Our focus is on celebrating confections - whether chocolate covered bon bons or gloriously simple caramels - produced using locally grown, natural, minimally processed ingredients that celebrate regional culture and tradition; highlight American terroir; and exemplify excellent in the candy making craft. View the full criteria for entry.


Susie Wyshak, Good Food Concierge, is delighted to draw upon her confection obsession–a childhood chocolate wrapper collection, several years at a confectionery, an MBA thesis on chocolate, and starting the Fair Trade chocolate program in the US–to help recognize candy makers in America who are especially dedicated to conscious sourcing and deliciousness.


Brian Wood is the owner and Executive Pastry Chef of Starter Bakery in Oakland, CA. Prior to opening Starter, Brian was a consultant, product developer and baking and pastry instructor at the San Francisco Baking Institute. While at SFBI Brian designed and taught the pastry curriculum. In addition to teaching, Brian wrote the Viennoiserie and Pastry sections of Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach and oversaw all aspects of the project from start to finish. Brian lives in Oakland, CA.

Alice Medrich is one of the country’s foremost experts on chocolate. She opened her renowned dessert company, Cocolat in Berkeley, California in 1976 and she won the James Beard Cookbook of the Year award in 1990 and 1994. Medrich continues to influence chefs, chocolate makers, and home cooks, by writing, teaching and consulting.

Gary Guittard is the president and CEO of Guittard Chocolate Company, one of the last family-owned American chocolate companies. He was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. He has received numerous awards and published articles on chocolate and the industry.

Clay Gordon began his chocolate journey in 1994 after discovering Bonnat chocolate. He quickly realized that there was no one talking about chocolate in the same way as wine, so he decided to become a chocolate critic. He started publishing The Chocolate Life in May 2001.

Diane Campbell is the owner of The Candy Store in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. Specializing in hard-to-find confections from around the world, the store realizes Diane’s dream of creating a place where candy is accorded the same respect as fine wine or cheese. Opened in 2007, The Candy Store has become a mecca for serious candy lovers everywhere.

Bernard Pacyniak has covered the global confectionery industry for Candy Industry magazine as editor-in-chief for the past eleven years. His professional experience encompasses more than 25 years of reporting, writing and editing about food processing, most of it focused on baked goods, snacks and confections. He has a passion for dark chocolate, wine and music.

Nina Wanat is the author of Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home. She also founded BonBonBar Confections, which specialized in candy bars handmade with organic and local ingredients.


Aimee Thunberg, Director of Communications, Slow Food USA
Amy Sherman, Freelance Writer & Cookbook Author
Carrie Sullivan, Chef Instructor at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of CA
Clay Gordon, Creator and Moderator at The Chocolate Life
Danielle Vogel, Owner and Manager at Glen’s Garden Market
David Merritt, Director of Engineering at Buyers Best Friend
Diane Campbell, Owner at The Candy Store
Deirdre David, Pastry Chef and Baking Instructor at Laney College
Irvin Lin, Founder at Eat the Love
Jenny Raven, Pastry Chef at Boot & Shoe Service
Jesse Manis, Owner at Cacao
Kara Nielsen, Trendologist  at CCD Innovation
Louise Kramer, Communications Director at Specialty Food Association
Maddy Beckwith, Administrative & Chef-at-Market Program Coordinator at FRESHFARM Markets
Melissa Baldauf, Sales at DropBox
Melissa Scheeline, Buyer of Food at William Sonoma
Michelle Marie Ritchie, Founder at Delicious Karma
Neil Lick, Vice President of Retail Merchandising at William Sonoma
Nina Wanat, Confectioner & Author of Sweet Confections
Robb Duncan, Owner at Dolcezza Gelato
Sarah Gordon, Owner at Gordy’s Pickles
Sol-mi Friedman, Assistant Buyer at Fog City News
Susie Norris, Author at Hand-Crafted Candy Bars