By John Chambless
Last year, the organizers of the Kennett Chocolate Lovers Festival found out they had a great idea on their hands. It turns out that a lot of people love chocolate, and 1,400 of them turned up to sample delicacies made by the region's top chefs to benefit the United Way of Southern Chester County.
This year, hopes are running high that the event on Feb. 9 will draw 2,000 or more people who are eager to satisfy their cravings for sweets. In anticipation of the crowd, the location has been moved to Kennett High School.
First of all, if you have a great recipe for a chocolate delicacy, enter now for judging in the festival. The deadline is Jan. 31, and you can register online at www.kennettchocolate.org. The contest is open to everyone – restaurant professionals, amateur chefs and and students ages 12 and older. They will win bragging rights and ribbons when their creations are judged.
Last year, nearly 200 entries were judged before the doors opened to the hungry public. Winners included Talula’s Table, The Gables in Chadds Ford, Renaissance Chocolates, and Catherine’s Restaurant, plus amateurs and students from throughout the Brandywine Valley.
Contestants compete in the categories of cakes, cookies, candies, brownies and cupcakes. There is no fee to enter. Chocolate donations are due on the morning of the event. After the judging, chocoholics of all ages are admitted for $5. For that fee, visitors can taste up to six decadent treats. If you have any more appetite, additional tastings are 50 cents each. All proceeds benefit United Way of Southern Chester County.
“Last year, all the top chefs in our area came through with fantastic recipes – there was chocolate as far as the eye could see,” said Carrie Freeman, the United Way CEO. “We had classic and novelty desserts, from Tea-infused Truffles and English Toffee to Flourless Chocolate Chipotle Cake and German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.
“Are you a great cook?” Freeman added. “Donate your best chocolate desserts and support this event!”
With chocolate fever building in the county, the Salon du Chocolat, a wine and chocolate evening, will kick off the celebration on Feb. 1 at the home of State Rep. Chris Ross and Cecilia Ross. The event will feature artisan chocolates made by local chocolatiers, craft beers from Victory Brewing, and local wines from Borderland Vineyard, Galer Estate, Grace Winery and Paradocx Vineyard.
Tickets are $75 per person ($125 per couple).
All proceeds from both events support United Way of Southern Chester County, which serves the residents of the Avon Grove, Kennett, Oxford, and Unionville-Chadds Ford school districts. More than 30 health and human service programs, and some 13,000 people, got support from the organization last year.
For information, visit www.kennettchocolate.org.