Vata Edari, master chocolatier and founder of CocoVaa Chocolatier on Madison’s east side, was honored at the 2019 Academy of Chocolate Awards July 22 at the iconic Claridge’s Hotel in London. CocoVaa won 11 awards – including 3 gold awards – presented in this international competition for 2019.
“It was truly amazing. I’m just so happy. Apparently, it was a much stiffer competition this year, so my wins were all that more remarkable. They had more submissions this year than at any time in history. I believe they had a total of more than 1,500 from almost 50 countries,” Edari tells Madison365 in a 2 a.m. call from London after the awards ceremony. “The nice thing about winning these awards is that you get to meet the grand jurors and the judges and you realize how legit the whole thing is.”
The Academy of Chocolate was founded in 2005 by five of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals, united in the belief that eating fine chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures. The Academy of Chocolate Awards in London is the world’s longest-running and most-prestigious fine chocolate competition.
“I was so happy to have my son with me on the trip. He’s been such an important part of my business and it was important for him to be up on the stage with me as I received these awards,” Edari says referring to her 11-year-old son Solomon. “To see the joy on his face and how proud he was how he wanted to hold the award certificates … that made me so happy as a mom. I’ve had to spend time away from because of this business and he has seen me tired all the time because of it, so to have this unique opportunity where he was recognized, too, it made me feel like a really good mom and very proud.”
CocoVaa Chocolatier is located at 1815 East Washington Avenue on Madison’s east side and is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with plans to expand its hours in the fall. This is CocoVaa Chocolatier’s third year in business and its second year entering the prestigious Academy of Chocolate Awards. CocoVaa has now won 28 total awards since it first entered in 2018.
“It’s just very humbling. I’m competing against some very well-known established companies so that is intimidating,” Edari says. “To be here in London and to be on the stage – they only call the Gold winners up on the stage – and there are only 5 of us worldwide in the main category. I got two of those golds. Then they called my name again and we won a third gold. It felt so good to be recognized internationally in front of all of these people from all over the world. If feels really surreal … overwhelming, really.”