Winners of the third Vegan Chocolate Awards revealed

Winners of the third Vegan Chocolate Awards revealed

The Vegan Society Aotearoa announce their third annual Chocolate Awards which were held on 29th April at Khu Khu restaurant in Ponsonby. Six judges attended the awards, each one offering a unique perspective on the award categories and from their own areas of expertise. With over 80 entries from 15 different companies, including many new entrants keen to try their hand at winning, the judges had their work cut out for them. The judges were wowed this year including accolades for bon bons and bean to bar for their excellence. The bean to bar category celebrates the same beans from Uganda!

New judge Tracy Berno, a Professor in Food Studies at AUT, has worked in food for over 30 years in roles ranging from academic to presenting cooking classes and demonstrations to catering. Thomas Netana Wright has a rich background in Europe’s and the UK’s finest patisseries and chocolatiers, Thomas is on a mission to redefine the essence of chocolate. His journey from prestigious Michelin-starred kitchens to launching Ao Cacao reflects his passion for ethically and sustainably grown cacao, combined with unique Pacific and Aotearoa flavours for an unparalleled bean-to-bar experience. The final new judge is Giapo Grazioli, the founder and chef at Giapo Ice Cream. Giapo saw that ice cream had the potential to be more expressive than what it had been so far. In his mind ice cream had to carry a different narrative and anyone who has visited the store in Downtown Auckland, knows this is a most delicious narrative!

Stalwart judge, Aaron Pucci, has clocked up 25 years in the food and beverage manufacturing industry. His trusted palate has earned him numerous seats on judging panels for awards in New Zealand and Australia over 15 years. Judge Jasbir ‘Jazz” Kaur is a multi-award-winning executive chef & trainer, TV personality, creative head and chef of the new series “Ignite the Chef in You” and President of the NZ Chef Association Auckland, Chef Jazz is an external verifier for City and Guilds, UK. Floris Niu is a fourth generation Samoan Cacao farmer, processor and Chocolate-maker. She’s the founder of Ms Sunshine Organic Farms which operates Cacao Agritourism experiences on Upolu Island.

This year there were 2 new categories added, Bark/ Brittle chocolate and Dipped Fruit. The Society is proud to announce the launch of these new categories aimed at recognizing exceptional producers in the industry.

“Although this year’s inaugural entry garnered attention and admiration, we understand that success is a journey. Therefore, the Vegan Society extends our heartfelt appreciation to all participants and acknowledges their contributions towards shaping this burgeoning sector. While there were no winners for the Dipped Fruit this year, we believe that every effort deserves recognition, and are committed to fostering growth and excellence within the industry. As we look ahead to the future, we encourage producers to continue pushing boundaries, exploring new ideas, and striving for excellence. Together, let us elevate the standard of Chocolate Dipped Fruit and inspire future generations.” Said Vegan Society spokesperson Claire Insley.

The Winners and Runners Up are:


Pico: Super Dark
Judges said refine and elegant with a clean aftertaste. Well balanced and rounded. Moreish with a nice flavour journey.

Dark Chocolate bars

Winner: Pico Super Dark
Judges said Refined and smooth, carrying great cocoa with notes and enduring finish.

Runner Up: Solomons Gold Dark Velvet
Judges said Smoky cacao flavour carried well with a smooth body and great mouth feel.

Milk Chocolate bars (plant milk only)

Winner: Solomons Gold Dark Mylk Chocolate
Judges said Robust smoky creamy with a pleasant after taste. Good snap. Beautiful intense creamy notes that linger.
Runner up: Wellington Chocolate Factory Oat Milk Chocolate
Judges said Good melt and good flavour. Good after taste with balanced lingering notes. Complexity of the oat milk adds interest.

Chocolate Bars; flavoured/ inclusions

Winner: Solomons Gold Dark Orange
Judges said Wonderful smoky orange flavours matched perfectly by crisp smooth texture. Well done!
Runner Up: Mind Your Temper Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate
Judges said Smooth and creamy texture, carries the toasted hazelnut beautifully. Lovely lingering after taste.

Filled Chocolate Bon Bons and Truffles

Judge said this was an amazing category of a very high quality, made this a tougher competition.
Winner La Petite: Rose Cardamom Bon bon
Judges said A delicate and smooth texture- harmonious. Well tempered chocolate. Nice crunch.
Runner up 1: Mind Your Temper; Spiced Orange Hot X Bons
Judges said A nice combination of grain and creaminess. Subtle yet intense flavour. Elegant, posh.
Runner up 2: Mind Your Temper: Calamansi and Speculoos
Judges said Nice burst of flavour, finishing with a creamy and caramel aftertaste. Good shine on the chocolate.


Winner: Honest Chocolate Double Chocolate Caramel
Judges said Very evenly balanced, faultless. Overall sweetness not too sweet. Look and texture perfect.
Runner up: Wonderland Salted Milk Chocolate Caramel
Judges said Overall great! Great use of dairy alternative!

Bean to Bar; dark milk/ subs/ flavoured

Both winner and runner up of a very high standard
Winner: Foundry Chocolate: Semuliki Forest Uganda
Judges said Smooth texture and balance. The roasting profile really shone through and accentuated the beans. Excellent, faultless, well balanced chocolate with a great finish and lingering flavour.
Runner up: Valura Chocolate: Semuliki Forest Uganda
Judges said Texture faultless. Smooth finish. Roasting profile and aroma clear

Drinking Chocolate

Winner: She Universe Hot Chocolate Orblets
Judges said Smooth, dense and very rich. Honest and smooth on the palette.
Runner up: Heavenly- Hot Chocolate judges said- marshmallows are a nice touch. Good after taste. Sweet after. Could be a little more dense. Improve texture.

Bark/Brittle Chocolate

Winner: She Universe Sassy Sesame (Tumari & Toasted Seeds) Bark

Judges said Crispy, crunchy seeds embedded in smooth, very well flavoured dark chocolate. Very moreish.

Dipped Fruit

Award of Recognition goes to She Universe Decadent Date

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