This past Saturday I had the honor of attending the 10th Annual New York Chocolate Show. It was any Candy Addict’s heaven and just a great place to spend a cold, windy November afternoon.
The New York Chocolate Show is a three day festival that is dedicated to all things chocolate. The show starts with a fashion show featuring models wearing the latest and greatest clothing made of chocolate. The clothes, along with other displays of chocolate art, are displayed on the showroom floor along with the booths of chocolatiers, bakeries, booksellers and other chocolate related items as they tempt you to buy their wares. What makes this show unique for others is that the general public is allowed to attend and are able to sample their way around the show just like the rest of us in the industry. There’s really nothing quite like it.
Here were my favorite discoveries on the showroom floor:
Amano: This company is incredible. It’s run by this one guy, Art Pollard, who goes down to Venezuela and buys the beans direct from the plantations a bag at a time. He then brings his swag back to his base in Utah and roasts, conchs and tempers the chocolates himself to make very select, simple bars of superior quality. I tasted his normal two, the Madagascar and the Ocumare, which both had wonderful smooth notes of citrus and red fruits. He then presented me with a new limited edition bar, the Cuyagua, which is the best of all three. I feel so lucky to have been presented with such a magnificent work of chocolate art.
Charles Chocolates: Chuck Spiegal is the genius behind this small chocolate company located in Berkeley, CA. I sampled all of his bars (the 41% milk chocolate with caramelized crisped rice is like a grown up Nestle Crunch! The bittersweet caramelized crisped rice chocolate bar was my favorite of the bunch) and some of the bonbons. His chocolates are outstanding. It’s hard to believe such amazing flavors exist. When you taste stuff like this, you know you’ve found quality! Chuck was so enthusiastic about all his products and you knew he was passionate about his work. A new favorite for sure.
Christopher Norman Chocolates: This chocolatier based in NYC is all about the art that goes into making chocolate. He wants his chocolates to taste and look like masterpieces, and I think he accomplishes both very well. His products are so stunningly beautiful you really feel bad eating them! Another thing that impressed me about these chocolates were the flavors. I sampled a watermelon bonbon that was just to die for. From what I was told all the flavors are unusual but never short of delicious.
Chuao Chocolatier: I was so happy to see Chuao at the show because they were my favorites from the All Candy Expo. Sadly, they didn’t have any new bonbons for me to try, but I did get to taste their Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate. It was perfectly balanced between the sweet chocolate and the spiciness of the chili and cinnamon and just a delight to drink. I also go to re-visit my favorites, the ChocoPods. Everything I loved about this company and their chocolates was reaffirmed here at the Chocolate Show.
Coppeneur: A German chocolatier who’s just bursting into the US chocolate scene. Thankfully they just opened a store on the Upper East Side here in New York so I can buy their products again. I didn’t know it at the time, but I spoke to one of the founders at the booth and he graciously showed me their extensive line of chocolates. I tasted some amazing caramelized cacao beans – I’ve never had anything like that before. I also tasted an incredible 72% single origin Ocumure, an 82% single origin from Ecuador, and a 100% bar which was so rich and flavorful. Needless to say I walked away from that booth very impressed.
Comptoir Du Cacao: An artisanal l French chocolate company specializing in single origin chocolate and pralines. This was Comptoir’s first time at the Chocolate Show in New York. Their current claim to fame is a prestigious First Place Award from the Paris Chocolate Show for their pralines. After sampling some, I can believe it!
Knipschildt Chocolatier: These guys have been getting a lot of press recently because they sell the world’s most expensive chocolate truffle. I sampled a tangerine chili dark chocolate bonbon that burned my mouth out.
Mary’s Chocolates: This chocolatier from Tokyo, Japan had a lot of impressive stuff to show and taste. By far they had the prettiest chocolates I’ve ever seen. I tried their green tea ganache (surprisingly, I wasn’t impressed with it), black sesame ganache, passion fruit ganache and their coffee caramel ganache (which was the best of the bunch). Their booth was mobbed all day.
New Tree: This Belgian Chocolate company is really passionate about combining unique flavors into their milk and dark chocolates. I have been familiar with their chocolates for some time now, and I was really excited to see they were introducing two new flavors at the show: “Crave”, which is an apricot milk chocolate and “Refresh”, a minty dark chocolate. They were kind enough to send me off with samples, so reviews are to come soon!
Peanut Butter & Co: Technically not a chocolate company, but I’ve been a fan of these guys for years and they had a booth there at the show. I tried samples of the new peanut butter cups they’re selling for the holiday season. Needless to say, they are nothing less than utterly delicious.
Theo Chocolates: I’ve known about Theo for a while now, but I hadn’t been able to taste any of their chocolate prior to the show. They were also so sweet and kind by telling me all about their products with such passion. Their 72% blend of Ecuador, Ghana and Ivory Coast chocolate bar was outstanding as well as the bars in their 3400 Phinney line with the Chai Milk Chocolate, the Coconut Curry and the Dark and Bread bars standing out the most. Heck, it all tasted amazing.
I had an absolute blast at the show and I highly recommend going if you get the chance. Even though it was so much fun to taste my way around, it was really more exciting to have the opportunity to talk to the chocolatiers and owners of the companies and to see how passionate they are about chocolate and the products they make. Knowing that the future of chocolate rests with these talented individuals makes the chocolate world an exciting place and makes me even more excited for next year’s show. I’m eager to see what new and exciting heights chocolate will reach.