Toronto Chocolate Festival

The top 5 things to do at the Toronto Chocolate Festival

Truffles. White chocolate and avocado cheesecake. A chocolate spa hand treatment. Sweet dreams are made of this. When the Toronto Chocolate Festival kicks off this Saturday and runs for 23 decadent days until November 4, we Torontonians are invited to dream, discover and devour all things chocolate.

In its seventh year, founder and executive producer Joey Cee created the festival, because it was the only food group focus that was not being spotlighted in Toronto. "Over the years, we've had some great chocolaty fun," he says.

Cee, whose favourite type of chocolate includes 70% dark and milk chocolate, says that Toronto is a fairly young city internationally when it comes to chocolate consumption and production. "We have some great chocolatiers and chocolate stylists but lag behind as a vibrant chocolate community, which is what the festival is trying to change."

To tantalize my sweet tooth, Cee gives me a bite by bite preview of this year's festival. Here are five highlights.

Think Winterlicious and Summerlicious but even sweeter. During the festival, around 20 chocolatiers and pastry shops throughout the GTA will have once-a-year offers and samplings, including The Golden Apple Confectionery in Liberty Village, M. Thompson Chocolate and Patisserie La Cigogne. Coupons for offers, such as a free truffle with a $5 minimum purchase at Odile Chocolat can be downloaded on the festival website.

The Chocolate Ball Gala
Who needs glass slippers when you have chocolate? "The theme for this year's Chocolate Ball is Cocoa Cabaret and will feature the Toronto All Star Big Band and Sisters of Swing," says Cee. The Hall's rotunda will have a variety of chocolate and dessert stations as well as the popular savoury stations. "(The galas) are well known around the world, in particular for introducing chocolate-infused savoury food," says Cee. "Chefs Massimo Capra and Jonathan Gushue were two of the first famous chefs to launch this idea at the very first Chocolate Ball. Many other chocolate events around the world are now following our lead." Some intriguing examples have included chocolate-infused chicken wings and pork; chocolate pasta; chocolate hazelnut soup with goat cheese relish. Too risquĂŠ? Try the white chocolate and avocado cheesecake.

ChocElite: Murder Mystery Dinner
Here's a sweet way to die. "This year's dinner will be incorporated into the current show at Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre with a slight alteration, making it a Death By Chocolate murder mystery," says Cee. There'll be celebrities too. Although they have yet to be announced, past ChocElite guests have included comedian Colin Mochrie and actresses Debra McGrath and Camilla Scott.

Toronto Luxury Chocolate Show
"The Toronto Luxury Chocolate Show is a boutique-style show showcasing some of the best chocolatiers the GTA has to offer," says Cee. Guest can indulge in offerings and samples from vendors, attend chocolate-making demo sessions, learn about the double threat of wine and chocolate pairings, or get high in a chocolate eating contest. Want a chocolate hand treatment? Check out the Chocolate Spa. A new education component - A Taste of Chocolate History: From Mayan to Modern - traces the history of the world's top chocolate makers, including Lindt and Hershey's. "You can sample products starting with the Mayan way of making chocolate," says Cee.

Chocolate Bowl 9-1-1 Relay
Police officers, parademics or firefighters compete in all-out chocolate warfare. "The 9-1-1 Chocolate Relay is a lot of fun and messy," says Cee. "Teams of 5 compete in a relay with ten different things they have to devour, like a Häagen-Dazs, a cheesecake you eat with hands behind your back, or chocolate balls you eat with chopsticks." The Relay is part of the aforementioned Chocolate Show and is included with show admission. Last year's Chocolate Bowl went to the firefighters. Will they turn up the heat once again? "They all do a great job and come to the tables with great enthusiasm," Cee says diplomatically.

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