Festival of Chocolate comes to UCF Arena
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 4, 2012 18:05
Like a kid in a candy store, students could relive their childhood dreams this weekend as the UCF Arena was converted into a world of pure imagination -- the Festival of Chocolate.
From Friday to Sunday anyone with a sweet tooth could take advantage of the wide array of chocolate pastries, books and drinks, and even learn how to make some treats at home through demonstrations every hour by different chefs, designers and chocolatiers.
Renowned chefs from around Central Florida, including award-winning cake designer Mercedes
Strachwsky of Bake Me A Cake and Executive Pastry Chef David Ramirez of David Ramirez Chocolates, gave demonstrations on different aspects of chocolate tastes, recipes and designs at the largest chocolate festival in the southeast.
Sophomore biology major Ammna Ahmed took a break from finals to enjoy what the festival had to
“I really like the pastry chefs. It’s everything that I saw on TV and now I can actually visualize it, see it for myself and buy it if I want to,” Ahmed said.
The festival was kicked-off on Friday by a Cocoa Couture Fashion Show sponsored by the Aveda
Institute Orlando and the International Academy of Design and Technology from the Fashion Design and Merchandising program in Orlando and the Fashion Design program in Tampa. As part of this show, 16 out of 30 designers from IADT were chosen to create a dress made of chocolate wrappers to present down the Chocolate Yumway.
“It was one of our final projects…At first I was a little skeptical, but it worked out wonderfully. I was very challenged and impressed with the results,” IADT student Marivel Estevez said.
IADT designer Reanna Hardok won the Judge’s Choice ribbon for her stylish design using Reese’s wrappers and IADT designer Veronica Manzano won the Fan’s Choice ribbon with her M&M’s themed dress.
Many chocolatiers represented their pastry shops from around the Central Florida area including
Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Emma’s Sweets, David Ramirez Chocolates and Schakolad Chocolate Factory.
“It’s great to see so many people who love chocolate in one place. It’s like the Super Bowl for
chocoholics…it’s fun to be part of it,” Kevin Wray, owner of Peterbrooke Chocolatier, said.
“You share ideas and you share the passion. That’s what culinary is all about. At the end of the day, it’s still fun,” Ramirez said.
While most companies presented chocolatey creations, others decided to take the sweet treat in a
different direction. Z-Coffee presented a variety of mocha coffees and brownies, but also presented a new twist on an old favorite: dark chocolate espresso chili.
“I always remembered that the Mayans used to combine chocolate with spices. Chili was synonymous to me as spice… so I said ‘hey, chocolate would work with that.’ I like to add coffee to things and I like to add chocolate to things, so we tried it out,” said Z-Coffee owner David Kahan.
The sugary treat was not only offered as something to eat, but also to smell at this year’s festival. Spa Chocolate made its debut at the Festival of Chocolate this year with chocolate-scented massage oils, lotions, body washes and body clays to indulge the skin with chocolate.
“We have these really great products…it’s not a product that you can eat, but it’s great for your skin…we just knew that this was the place for us,” said Spa Chocolate representative Karen Proulx. “You really get to indulge your skin in chocolate at affordable prices.”
Additional events for guests to participate in included a chocolate and wine pairing session, a children’s chocolate workshop and museum, and cookie stacking competitions.
“The good thing about this Festival of Chocolate is that there are so many bad things around the world at this moment, that [the festival] brings a smile to everybody,” Strachwsky said.
Many people came together to put on this three-day festival, including event management major junior Laci Carnes who interned with the Festival of Chocolate and helped with the organization behind the scenes as the operations manager and public relations coordinator for the show.