Friday, October 28, 2011

What a Weekend!

Customers often ask me if Seattle is the leader in the artisan chocolate movement. While Seattle certainly has a vibrant artisan chocolate community and a lot of local pride, I've always felt there were other cities like San Francisco, Portland and Washington, DC, that deserved equal credit. Until this weekend.

I'm very proud to say that the Northwest Chocolate Festival, held last weekend at Seattle Center, has firmly established Seattle as a leader in the artisan chocolate movement. There are chocolate festivals held all around the country, so what makes this festival so unique and successful? Its focus on cacao and education.

Unlike most festivals, it's not just another feeding frenzy where attendees eat as much chocolate as they can without really getting to know the artisan. The Northwest Chocolate Festival educates chocolate lovers by putting them face-to-face with craft chocolate makers, not just for samples, but for interesting talks about how chocolate is made from the bean and what defines quality chocolate. You can learn about the magic of conching, taste the fruit of the cacao tree or meet an Ecuadorian cacao farmer, all while tasting great chocolate.

Admittedly, it was a bit of a hard sell at first. Craft and artisan chocolate makers are often on shoestring budgets with little money to travel across country for another chocolate festival that sounds like a feeding frenzy. The team that put together the Northwest Chocolate Festival did a great job convincing 19 craft and artisan chocolate makers to attend, many of them from places like North Carolina and Massachusetts. These artisans, all passionate about chocolate, filled up a room with tables offering samples of their chocolate. I looked into the room on Sunday afternoon, and there was a line snaking out of the room waiting to file by every table. Sales were so brisk that many of the artisans ran out of chocolate to sell.

But don't let me leave you thinking the festival was too serious. There was plenty of chocolate fun to be had as well. The Culinary Kitchen Stage offered great demos from local chocolatiers with plenty of samples to try as well as booths for purchasing local bonbons and confections. And the Aphrodisiac Room was, well, aphrodisiac, with chocolate body painting and wine and chocolate pairings, to name a few activities. There was something to enjoy for chocolate lovers of every ilk, be they chocoholics, chocophiles or just curious.

I'd like to thank the organizers, who did a fabulous job of putting this event together. Brian Cisneros, Brie Moulton, Kate Selting and your many staff volunteers and volunteers, great work! I'd also like to thank Seattle, for demonstrating to the world of chocolate what we've known all along, that Seattleites enjoy learning about their food as much as they enjoy eating it.

Happy chocolate tasting,
Lauren Adler
Chief Chocophile

1 comment:

Northwest Chocolate Festival said...

Thank you Lauren, this is an amazing article and we really couldn't put this on without your support and the support of the chocolate making community!