Seven of the country's leading pastry chefs and chocolatiers have been selected to compete in the U.S. selections for the 2011 World Chocolate Masters event in Paris. The competition, organized by Barry Callebaut, will take place Sept. 27 and 28 during the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas. The contestants will make Aztec-inspired sculptures out of gourmet chocolate.

The winner of the U.S. selections competition will advance to the 2011 World Chocolate Masters, where he or she will compete against culinary artisans from approximately 20 other countries. (Pictured, right, Lionel Clement, former chef chocolatier at the Wynn Las Vegas, was the last U.S. National Chocolate Master.)

This year's competitors for the U.S. selections for the World Chocolate Masters include: