If there is ever the need for an excuse to hop on Eurostar or a plane and head to Paris this could be the one for you!
Le Salon du Chocolat is an annual chocolate event which takes place at the Parc Expo in Porte des Versailles, Paris. It's full of international chocolatiers (both large scale and artisan), cocoa producers, top pastry chefs and chocolate. The show is a hub for chocolate companies from across the globe (South America, Africa, Caribbean, to name but a few) to all meet in one location which means a fantastic selection of chocolates to try and buy, but also importantly meet the vital souls creating the chocolate. With Covid restrictions last year this was my first visit for two years. Sadly many of the South American cohort hadn't made it over due to quarantine rules but there was still an amazing selection. But a few did thankfully.
And if you are a foodie fashionista the fashion show may be just up your street. Models strut their stuff on the catwalk wearing designs made from - yes you've guessed it - chocolate. If you want a good seat or viewing position you need to get to the catwalk in good time!
One of the most amazing chocolate bars I tried was from the award-winning Brazilian Casa Lesevicius. The end notes of the ones I tasted became more and more pronounced with so much character. Each cocoa grower has their illustration on the bar packaging. This is me with Joao who appeared to supply the majority of the cocoa. The most frustrating element was not having any euros in my bag and so unable to bring any back. A great excuse to hop to Brazil don't you think?! Oh and if you're planning a trip to Brazil promise to bring a bar or two back for me won't you?!
Have you met Bertil Akesson in your chocolate adventures? He is the founder of his multi award-winning chocolate brand Akesson's. Bertil is an incredible dynamo in the chocolate world and growns/sells Madagascan cacao beans, vanilla, pepper and has now diversified to other cacao producing countries. I bumped into him at the show, after many years, which was a real treat. I will be writing about Bertil and his story later on.
An inspirational husband and wife team, who I will write more about, are the founders of bean to bar Shouka. Their last chapter was owning a supermarket! They roast their beans and conjure up their chocolate in the amazing location of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. I know in all that fresh pure mountain air - what a dream location don't you think? Using cacao beans from Venezuela, the Philippines, Tanzania, Brazil, Cameroon and Ecuador they make chocolate bars, chocolate spreads, neapolitans, chocolate coated nuts and drinking chocolate. And here they are at Le Salon.
Beyond the chocolate, fashion shows and chef demos are also exhibitions showing incredible art all created by chocolatiers and chocolate. The brief was Christmas. These shows blew me away. Imagine having soles made from chocolate!
I would love to hear your stories if you have visited Le Salon du Chocolat or any other shows you have been to which fellow chocolate adventurers would like to know about.
Happy chocolate adventuring!