For its biannual Recognition of Excellence awards, the FCIA highlights meaningful contributions to the industry — in both creating and promoting fine chocolate. The board considers the qualifications of each candidate, while the more than 360 member organizations vote on tthe winners.
"We are excited to celebrate the great achievements of FCIA's 2019 Recognition of Excellence awardees,” said Clark Guittard, FCIA president and Guittard’s director of sustainability. “Each has helped to advance the fine chocolate industry in their respective category.”
Héctor José Rizek of Rizek Cacao will receive the award for outstanding service to the industry. His family business has been growing, processing and exporting cacao from the Dominican Republic since 1905. Its beans adhere to organic, Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance standards.
The FCIA selected Christopher Elbow, the proprietor behind his namesake chocolate line and retail shop, in the category of fine chocolatier. A professional pastry chef, Elbow opened his first shop in Kansas City in 2003, followed by a second location in San Francisco; his chocolates, truffles and bonbons are also available at dozens of retailers across the US.
In the fine chocolate maker/manufacturer category, the FCIA is honoring Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe — a chef, chocolatier, artist and entrepreneur. She is perhaps best known for her work teaching Venezuelan women (11k so far) the art of making chocolate.
The FCIA also recognizes the work of media or other professionals promoting fine chocolate to a wider audience. This year’s award in communications goes to Clay Gordon of The Chocolate Life, who has been teaching and writing about chocolate for more than 25 years. He founded the New World Chocolate Society, and in 2007 published a book, Discover Chocolate: The Ultimate Guide to Buying, Tasting, and Enjoying Fine Chocolate.
The 2019 lifetime achievement award will go to the Franceshi Family of Venezuela’s Casa Franceschi, a family-owned and operated chocolate supplier established nearly 200 years ago, in 1830. The Franceshis run Venezuela’s largest cocoa farm.
Registration for FCIA’s summer event is still open.