On the Chocolate Trail

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Hunting for Chocolate: Fancy Food Show, NYC, 2016

Even before Mark and I got off the F train at the Hudson Yards Station heading to the Javits Center, we spotted folks bejewelled with their red and white Fancy Food Show tags.

Earlier in June when I had reviewed the list of chocolate vendors scheduled to be at the Show, I had felt a sense of panic. I wondered how I could possibly get to all of them, interspersed among the 2,670 exhibitors spread over the 840,000 square feet floor space. So I marked each chocolate vendor on my copy of the layout to maximize our time through the aisles. That kept us moving, admittedly grazing on cheese, crackers, antipasto, iced tea, gelato and more, yet pretty singularly focused on our chocolate trail. Knowing that there would be lots of chocolate samples, we came prepared with shopping bags that bulged by the end of each day. Even though we skipped the many offerings of caramel and salted chocolates, we are still, over one month later, nibbling on bon bons and minis. Fortunately, each day’s walking around Javits and then home from the show burnt off about 8 miles worth of calories.

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And, we found some choco-stories of diversity and unity. We met Mendy Schmerling, the CEO of Milk Boy Chocolate, a third generation chocolate making Orthodox family based in Brooklyn using a Swiss process. And a nearby vendor, Abdallah’s Candies, a fourth generation Lebanese family owned company from Minneapolis was founded in 1909.

We were intrigued by the chocolate businesses recently launching efforts to assist girls and women. Honduran born Maribel Lieberman’s Mariebelle Chocolate, located in Soho since 2001, now seeks to empower women in Honduras producing cacao. Katrina Markoff’s Vosges Haut-Chocolat supports V-Day’s global movement to stop violence against women and girls. It also invests in girls through its Wild Ophelia line to encourage, educate and propel American high school and college gifts who have entrepreneurial dreams in food.

The Fancy Food Show is booked in my calendar for 2017 so that we will be able to collect more stories and samples. By then we will probably be out of chocolate.

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