You guys trust me right? I’ve been doing this for something like two years now (Remember when I tried to earn money by inviting you to attend a haunted house at my apartment? Or when I nearly died taking a Bikram yoga class? Man, we’ve had some times together.) Anyway, by now you know I would never accept a bribe in return for promoting an event or person. (I’m talking to you, Rahm! Get off my stoop!) But if I have one weakness, it’s chocolate (And peanut butter. And anything pink. And Robert Downey Junior). So when I heard that The Chicago Fine Chocolate Show and National Chocolate Show was open to the public, I was anxious to learn more. Not only did I speak with Event Director extraordinaire Jeneane Ally about the upcoming Navy Pier Extravaganza, but I also managed to finagle an invitation. I'll report back with photos. If you lick them, you still won't be able to taste what I'm hoping to taste this weekend, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
Our Town What makes this particular show unique?
Jeneane Ally There is no [other] dual consumer and trade show dedicated to chocolate that currently exists in the U.S. Buyers, sellers, and consumers will all be gathering in the same space. Each of these groups has different needs, and the Chicago Fine Chocolate Show and National Chocolate Show ensure that all of them are fulfilled. There are opportunities to access every part of sales process, from manufacturing and packaging to chefs who utilize chocolate in their creations to the consumers who buy the products. It’s not very often that these groups come together in the same venue.
OT What are some highlights from the show?
JA We are thrilled to partner with such an elite pastry school as the French Pastry School, and some of their award-winning pastry instructors will be demonstrating how to make professional quality chocolate confections and crafting incredible chocolate sculptures. It’s also exciting to have a gathering of fabulous chocolatiers and chocolate artists from across the nation. [The show will] showcase their products to help them garner some well-deserved exposure in previously untapped markets. Finally, I think that the conference sessions and seminars will be a huge draw, as attendees can learn about a variety of aspects of chocolate, with high quality speakers sharing their knowledge of a both the big questions and exciting, unconventional topics. They’ll be discussing everything from making small batch chocolates to the origins of chocolate to its health benefits, and even more.
OT What sort of interactive demonstrations can attendees expect?
JA The consumer seminars provide an ideal small setting for demonstrations with many opportunities for interactivity. Attendees will be able to interact with experts like Beth Kimmerle, a candy maker who works with the Land of Nod to create amazing children’s candy kits, as she teaches about making candy in your own home. The French Pastry School will conduct larger demonstrations onstage on how to make chocolate marshmallows, truffles, brownies, and more—in the future, we hope to make these a fully hands-on experience.
OT Tell me a little about the pairing pavilion.
JA This is a concept we would like to grow and evolve as the show does, because it exposes consumers to different chocolate combinations and helps them choose the types of product that are most appealing to their palate. Clay Gordon, an incredibly knowledgeable chocolate critic from The Chocolate Life, will be on hand to work directly with consumers to help them choose and define their tastes in chocolate. For example, they may know that they like dark chocolate but not how to critically read a label in the grocery store to make an informed decision about which product they will enjoy the most. The pairing pavilion will be a great place to learn and expose people to flavors the may not have tried before, with the added bonus of pairing them with beverages that they might encounter, say, on the menu at a restaurant during the holiday season.
OT Perhaps most essential: Milk or dark?
The event event runs Nov. 16-18. Learn more here.
I'm hoping for another chocolate gun this weekend.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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