Thursday, January 17, 2013

Talking Chocolate in San Francisco

Last week I spelled out some memorable names in the San Francisco chocolate industry.  This weekend, I'll get to see the various people to whom those names are attached and also get a chance to do some hands-on research into other local names like Flying NoirSôcôla, and Casa de Chocolates.  At the beginning of every year, the entire food industry descends on the San Francisco Bay Area, turning this fertile crescent into a kind of foodie general assembly. If you're looking for me (or your local cacao grower, chocolate maker, or confectioner) in the next week, try one of these events:

Fancy Food Show: Wholesalers and buyers come together to make deals and keep the food economy going while journalists look on, sampling cheese, pickles, artisan balsamic vinegar, high-end packaged cakes and cake mixes, and anything else that qualifies as "fancy."  NewTree inevitably gets up to something during the show (this year, the once Europe-based company is securing its American roots by opening a new chocolate cafe in the Bay Area), Endangered Species Chocolate is promoting its new sustainable flavors, and Shawn Askinosie wins a Business Leadership Award.

Fine Chocolate Industry Association Meeting: Membership of this chocolate organization lingers in the low hundreds and I hear the conversations sometimes take on the overseriousness of an academic conference.  But chocolate is a smart topic and the meeting brings together members of the maverick, intellectually-minded, sustainably-oriented "fine chocolate" community (rather than the more hype-driven "luxury" or "gourmet" chocolate worlds).  Gail Ambrosius will speak and Martin Christy will hold a ceremony to personally congratulate winners of the International Chocolate Awards.

Good Food Awards: The categories are: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, pickles, preserves, and spirits.  And the winners are: Well, if you want to be the first to find out you have to shell out $95 for  a ticket to the awards gala tomorrow night.  Or you can join the crowds at the Good Food marketplace at the Ferry Building on Saturday, where AmanoMadre, the brand new Bar au ChocolateLillie Belle Farms, and Feve Artisan Chocolatier will be in attendance no matter who wins.

Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Conference: They've been going for twenty years and they'll be talking organics with Nell Newman, transforming cookbooks into apps, and testing their excellence in a competition judged by former Citizen Caker and new Brooklynite Elizabeth Falkner.


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