October is the month of chocolate, thanks to the invention of Chocolate Week (Kate Johns we are for ever in your debt). And this October we felt a distinct rise in the number of people visiting The Chocolate Show (Olympia London) who wanted to know more about the world of chocolate, and what artisan chocolate-making entails.
A quick look at a recent poll article from September (The Telegraph) shows just what this event is NOT about, with the "What is Britain's best chocolate bar?" selected list of 22 different candy bars completely lacking in any quality chocolate. Yet many years ago we would have delighted in joining in on this debate. Luckily we visited Chocolate Unwrapped in 2012 and a quick search of 'unwrapped' across the Your Source Today site will lead you to many of our features regarding our discovery of 'real' chocolate.
Our personal chocolate supply is now sourced from artisan chocolatiers such as Fifth Dimension Chocolates, Aneesh Popat - The Chocolatier, Lauden, OCTO, and Friis-Holm. Chocolate Week and The Chocolate Show have not only brought high quality chocolate in to our homes, it has also led us to question where the cacao comes from, and who is producing the chocolate along the way. For years Belgium chocolate was seen as a benchmark for the finest chocolate you could buy, but now we can go direct to smaller artisan producers and discover the facts behind their bars.
At The London Chocolate Show last weekend the buzz seemed to be a little louder than previous years, with many exhibitors being asked by visitors about their chocolate story; explaining their journey to where they are today. An adventure that now sees most of those exhibitors offering quality chocolate, which has been manufactured with as few 'lifestyle costs' as possible. This means from the tree to the bean, the bean to the bar, and the bar to the end truffle or chocolate creation, the people behind the industry, the grass-roots farmers, the traders and chocolate-makers have all earned a fair wage, wherever possible.
Through our Discover Cacao events in the Surrey area we have been bringing a selection of these same chocolatiers and chocolate-makers, who feature at The London Chocolate Show, out to the suburbs. For the last 4 years we have hosted the Oxted Chocolate Show in the small community hall, and people have come! Branching out last year, we took those same chocolatiers and chocolate-makers in to Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, pairing the Estate wines with chocolates from Rococo Chocolates, Fifth Dimension Chocolates and Aneesh Popat - The Chocolatier. In March 2018 we will return again, not only to bring quality chocolate to the residents of these Surrey areas but to educate and explain the difference between what is on offer at our events, and what is on the shelves in many supermarket aisles.
And as if in confirmation, a few weeks after the 'candy' poll was released, Andrew Baker made sure The Telegraph was on point with his October article explaining "Why artisan chocolate makers are thriving and the best bars to buy".
There is still a place in this world for the candy bars featured in Richard Jones's poll but we prefer to source our chocolate direct. Are we chocolate snobs? Yes, a little. But we still feel the need to occasionally dip our toes back in to the selection at the local garage because everything has its time and place. And sometimes we like to eat a little dirty!
See our photos from The London Chocolate Show at Your Source Today on Flickr