The Chocolate Conference 2011 detail was one of those dreamy assignments that from the outset couldn’t possibly suck, and the name lived up to all expectations. This past Saturday morning, and on into the late afternoon, a hoard of chocophiles lined up and paid their small entry fee into the event that was held at the Addison Conference Center with the promise of sampling and learning more about their obsession – chocolate.
Each of the attendees were given a slew of tickets that they could trade for a sample of chocolate from each of the vendors on hand, some local and others who had traveled from across the country.
The event was organized by Dallas chocolate.org owner, Sander Wolf. Wolf’s sole intention for the event was to raise awareness of chocolate in Dallas and to make Dallas a better chocolate city.
“There are a lot of people in Dallas, but not enough chocolate shops. I want to help encourage that and get the chocolatiers around town talking and collaborating,” explained Wolf about the reason for the event.
On how he personally became so obsessed with chocolate, “I grew up loving chocolate, but I went to a private tasting one day in the back of the old Doughmonkey bakery in Snider Plaza and we tasted some chocolate. That was my first time to try small batch artisan chocolate. You would taste this chocolate and get all these different sensations. You would try one and taste an orange flavor, but that was from Madagascar and because of the soil and conditions that’s how it tasted.”
Sander went on to explain that he continued his search for better chocolate, and he simply wants to bring these quality products to our area.
There were many vendors from the Dallas area including CocoAndre and Chocolate Secrets, as well as the legendary chocolatier from Hico, Wiseman House Chocolates. But the most fascinating story came from Askinosie Chocolate owned by Caron and Shawn Askinosie from Springfield, Missouri. The duo go to insane lengths to bring us fantastic single source bean-to-bar chocolates where they literally traverse the planet in search of the best chocolate.
Hopping regularly to such exotic locations as Tanzania, Ecuador and Honduras, Askinosie has sometimes risk life and limb to source his beans that he seeks out with particular vigilance. Once the source is found Askinosie partners and shares profits with the farmers to produce an amazing quality product.
On a recent trip he escorted 13 high school students to remote Tanzania. “This was an amazing experience to see these students, many who had never even been on an airplane, and watch with my own eyes as their lives were transformed in just a short period. I know that if we can expose these kids to the developing world, we can change the world,” said Shawn Askinosie.
Askinosie’s chocolate can be sourced locally at Scardello Cheese and Central Market.
Another taste treat at the conference was the appearance of Oh* Brownie, the brainchild of Iris McCallister, who was sampling her brownies that are also available at Scardello, TJ’s Seafood Market and Jimmy’s Food Store (to name a few). McCallister was excited to be represented saying, “We were honored to be a part of the chocolate conference and to be in such good company of such great chocolatiers. As a gourmet gifting company we were especially excited to know that Callebaut was there since that is what we use in all of our brownies.”
Consider the conference a chocolaty success.