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Taiwanese chocolatier defies smell blindness to win major awards

07/06/2024 11:57 PM
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Chocolatier Queenie Wu. Photo courtesy of Q Sweet
Chocolatier Queenie Wu. Photo courtesy of Q Sweet

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Taiwanese chocolatier Queenie Wu (吳葵妮) defied smell blindness caused by COVID-19, to triumph at an International Chocolate Awards' (ICA) regional competition held in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Wu, founder of Taipei-based "Q Sweet" chocolate shop, picked up one gold, two silvers and two bronze medals, plus two special prizes at the 2024 Asia-Pacific Bean-to-Bar and Craft Chocolatier Competition on July 1.

The victory at the world's largest chocolate product competition was hard-earned, Wu told CNA in a recent interview.

Wu said she has suffered from loss of smell since contracting COVID-19 last year and initially decided not to participate in the 2024 competition, which features chocolate makers from the Asia-Pacific region who create various types of chocolate bars, filled chocolates, dragées, and spreads.

Wu, whose chocolates have so far won five ICA World Final golds and six ICA Asia-Pacific golds, said she was so disappointed at being unable to smell she felt she had already peaked.

"At that time, I kept reassuring myself that Beethoven could still compose music despite being deaf," Wu said, recalling her six months of smell blindness.

Wu said she decided to join the contest after praying one day, when it occurred to her that she should "let the world see the performance and voices of Taiwanese artisans from all fields."

Fortunately, she has since nearly fully recovered her sense of smell with the help of Chinese medicine.

Reflecting on the most challenging part of her creative process, Wu said she drew inspiration from mixology to capture the flavor of Tonka beans -- a flavorful but toxic spice -- and incorporate it into her chocolates.

Her creations made a strong impression on the judges, with "Tonka style x Drizzle Allen" winning silver, and "Exclusive- Tonka x Drizzle Allen" securing bronze and a special award in the white chocolate category.

In the same category, her piece "Monet's Garden" won a gold medal, "Asia Girl Power" earned silver, "Comfort Fruit-Green Mango & Spices" took bronze along with a special award.

Taiwanese chocolatiers from dessert shops such as Fu Wan Chocolate, Evergreen Hotel and Zengzhiyuan Chocolate also won big at the competition.

According to the ICA, winners from all regional contests advance to the World Final later this year.

(By Yu Hsiao-han and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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