchurch’s Nel Vincencio (pictured) says surprise people when they learn they are vegan. “A funny thing happens if I say something is vegan or plant-based. People become suspicious and expect it won’t taste good.” The judges weren’t discouraged; they said the bonbon had “Perfect gloss and shine. Outstanding developed flavour. Exemplary. Amazing flavour journey. Faultless”.

The Supreme Champion and Bonbon Champion awards were among a haul of 13 medals, including six gold for the dessert-maker. More than 250 New Zealand-made food and non-alcoholic drinks gained accolades, with 17 champions and 137 gold medal winners from 355 entries.

Professionally trained in Seattle, Washington, Nel says it was initially difficult to establish himself as a vegan food producer, given that desserts are usually rich in dairy products. “Everyone knows someone who is vegan, or lactose intolerant, so our products are perfect to accommodate that diet while providing joy – and flavour.”

Nel explains it is more difficult to create perfect vegan chocolate and desserts, as there are no proven recipes. After hundreds of trials, he believes he now has the perfect recipe, and multiple awards to prove it.

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