Tons of Chocolate Under One Roof at West Loop Fest

It seems like there are more food festivals than ever. Not just the biggies, in places like Aspen, South Beach and Pebble Beach, but also regional events that bring together local artisans. Chocolate, however, transcends frequency and inclement weather. In three weeks, chocolatiers from as far as California and Maine are going to be bringing their homemade sweets to the Chicago Artisan Chocolate Festival in the West Loop. Organized by the Fine Artisan Events group, which also hosts an antique art show in New York, the festival brings truffles, brittle, macarons, sundae sauces, vegan chocolate, and even edible candles together for a two-day showcase.

Chocolates from Mon Âme Chocolat in Chicago

Mon Âme Chocolat

Chocolate sauces from GrownUp KidStuff in Chicago

GrownUp KidStuff chocolate and caramel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicagoans might recognize a few names — Alliance Patisserie, Katherine Anne Confections, and Amy’s Candy Bar – but the joy here is in discovering new favorites for a future party favor or sweet tooth caterer. Mayana pulls inspiration from globe-trotting, Sulpice brings designers into the mix, and K’ul combines a “farm to bar” approach to both straight chocolate and chocolate-laced energy bars.

The breadth of styles here “exemplifies the variety and the ever widening field of dedicated artisans,” says Festival Producer Marty Ellis, who carefully vets each exhibitor for quality and small-batch dedication.

Toffee and brittle from Chocolate Inspirations in Roselle, IL

Toffee and brittle from Chocolate Inspirations

For the vendors, a festival so specific to their craft brings them closer to their customers and to their competition – in camaraderie, of course.

Colorful macarons at Alliance Patisserie on historic State Street in Chicago

Colorful macarons at Alliance Patisserie on historic State Street

“The show is a great opportunity for the small artisan chocolatiers to share their passion and enthusiasm for what they do with the public,” says Pam Vieau, founder of decades-old Chocolate Inspirations based out of Roselle. “Often we get to meet many of our customers face to face for the first time, and introduce our products to new customers.  It is also great to be able to exchange ideas with the other artisan exhibitors.”

Vieau’s tea-flaked chocolate bars and addictive cinnamon toast toffee will nestle up to the salted caramel honey bites from Mon Âme Chocolat and the unusual flavors of truffles from Alliance’s new State Street café. The exhibitor list also features wine, tea, olive oil, and ice cream from Ruth & Phil’s in Ukrainian Village.

Advance tickets for either Saturday or Sunday are $35 for one or $62 for two (plus a service charge); tickets can be purchased at the door for $55, with $20 ($10 for pre-sale) of those proceeds going straight to the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

 

The Chicago Artisan Chocolate Festival
April 16, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
April 17, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Plumber’s Hall
1340 W. Washington Blvd.
Tickets: $35-62 advance, $55 door

 

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