Serving Hope Chocolate Challenge 2017

     The inaugural Serving Hope Chocolate Challenge & Tasting was an amazing success! Just shy of 300 attendees came to our first large scale fundraiser! Cepeda Systems & Software Analysis was our title sponsor, and through their generosity we were able to secure the Jackson Center as our venue.  This year’s Chocolate Challenge was honored to host the exceptional culinary talents of area professionals: Grille29, The Chocolate Gallery, Church St. Purveyor, The Donut Hole, Morgan Price Candy Company, The Railyard, The Lumberyard, Chocolate by Julia, Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Dessert Fork, and The Von Braun Center. We were also blessed to have nine amateur contestants which included an awesome team from The Downtown Rescue Mission, moms, and area home cooks!

Festivities began a little after 6pm, and spectators roamed around freely meeting the contestants, enjoying samples, and visiting the cash bar. The offerings presented by our contestants were out of this world! Some of the most notable dishes from our professionals were Ancho Chili Dark Chocolate Mousse with Passion Fruit Glaze (Grille 29), Double Chocolate Roll (The Chocolate Gallery), and White Chocolate and Hazelnut Arancini Balls (Church Street Purveyor). Our amateur contenders brought their “A” game and wowed the crowd and judges with submissions like Truffle Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache, Decadent Mint Brownies, and Candied Orange Slices dipped in Chocolate served with Homemade Grand Marnier. All attendees were asked to vote on their favorite professional and amateur competitors for the people choice award. We also raffled off cakes donated by Publix in Twickenham Square, Cyn Shea’s ‘Cynfully delicious cake line’, and one lucky winner went hope with a one night stay compliments of Embassy Suites.

Elizabeth Gentle, Jessica Moncrief, Kevin Fernandez, Catherine Knowles, Lisa Williams (from left to right) Photo Credit: Rich Ortiz

Our professionals and amateurs were judged formally in multiple different categories based on taste, presentation, and creativity. Our celebrity judges included WAFF48 newscaster, Elizabeth Gentle; engineer, entrepreneur, and public speaker, Lisa Williams; Author of The Doughnut Tree, Catherine Knowles; President and CEO of Fernandez Financial Group, Kevin Fernandez; District 1 councilman, Devyn Keith; and Cyn Shea’s Café and Catering’s own resident baker, Jessica Moncrief. Grand prize in both the professional and amateur categories was, Serving Hope Chocolate Champion. The title of Serving Hope Chocolate Champion was awarded to the professional or amateur that shows a mastery of chocolate that combines flavor, presentation, imagination, and skill.

Cindy’s Grand Mariner & Chocolate Dipped Oranges Photo Credit: Rich Ortiz

Our amateur Chocolate Champion was Mrs. Cindy Yates. Cindy impressed the judges and the crowd with her Candied Oranges and Homemade Grand Mariner.

 2017’s professional Chocolate Champion award went to Church Street Purveyor for their one-of-a-kind flavor combinations and gorgeous presentation. Purveyor’s menu was created by chef Rene Boyzo, check it out below!

We would like to give special thanks to Ms. Fran Fluher of Manna House and all the wonderful volunteers from the Huntsville Dream Center who helped us with the chocolate challenge. Their time and commitment were invaluable in making this event a success! We also can’t say thank you enough to all of our contestants both professional and amateur without their contributions, the Chocolate Challenge wouldn’t have been possible. All in all, it was an evening of exceptional food and great company. The event was so much fun that we have already booked the Jackson Center for next year!

If the Chocolate Challenge and Tasting sounds like an event you would like to attend to please visit, and get your tickets today. If you would like to compete in or volunteer at the 2018 Chocolate Challenge and Tasting, please call or email event coordinator; Julie Johnson, at 256-532-5282 or


Church Street Purveyor Chocolate Challenge 2017 Menu

by Rene Boyzo

Pistachio & Almond Chicken Skewers
paired with an Oaxacan chocolate mole sauce

Orange Ancho Pepper & Dark Chocolate Infused Chicken Skewers
with Oaxacan chocolate mole sauce

Coffee & Chocolate Rubbed Prime Beef Tenderloin Medallion
with porcini and chocolate blue cheese sauce

Chocolate & Cayenne Pepper Sautéed Shrimp Taco
with white chocolate polenta, peppermint avocado, and chocolate mousse

Grilled Pork Lollipop Skewers
infused with a black cherry, mushroom, and chocolate wine demi glaze

White Chocolate Goat Cheese & Mint Milk Chocolate Double Layer Cheesecake
covered with chocolate ganache

White Chocolate & Hazelnut Arancini
topped with a vanilla and white chocolate crème anglaise