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Chicago's First Fine Chocolate Show

Happy Birthday to Me!

by Food Channel Chef Cathy Nehmer

Chocolate Birthday!! Best birthday ever, for a chocoholic! Part of my birthday celebration was attending Chicago's First Fine Chocolate Show dedicated to the chocolate industry.

Upon entering the hall at Navy Pier, I immediately smelled the incredibly complex aromas of chocolate. I didn't know where to begin; everywhere I looked was chocolate. So, I started going down each aisle. Each person was smiling, explaining their product and giving out delightful samples--which I gratefully took. It was though I was in the Willy Wonka movie, and tasting chocolates the Oompa Loompas had created under the direction of Willy Wonka! Every one of them unique and individual.

A few of the companies that stood out to me included the St. Croix Chocolate Company, with its beautiful presentation of chocolate that looked like art and Chocolat Uzma Sharif, with her "East meets West" exotic flavors - delicious! I also liked Baking with Integrity, Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates, Le Chocoholique and Puffs of Doom. The most eye catching displays were the chocolate sculptures presented by The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College. I had to keep telling myself they were made of chocolate. Several of the chocolatiers had trained at The French Pastry School.

There were so many samples that I started bagging them to savor later. Along with the Consumer side of tasting there was the Trade side exhibiting chocolate equipment, packaging, uniforms, a demo stage and more. Needless to say, I remained on the Consumer side tasting all the silky richness of chocolate! There wasn't enough time for me to go around and taste everything but what I did see and taste, I would like to say, Chicago . . . bring it back bigger and better in 2013!!