Wyoming will be well represented at the World Championship of Pastry, Ice Cream, and Chocolate in Milan, Italy, next month. Jackson-based pastry chef Rhonda Ashton and chocolatier Oscar Ortega were recently chosen to compete for Team USA at the annual international competition.

Ashton, Ortega, and two other American chefs will battle teams from 16 countries. The seven-hour event includes three categories: chocolate sculpture, cake sculpture, and ice cream sculpture.

Ashton is an industry veteran who has worked in restaurants and hotels around the country for 32 years. In 2015, she was hired as the executive pastry chef by the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson. This will be her first appearance at the World Championship.

Ortega was born in Mexican City and worked in England, France, and Italy, before opening his first pastry shop Atelier Ortega in Jackson Hole in 2004. In 2012, he added a second shop in Jackson, CocoLove. This year will mark Ortega's fifth time at the World Championships. In 2016, he won the award for Best Pralines in the World.

Ashton and Ortega have been preparing for the contest together. So far, they've made eight sculptures and they plan to test five more recipes before flying to Italy for the competition next month.

"It’s not about the win, although who doesn’t want to win?," Ashton told Buckrail. "It’s about pushing yourself, learning, growing and being part of the whole experience.”


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