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Chocolate tiers warm Wellingtonian’s souls

Aug 16th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

SOUL SISTERS: Ann-Charlotte White offers Shaluka Mendis her favourite treat

By Jennifer Gilbert and Siena Yates

WITH six foot chocolate fountains and journeys around the country and across the globe, there’s no denying that for some people, chocolate is less of a one weekend treat and more of a way of life.

Some 3000 visitors streamed into the InterContinental Hotel for the New Zealand Chocolate Festival at the weekend, where about 30 stallholders provided sweet treats for the three-day event.

Looking tired but cheerful, exhibitors kept up a brisk trade in smiles and free samples, as visitors tried a little bit of everything.

Festival organisers had arranged a variety of attractions, such as chocolate-tasting sessions with French chef Rene Fellman, and fudge-making workshops with Grant and Chrissy Snelgar of New Zealand Fudge Farm.

Grant and wife Chrissy bought their business and a generations-old fudge recipe in 2005, and learnt that making fudge is not easy as it looks.

“The first six months were the hardest,” Grant says. “Fudge is very fickle. It’s very much about the process.”

The New Zealand Pastry Team spent an afternoon creating chocolate sculptures for a captive audience, who watched as chefs worked the chocolate into shapes like tall flowers and foliage.

Ann-Charlotte White works at Christchurch company SHE Chocolat, where she says staff members – who all live together – fill their days with chocolate.

All the way from Sweden, Ann-Charlotte’s interest in SHE (spiritual and human enlightenment) is what brought her to New Zealand, but chocolate is what keeps her here.

“I find my creativity through chocolate – that’s why I love to do it so much. It’s how ideas come through me, and manifest,” she says.

Among the many chocolate lovers at the festival, Shaluka Mendis (28) was one of the most avid.

Perhaps this is illustrated by the six foot chocolate fountain she had at her wedding, or that she took time off work to fly from Auckland for the weekend especially for the chocolate festival.

“The festival is awesome,” she says. “You can always go to a chocolate shop, but it’s just not the same. It’s like heaven for me.”

Organiser Frank Stoltenberg says the festival exceeded expectations, and hopes to hold another in the city next year.

“We would like to build on it,” he says.

“Every session sold out in the presales and we sold a few more at the door so we were delighted. Chocolate is an easy thing to sell, I guess.”

CHOCOLATE FANATIC: David Cadoret and Tim Beale with their finished chocolate models.

SWEET BIRD: Kim Cleaver from Devon Sweets with his chocolate swan.

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