A chocolate fair: no other combination of words brings more satisfaction. And the Speciality Chocolate Fair, which took place last week at the Speciality and Fine Food Fair at Olympia lived up to all expectations.
As the UK’s only trade event for fine and artisan chocolate, the Speciality Chocolate Fair brought together a host of chocolate-related events including a live demonstration theatre with line-up of chocolatiers and pastry chefs.
Of particular interest was smoked chocolate, one of the most delightful delicacies on show. The Indian Chocolate stand offered Earth Loaf’s smoked salt and almond chocolate. This uses 72% dark chocolate with cacao husk smoked sea salt, palmyra sugar and North Indian almonds.
However, the main show covered a whole range of edibles and exhibitions. Demonstrations took place in the Fine Food Live kitchen focusing on practical advice and tips on the industry’s current trends from some of the most experienced chefs and personalities.
The Business Mentoring Centre was available throughout the show. It had SME experts on hand to offer free bespoke advice on any aspect of running a business. Attracting a lot of attention was the Small Producer Village, a dedicated area within Speciality and Fine Food Fair for brand new companies to the industry.
The Innovation Zone and pitching stage was a new section this year, presented by Grocery Accelerator. This was largest of its kind at a UK trade show and represented a one-stop location for exciting new products to be discovered.
Great Taste Awards
Then there were the Great Taste Awards where all top 50 finalists were showcased. The Great Taste Award overall winner was announced on the evening of the second night. Great Taste is the stamp of approval for great-tasting food and drink. It has been recognised as the UK’s largest and most trusted accreditation scheme for food producers.
The finalists included Delicioso UK, with pistachio nut oil, almond and walnut oil; Bramley and Gage with sweet vermouth, 6 o’clock gin and 6 o’clock damson gin; and coconut jam from Coconut Merchant.
Seminars included talks on a variety of interesting and topical subjects such as the future rise of fermented food, with their probiotic benefits. My personal favourite was entitled ‘chocolate and wine, making the best of both.’ Speaker, Jane Parkinson demonstrated wines that work brilliantly with different types of chocolate, dispelling the myth that chocolate can’t pair with wine. Tanya Maher answered questions on raw food, including what sweeteners are available to use in raw food uncooking and why eat dessert first.
As always the show was a huge success and was extremely well attended. Next year, the Speciality and Fine Food Fair runs from 3 to 5 September at Olympia so put it in the diary now!