World through my eyes
From February 6th to 8th, Brussels will host the second edition of the Chocolate Fair in Hall 1 of Brussels Expo. Over three days, the Chocolate Fair will pay tribute to Belgian chocolate, highlighting tradition and innovation, and will reconfirm the roots of unique know-how which has conquered the entire planet. During the fair 150 participants, including 80 exhibitors, small craftsmen and industrial chocolate-makers, will come together under the same roof to create a unique experience of discovery and of gastronomic delight. This year, the show is also organising more educational and entertaining events – workshops, demonstrations, conferences, exhibitions – which will enable the public to better understand chocolate and appreciate the magical universe of chocolate and cocoa.
Last year, almost 30,000 chocolate lovers visited the show throughout three days at Tour & Taxis. From every corner of Belgium, visitors mostly came as families, but also with friends and were clearly very enthusiastic and delighted to be attending this first edition. The organisers have therefore been obliged to look higher and wider, and make the 2015 show more accessible by locating it in Hall 1 of Brussels Expo.
For the second consecutive year, Brussels will thus welcome this Chocolate Show, this time with a surface area of over 6,000 sq.m dedicated to chocolate in all its forms. This will provide exhibitors and visitors with more comfort, particularly in terms of ease of access and of parking facilities. Visitors, whether novices or confirmed enthusiasts, amateurs or professionals, will be able to find their favourite brands and craftsmen, exchange ideas with iconic figures from the profession, discover and taste new products and specialities.
The magic of the Salon du Chocolat is also all about the enchantment of its chocolate dresses. A wonderful mix of ancestral talents and know-how… It is with a great deal of passion that experienced designers and young fashion stylists will ally their sketches to the know-how of the great chocolate-makers. Their common creations, each trying to be more magical than the others, will be honoured during an unprecedented and festive show which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Salon du Chocolat. Every day from 11.00 am, the ‘Chocoland’ zone will be the place to be for children from 4 to 10 years old. Playful and recreational workshops will be on offer, with a very varied range of themes: from making mendiants to producing lollipops, through chocolate drawings, the budding chefs will have plenty of tasty things to do. In this zone, each child will plunge into a world made of chocolate and will become a culinary artist.
Belgium is currently the fifth largest chocolate-consuming country in the world, with an average of 8.3 kilos per person per year. While worldwide consumption has always been substantial, it is currently seeing an increase due to growing interest in chocolate from countries such as China and India. This sales explosion (20% per year) is persuading the major players, and in particular the Belgians, to innovate in order to target a demanding clientele.
Cocoa was first seen in Belgium as long ago as 1635! But at that time cocoa was only enjoyed as a luxury drink for the Royal Family and aristocrats. It was at the end of the 17th century that chocolate became all the rage with the rich of Brussels. Because very quickly, the know-how of the Belgian chocolate makers who controlled supply from the Spanish empire, began to develop. At that time, cocoa beans came into Belgium via Antwerp. This is where the beans were roasted and then ground in order to make a paste which was then exported. The Belgians were then considered to stand out for having developed a technique for refining cocoa beans which made the chocolate smoother while also adding extra taste to the product. Chocolate- making workshops began to become more numerous and some of them specialised in roasting and preparing products ready to use. The great diversity and multiple skills of the Belgian craftsmen ensured an exceptional quality of chocolate. This know-how was nurtured by high quality training and a qualified workforce. Since then, the Belgians have become ‘specialists’ and conquered the planet.
The first Salon du Chocolat was born in Paris 20 years ago. It all started with two passionate entrepreneurs who were in love with chocolate and each other, and a project that everyone considered a crazy idea: create an event dedicated entirely to an everyday foodstuff. But they had a strong desire and firm belief in the market and its professionals, both of which did not receive the exposure they deserved. Now, 20 years on, the show is a resounding success both in France and around the world, helping to promote knowledge of and expertise in chocolate, from the bean to the bar, from producing Progressively conquering the major cities in the world (New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing, Cairo, Salvador da Bahia, Lima, Seoul, Monaco, Beirut), as well as in Europe (Bologna, Zurich, Brussels, London, Cologne) and France (Marseille, Cannes, Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille, Nantes), the Salon du Chocolat now has around twenty events each year on four continents.