San Diego surfing chef crowned America’s chocolate king

Nearly since he began his occupation two decades in the past as an adolescent pastry apprentice at a Michelin-starred eating place in France, Christophe Rull has had his eye on one prize: the distinguished identify of International Chocolate Grasp. Closing week, he were given one step nearer to his dream.

On Friday in Chicago, the 36-year-old San Marcos resident used to be topped the U.S. Chocolate Grasp on the International Chocolate Masters’ American semifinals. Subsequent fall, Rull will sign up for competition from 21 different international locations in Paris to compete for most sensible prize on the 2021-22 International Chocolate Masters tournament. Within the pageant’s 16-year historical past, no U.S. champion has ever gained the worldwide crown. Rull hopes to modify that.

“I think crushed and I’m proud,” Rull mentioned, of his victory on the two-day semifinals final week. “It’s been a dream for a in point of fact very long time to constitute The us for what’s my pastime. It’s a perfect feeling.”

Christophe Rull named U.S. Chocolate Master at World Chocolate Masters contest in Chicago on Oct. 8.

Christophe Rulle, 36, of San Marcos, draped in U.S. flag, is showered with confetti after being named U.S. Chocolate Grasp on the International Chocolate Masters nationwide contest in Chicago on Oct. 8.

(Paul Strabbing)


The French-born Rull mentioned he spent two years coaching in his spare time for the semifinals. Then in July, he stepped down from his activity on the Park Hyatt Aviara Hotel in Carlsbad, the place he had labored the former 5 years as govt pastry chef, so he may just focal point full-time on contest preparation. Most often 4 to 6 U.S. chocolate cooks qualify for the semifinals, however on account of pandemic-related problems, maximum of this 12 months’s semifinalists dropped out in within the months main as much as the semifinals. When he arrived in Chicago final week, Rull used to be the one competitor left, however he nonetheless needed to go 5 qualifying demanding situations to earn the United States variety.

“With the demanding situations cooks are going through in hospitality, it made it very tricky for the cooks to focal point and commit time to compete. Chef Christophe has proven such a lot determination to the International Chocolate Masters, even with the demanding situations from the pandemic. It’s extraordinarily spectacular how he’s chasing after his dream,” mentioned Alexandra Foster, academy emblem supervisor for Cacao Barry, the Swiss chocolate corporate that sponsors the contest.

The theme for the 2021-22 pageant is #TMRW, which means how cooks, scientists and architects can paintings in combination to create the chocolate of the following day. In Chicago, Rull needed to design and execute 5 chocolate demanding situations at the theme, together with a 3-D chocolate sculpture, a plant-based chocolate snack and a “patisserie of the following day.” Foster describes the contest as “the Olympics of the chocolate global.”

Christophe Rull's coral-inspired raspberry chocolate cremeux for the U.S. Chocolate Masters title.

Christophe Rull’s ocean coral-inspired raspberry wild fennel chocolate cremeux, one in every of his successful designs for the U.S. Chocolate Grasp identify on Oct. 8.

(Paul Strabbing)

Rull’s first project used to be growing in chocolate a “temper board” of what the #TMRW theme intended to him. As a result of he’s an avid surfer, scuba-diver and environmentalist, he tied his love of the sea into his temper board and several other different creations. His 3-D sculpture featured a manta ray, his “style” problem used to be a raspberry chocolate introduction that gave the look of coral on an ocean reef and his “bon bon” problem used to be served on piece of driftwood.

The competition’s 3 judges all wrote of their notes that they admired Rull’s consistency at the ocean theme. Juror Dimitri Fayard, a 2008 International Pastry Champion, mentioned Rull’s strengths are in “presentation, utility, visible and style. The entirety used to be coherent and relative.” And juror Martin Diez, an teacher at Cacao Barry’s French Chocolate Academy, wrote “Christophe is a robust contestant and he’s coming on the ultimate with the theory of successful.” Within the coming 12 months, Cacao Barry USA will give a boost to Rull with further coaching and mentorship and can sponsor his travel to Paris.

Rull mentioned he felt excellent about how easily the whole thing went final week. He’s excellent at dealing with his nerves since he’s grow to be a seasoned competitor. A few of the many competitions he has gained through the years are Meals Community’s “Halloween Wars” in 2017 and Meals Community’s “Vacation Wars” in 2018. He’s also now featured on Netflix’s just-released cooking series “Bake Squad,” the place he gained probably the most demanding situations of all 4 contestants. He additionally gained chocolate artist awards in 2014 and 2015 on the Pastry Reside U.S. pageant.

"Bake Squad" star Christian Tosi of Milk Bar works with contestant Christophe Rull on the Netflix competition series.

“Bake Squad” megastar Christian Tosi of Milk Bar works with contestant Christophe Rull of San Marcos within the first episode of “Bake Squad,” a brand new pageant sequence that premiered Aug. 11 on Netflix.

(Package Karzen/Netflix)

Born and raised in Marseilles, France, Rull began cooking via his father’s facet as a small boy and via 16 used to be running as a chef’s apprentice. After running his means thru a number of Michelin-starred eating place kitchens and attending 4 years of culinary college, he zeroed in on pastry as his occupation focal point. In 2009, he moved to the US to serve at the opening pastry workforce for the Aria Las Vegas Resort & On line casino and later labored on the MGM Grand Las Vegas and Park Hyatt Aviara. On the Park Hyatt, Rull wowed hotel guests via growing mammoth chocolate sculptures for the foyer every vacation season.

Rull lives in San Marcos along with his spouse, Wilma, and 16-year-old stepson Byron. Just lately he has begun providing digital cooking courses for and in-person courses for the Stéphane Tréand Pastry School in Tustin. The remainder of his time Rull is dedicating to coaching for the International Chocolate Masters, which he mentioned would require at least 40 hours per week of determination till the finals in October 2022 on the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

“I can move at it 100%,” Rull mentioned. “I’ll attempt to discover a steadiness between being centered at the pageant and main a wholesome lifestyles. I want to step up my sport and encompass myself with inspiring people who find themselves professionals that I will be able to be told from.”

Christophe Rull creates a cookie and mocha drink product at World Chocolate Masters USA semifinals.

Christophe Rull creates a cold-brew mocha drink and vegan hazelnut cookie snack package deal all through the U.S. semifinals for the International Chocolate Masters pageant, which he gained on Oct. 8 in Chicago.

(International Chocolate Masters)