2024 May 30
UK & Ireland preselection

Brace yourselves for an indulgent showdown as the cream of the crop in chocolate craftsmanship from the UK & Ireland convene for World Chocolate Masters: Play! This National Selection promises a feast for the senses, with contestants showcasing their creativity and technical skills in flavour, texture, and design. All contending for the prestigious title of UK & Ireland Chocolate Master. Join us on this sweet adventure as let the assignments reveal the champion who will proudly carry the banner for the region at WCM 2025!

Meet the contestants!

Ian Mark

A chef with an 18-year track record competing for culinary teams, including the RAF, Combined Services, and England. He's earned many gold medals and distinctions, including Bake Off: Crème de la Crème and crafting the RAF 100 official cake. His participation in WCM is a way for him to showcase his career growth and push himself to achieve greatness under the pressure of this competition's spotlight.

Xun Yao

Originally from China, Xun obtained a chemistry degree in France before venturing into the culinary world at the École Nationale Supérieure de Patisserie. In England, she also mastered sugar showpieces and the chocolate craft. With a fusion of Asian and Western influences and blending passion for pastry and a scientific background, she looks to create delights that tease the senses and reflect her diverse cultural experiences.


Graham Mairs

Over 30 years of experience in the hotel and retail industries and skills that have taken him to debut for TV series, such as BBC's Crème de la Crème. He has also collaborated with top culinary figures across Europe. Graham is a food consultant, educator, and founder who continues to delve into his passion for patisserie. As a contestant, he will use the power of storytelling to embody cherished moments in his creations.


Kevin Ng

As a side job, his interest in patisserie had taken him to the kitchens of restaurants and cake boutiques for over 10 years. After joining the industry full-time, he worked his way up to Chef de Partie for a private club. Kevin has also trained with the UK Pastry Team during the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Paris. Today, he wishes to further grow his creative skills by taking on the challenge of the WCM competition.

Meet the jury!

Marc Demarquette

Jury president

Marc Demarquette embarked on his chocolate journey in 2004 with intensive training at Maison Lenôtre in Paris, under the guidance of world-renowned Masters. Since then, he has grown an award-winning chocolate business in the UK, supplying upscale establishments like Fortnum & Mason and Harrods. Marc has also been invited to multiple prestigious chocolate events as a judge. Always driven by his love for craftsmanship, he is known to uphold traditions in a contemporary world, guided by his mantra: Rigour, rigour, rigour!


John Costello


John Costello is a creative soul, currently working as Sr. Confectioner for the product technology centre of Nestlé in York. In his eventful career path, he began as an apprentice in Slatterys before venturing to Switzerland and becoming a tutor at the National Bakery School. John also worked as a chocolate consultant and product developer for leading cake manufacturers. As a Salford Bakery School graduate, his passion for food competitions has earned him industry recognition, including first place in the 2010 UK World Chocolate Masters.

Kathryn Cuthbertson MVO


With over three decades of experience, Kathryn Cuthbertson MVO has mastered the art of pastry and became a renowned chef in prestigious hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide. For more than 10 years, she served as Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Pastry Chef, receiving the Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) honour in 2017. Her career track includes crafting menus for State Occasions, Royal Weddings, and Diplomatic receptions. Today, she channels her expertise into her business in the Yorkshire Dales, offering handcrafted chocolates, bespoke cakes, and masterclasses across the UK.


David Hamilton


David Hamilton is an innovation leader, driving B2B and B2C initiatives across the UK, Ireland and multinational corporations. With two decades of experience, he has a talent for connecting insights to ideas and turning them into products with business and cultural growth at the heart. After 20 years in RD&A/Innovation leadership and a decade in C-Level roles, he still works to take businesses into the future. David is known to be a trusted partner, for his skills as a brand developer and keynote speaker, and for combining his passions of food, science, and technology.



30 May 2024


Chocolate Academy
Banbury, United Kingdom

How to watch?

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for live updates during this qualifying round.