The Chocolate Festival returns to the Business Design Centre in Islington this Christmas – and founder Yael Rose explains how the seed of an idea has blossomed
Chocolate. Even saying the word is good. Rarely does something bring together people of all ages and backgrounds than a good bar of chocolate, and things are even better at Christmas time as we are expected to over indulge without feeling a hint of guilt. Could there be a better time for an event, The Chocolate Festival, dedicated to everyone’s favourite piece of confectionary?
The Chocolate Festival is six-years-old this year – young perhaps in number, but it has come some way since founder Yael Rose was first inspired to launch the event. ‘I have always loved chocolate,’ she explains to an approving interviewer. ‘I saw a programme on Channel 4, Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory, which covered the whole story of how chocolate is created from the bean. It opened my eyes as I learnt so much about chocolate and I caught the bug.’
Having experience of running events previously, Yael was determined to bring together the finest chocolatiers and show the public a journey with a difference. ‘As a society, we have developed hugely to care about food and people are more interested in provenience and quality. That’s always been a strong point to our event – we have always spoken about how chocolate is made, and the difference between quality chocolate and the cheap stuff.’
Keen to show this, Yael decided to launch a festival at the Southbank Centre during Easter 2009 – giving herself only nine weeks to get things off the ground. You wouldn’t have noticed any issues, however, as the first Chocolate Festival was a huge success and continued to wow visitors as the years went by. However, come 2014, and Yael wanted to move it to our very own Business Design Centre. ‘It’s a first class venue, so beautiful,’ Yael enthuses. ‘The demographic of the area works well too, but the main reason was we wanted to move the show indoors. I wanted to give the chocolatiers a more controlled environment. Chocolate is a very luxurious and indulgent thing – if you are outside and it is raining, people can’t stay long enough to buy it!’
The line-up from 12-14 December is a chocoholic’s dream. Book a place at the Truffle Making Workshops, led by a professional chocolatier; experience the Direct Cacao Zone, where you can buy from chocolate companies working directly with cacao farmers; soothe your senses at The Cocoa Spa featuring Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics ; feel better while you follow the Health Trail, where you can try delicious free-from and raw chocolate; and get set for Christmas with The Chocolate Festival’s very own market. ‘We are going to have a big Christmas tree entirely decorated in chocolate,’ Yael adds to the tantalising list. ‘There’s something magical about chocolate and it has that feel good factor.’
Once the dust has settled on The Chocolate Festival, don’t expect the excitement to stop there. ‘The industry is thriving,’ Yael says. ‘Since I started the festival in 2009 it has really grown. What I love about the industry in the UK is a lot of master chocolatiers are passionate about training up the next generation. The innovation and creativity, too, in the industry continues to blow me away.’ It’s safe to say that many more generations to come will be able to indulge in the wonderful world of chocolate.
The Chocolate Festival runs at the Business Design Centre from 12-14 December. For tickets and more information, visit festivalchocolate.co.uk
Resident readers can enjoy £1 off the tickets. Simply add the code ‘resident’ in the checkout