Chocolate expo celebrates 15th year

 

Click above for the photo gallery. All photos by Jonathan Tan/WSN

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This past weekend, some of the chocolate world’s best and brightest gathered at the Metropolitan Pavilion to celebrate the New York Chocolate Show’s 15th year. There was something for everyone at this expo-style event; one could walk down the aisles of chocolate manufacturers, sampling anything from Pacari Chocolate’s chocolate covered golden berries to Buzz’s Fudge’s Red Wine spiked fudge.

Experts of the field showed audience members the tricks of the trade at culinary demonstrations scattered throughout the weekend.

One attendee of the show, Carol Lindia, age 66, said the demonstrations were her favorite part of the show.

“I’ve made candy before, but I never knew all the little intricacies before this,” Lindia said.

Attendees viewed in awe at chocolate spectacles galore. On one side of the room, Paul Joachim, of artedibles.com, worked on life-sized chocolate models. In another corner, spectators ogled a dress adorned in delicate chocolate leaves and vines, designed by Michelle Tampakis of the Institute of Culinary Education.

The show also featured book signings sponsored by Barnes & Noble, which included names such as food historian Francine Segan and candy expert Beth Kimmerle. There was also a Kid’s Zone for eager children to decorate miniature cupcakes.

Another interesting aspect of this year’s show was a focus on healthy choices. Several booths featured raw cocoa products where company reps discussed the health benefits of chocolate with customers. One such company was Gnosis Raw Chocolate, which makes each chocolate bar with unroasted beans and labels them with a specific purpose such as endurance or heart. Many booths had vegan selections, too.

But this year’s chocolate festival wasn’t all smooth sailing, as Hurricane Sandy hindered the show’s production and a fair portion of vendors were not able to attend. Many still pulled through, and some were helping with relief efforts. California-based Jer’s Chocolates, for example, designed a special Sandy package for raising funds and is donating a portion of its proceeds and products to hurricane relief organizations.

Despite the storm, the show went on and the turnout was impressive. Tickets were pricey as they ranged from $35 to $40, but an air of excitement permeated the crowd, suggesting it was worth the splurge. The people running the booths, many of them returning members, were generally excited to be part of this show and part of the chocolate world as well.

One such person was Chris Aigner, the vice president of Queens-based Aigner Chocolate, a family company that has been in business for 82 years.

“It’s just nice to be a in a business where I am selling a product people just love,” Aigner said. “It brings you joy.”

Amanda Meier of Rogue Confections agreed.

“It’s just a fun atmosphere,” she said. “It’s fun to meet people who love candy as much as we do.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 13 print edition. Margaret Weinberg is a contributing writer. Email her at [email protected] 

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