As I waited for my ‘far too early to be good for me’ train I glanced upon Facebook. It does that fantastic thing of showing you all the pointless comments you made on that day in history. It also shows you the places you’ve tagged yourself into and the photos you’ve shared. Five years ago I was at the previous incarnation of this show: Chocolate Unwrapped, and it is fantastic to see how the British, and world chocolate industry has changed in just half a decade.
Those old shows were great, naive perhaps in the light of what what we were going to create, but certainly just offered a glimpse of what was to come. A few months before that event Duffy had started the production and retail of ‘bean to bar’ chocolate – perhaps percipitating the current craze. We had Willie’s Chocolate before that, but he was too early to really get people’s juices flowing. At that event we also had the likes of Thorntons and some very small chocolatiers such as Matcha Chocolate – both of whom show the fragility of the industry and why we as consumers need to offer the current crop of artisans our fullest support.
This weekend’s Chocolate Show is an event beyond comparison to the small, close-knit affair of five years ago. The exhibitor list is astounding. From award-winners such as Akesson’s to large-scale, but still magnificent foreign makers such as Valrhona and Venchi. But the reason I got up at 6am and left my wife and kids asleep was for the new crop of makers. The Damsons, the Seaforths and companies such as Omnom, Friis Holm, Dormouse and Naive that it would cost me a fortune to visit in their native countries. Also, I can make contact with friends in other chocolate companies that it always great to catch-up with – chocolate seemingly brings people like no-other product.
Those first events I visited were an eye-opening experience. Not only could you gorge yourself on fine chocolates but you could actually get to understand how chocolate is made. The greatest learnings I’ve had about chocolate came from talking to people at these sorts of events. Not only do people want to promote their products, but also explain how they make them.
So as I travel down on the train, wishing I had more sleep, the anticipatory buzz of the event to come is palpable. Just get me there now.
If you’d like to visit the event you can book tickets for the weekend here.