Ruth’s success on the world stage is the culmination of over 25 years of experience and effort, and has involved considerable sacrifice. Even as a 14-year-old school girl, the passion, talent and enterprising spirit which has driven Ruth to the highest tier of her industry was clear. As a teen, Ruth made and sold chocolates to fundraise for a double tape-deck radio, distributing through her father’s dental practice, and on her 50cc moped – an early success!
Over a career spanning 25 years, the South African-born chocolatier and pastry chef has dedicated much of her life to mastering her craft. Ruth graduated in 1994 from the Silwood School of Cookery in South Africa with a Grand Diploma in Cordon Bleu cooking, before training with Cacao Barry in Meulan, near Paris.
Ruth has always sought to work with the very best chefs, including Albert Roux OBE (pictured). During her school summer holidays, she regularly packed up her chef’s whites and travelled to jobs in France and Belgium.
Aged 23, she emigrated to Australia with her parents. At 25, she was appointed Head Pastry Chef at the 5* Windsor Hotel in Melbourne – a position she also held in 2006 at Edinburgh’s Sheraton Grand Hotel.
Ruth’s talents were quickly recognised by the Australian Culinary Federation, which invited her to represent Australia at the 2000 and 2004 Culinary Olympics, as the team’s pastry chef. Her good friend and teammate, George Calombaris, is now head judge on Masterchef Australia. Following her success with the Australian Culinary team, Ruth was named Australian Pastry Chef of the Year 2002.
In 2005, Ruth married David, who was on a work secondment to Sydney. On their return to the UK, she felt the time was right to start her business. In 2008, they launched Cocoa Black, a manufacturer and retailer of luxury boxed chocolates and celebration cakes based in Peebles, Scotland.
To help raise awareness of her new business, she entered and won several professional pastry chef competitions. The industry awards she achieved (UK World Chocolate Master, UK Confectioner of the Year) transformed Cocoa Black into a celebrated luxury brand, with regular customers including royalty, celebrities and passionate foodies the world over.
Having reached the peak of her profession, Ruth is now motivated by a desire to pass on her chocolate and pastry skills to chocolate lovers, and the next generation of talent in her field. Her second business, The Chocolate & Pastry School, is now recognised as one of Europe’s leading training facilities, offering both classes for beginners and professional chefs.
Outside her business, Ruth is in high demand as a guest chef and judge. She was one of five international pastry chefs selected to demonstrate at Gourmet Abu Dhabi (Asia’s largest culinary exhibition), and recently judged alongside Michel Roux Jr. at the UK Chocolate Masters competition.
As a brand ambassador for the global chocolate manufacturer Cacao Barry, Ruth has rare insight into the latest chocolate and pastry trends, techniques, flavours and products. She’s widely considered to be a key influencer within the industry, and in 2015 spearheaded a golden ticket campaign promoting the launch of the new £294M Borders Railway line.