Friday, November 17, 2006

Utah Chocolate Show Report: Day 1

Normally when I get up in the morning, I'm out the door and on my way to work well before my wife turns on Fox 13 News to start her day. This morning I got to sleep in a little bit, since I was going to the chocolate show instead. Imagine my surprise when the famous "Big Buddha" suddenly appeared on our TV, standing next to Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate, at the Utah Chocolate Show. Art did well for his first TV appearance. He was concise and to the point, which is good for TV. I was a little worried that he was going to delve into a lot of detail like he does when he talks to me. It's the sort of thing I thrive on, but not so good for a 60-second news clip.

And thus began the Utah Chocolate Show. I was a little disappointed, but not incredibly surprised when I realized that this was a consumer show. It wasn't quite the kind of trade show that I was used to in the tech industry. Sure, there was chocolate. There were even a couple of wholesalers, and I made sure to get their business cards. But there were a lot of businesses there that didn't even have anything to do with chocolate. The News Agency Corp was there, trying (unsuccessfully, as near as I could tell) to get people to take a free newspaper. I suspect most of the people there had already read that very same newspaper that morning. There was a massage booth. There was some sort of spinal decompression something-or-other. There was something about a free cruise or something.

Fortunately, most of the vendors were chocolate vendors. It wouldn't be much of a chocolate show otherwise, would it? I sampled some sort of "frozen hot chocolate" thing (it was okay, but watery-tasting), some sugar-free energy chocolate (it tasted vaguely chalkily medicinal) and some sort of healthy, organic dark chocolate (surprisingly fruity notes with a pleasant aftertaste, but too high of a melting point to really dissolve on my tongue properly). I tasted toffees, caramels, truffles, chocolate milk, all sorts of goodies. I was somewhat dismayed to note that certain local purveyors weren't there, such as Liberty Hieghts Fresh, Pirate O's and even Bakers C&C. Hopefully we'll see them next year.

I spent most of the day in classes. I signed up for them all. I started with the "Fondants and Centers" class, taught by four delightful women who apparently learned from the great Pauline Atkinson herself. They made frequent, almost reverent reference to Pauline's book Candymaking, and occassionally mentioned Ruth Kendrick, Pauline's daughter who co-authored the book and who was teaching the advanced class next door. I would later take the Beginning Chocolate Dipping class from these same four ladies. Man, I need practice.

I ended my day with the Chocolate Showpieces Made Easy class with Raymond Lammers. This guy is fun to watch, and to listen to. I learned a lot from him, much of which I hope to dispense on this blog in the very future. For those of you in the area who have $95 handy and tomorrow morning free, he will be teaching one more class at 10am. Just before I left the show, I spoke with Melanie Henderson, who is the director of the show, and volunteered to help with any of tomorrow's events. She assigned me to be Raymond's assistant for tomorrow morning's class, so I get to see it again. I'm looking forward to it.


  1. I heard a rumor that you might be ordering good chocolate for making candies and stuff. If that rumor is true, I'd like to get in on it. Chocolate for making your own candy is pretty limiting in the regular market place. My white chocolate raspberry truffles were pretty, but not really all that great in flavor (okay I thought that, no one else did -- but I'm a super chocolate snob).

  2. I notice you did not mention Caputo's among the local purveyors. They should have been the first you mentioned with brands like Amedei, Domori, Venchi, Cluizel, Bonnat, Pralus and dozens more. Sunset Magazine is about to do an article on their selection. You better get in there and check it out. They keep every bar open for customers to sample as well.

  3. I'm going to assume you mean Tony Caputo's and you're right, I should have mentioned them. I have been there before, and they have one of the most amazing chocolate selections in the state. I did mention them in my Greek Festival report, but looking back at it, I failed to mention the chocolate selected there too. I'd better get on the ball here.


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