NW Chocolate Festival gratifies
By MEGAN EVANS
If a convention center full of chocolate workshops and samples of gourmet chocolate and alcohol sounds like heaven, consider checking out the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle. The annual convention just hosted their fifth consecutive year of exploring the intricacies of the chocolate world on Sept. 20-22.People from all over the world gathered at the Washington State Convention Center to spend two days experiencing and exploring the world of gourmet chocolates. From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., experts in the world of chocolate gave workshop lectures on a wide range of topics relating to chocolate. The lectures ranged from chocolate sculpture-making to models for fair trade chocolate companies, and sensorial chocolate tasting to preserving cacao genetics. The lectures were designed to appeal to a wide range of people, from amateur tasters to professionals. Many of the lectures handed out samples to demonstrate their materials.If sitting in a lecture was too scholastic, festival-goers could head upstairs to experience samples from over 50 vendors represented at the fair. Chocolate makers from all over the United States and the world were represented at the festival. Most chocolatiers had samples of their products to share, and were eager to answer questions about their products. All of the chocolate was considered “gourmet,” and because of the setup of the festival, the prices were competitive.The festival was not limited to chocolate vendors. Everything from pastries to caramels were available to sample. Some vendors were even selling their oils and shrubs (a vinegar syrup) to complement the array of sweets. Once the 21+ crowd had their fill of chocolate samples, they could head over to the Aphrodisiac Room, where the sensual side of chocolate could be explored. Workshops in this room varied from “Painting the Body with Chocolate” (presented by Babeland) to “Wine and Chocolate pairings.” While sipping on chocolate vodka or Almond Roca wine, visitors could read about the science behind chocolate’s aphrodisiac qualities, or they could admire art by La Figa, where chef Tiberio Simone decorated naked bodies with food.For the under-21 crowd, there were plenty of demonstrations to observe. At the culinary Kitchen Stage, visitors could watch professional chocolate makers display their talents. Demonstrations included how to make vegan ganache to how to present pastries by the Art Institute of Seattle.The theme of the event was “bean-to-bar” chocolates. Bean-to-bar refers to efforts most gourmet chocolate makers take to ensure that all of their ingredients are of the highest quality—starting with the farm they come from and ending with the finished product. Many of the chocolate makers stressed their fair-trade and organic values as well. Although every chocolate maker has a different method of achieving their “perfect” product, all of the vendors at the Northwest Chocolate Festival share a great passion for chocolate. This year, the festival kicked off on Friday with a chocolate awards night, with awards like “Best Artisan Chocolate Maker” and “Lifetime Achievement” handed to chocolate makers who participated in the festival.Keep your eyes peeled next September for news about the Northwest Chocolate Festival. For more information visit nwchocolate.com.