Meet the Judges

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February 1, 2018

We are getting ready to welcome the 6 contestants to compete in our first AUI Chocolate Cup! We've brought on four world-renowned pastry chefs and chocolatiers to judge the competition: Sylvain Bortolini, Jin Caldwell, Christopher Elbow and Michael Klug!

Sylvain Bortolini


As executive pastry chef, Bortolini is in command of developing the pastry, dessert and chocolate creations for the resort's restaurants, room service and catering operations. His passion for pastries has carried him across the globe, from his native country of France to Mexico and the United States - allowing him to work in Michelin-starred restaurants such as La Bastide Saint Antoine and L'Auberge de la Bonne Route. In 2005, he moved to Mexico City to train under Executive Pastry Chef Jean Marie Auboine at the Hotel Presidente Intercontinental where he was quickly promoted to assistant pastry chef and responsible for pastry production for six restaurants and the hotel's extensive banquet program. Sylvain previously served as executive pastry chef at Bellagio and directed a team of 70 employees in producing more than 15,000 pastries a day.

MGM National Harbor

Jin Caldwell


Jin Caldwell, Master Chocolatier, award-winning Pastry Chef and founder of JinJu Chocolates who, as a young passionate culinary graduate sought a place to channel her creativity. Jin's chocolate journey began under the guidance of some of the world's top Pastry Chef's in Las Vegas. Her diligence, love of chocolate and creativity led her to become a Chocolatier and Pastry Chef at Bellagio Hotel and Wynn-Las Vegas Resort producing award-winning chocolate masterpieces, spectacular sculptures and delectable desserts. Jin's passion for producing premium quality artisan chocolates is understood in each piece she creates. She believes in using only the freshest, all-natural ingredients, sourced from seasonal local ingredients that are preservative free with premium Swiss chocolate.

Christopher Elbow


Christopher Elbow landed his first cooking job at the Lincoln Country Club in 1992, while attending the University of Nebraska. After graduating in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Restaurant and Business Administration, he returned to Kansas City to head up Shiraz Restaurant. Three years later, Christopher landed in Las Vegas to help celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse open Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian. Shortly after that, he moved to Paris - as in the Paris Resort and Casino - to help acclaimed chef Jean Joho open the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. Christopher returned to Kansas City the following year and briefly resumed his role at Shiraz before accepting the pastry chef position at the American Restaurant. It was here that he began perfecting his chocolate-making skills. Before long, he was offering limited quantities of his new creations to local markets. Demand swelled, and to satisfy it, Christopher started his own company.

Michael Klug


As the chocolatier of L.A. Burdick Chocolate, Michael's responsibility is to develop the flavors, textures and complexities found in our confections, while maintaining the integrity and freshness the company is known for. A native of Montabaur, Germany, a small town located between Frankfurt and Cologne, Michael began his career in the food industry in 1986, eventually joining L.A. Burdick Chocolate in October 2002. His considerable expertise as chocolatier developed from his experience as a pastry chef at notable New York restaurants such as Lespinasse, Chanterelle and The Mark. When he is not immersed in chocolate, Michael enjoys fine wines and spending time with his wife and son.