A seriously addicted chocoholic friend sent me the link to the upcoming Ottawa Chocolate Show. She added a note about how she and a friend had already bought their tickets. Seeing that the show was still six weeks away, I thought I’d better have a closer look to find out what the excitement was all about.
The show is taking place September 28 at the allsaints event space and brings together vendors from across Canada. Many of the vendors are small producers focusing on bean-to-bar chocolate. In addition to the vendors, there will be 45-minute seminars/tastings/workshops starting at 10:30am.
Apt613 talked to organizer Joanne Mutter of JoJo Coco about what attendees can expect to see (and taste!) at the show.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Apt613: Where did the idea for the chocolate show come from?
Joanne Mutter: We have connections with a lot of these chocolate makers. DesBarres Chocolate, our partner in this venture, did a similar show in Toronto last February, and so we thought we would try it again, but here in Ottawa. A lot of the chocolate makers from across Canada who were in Toronto for the show are coming to this one as well.
Apt613: Are there other similar shows around Canada happening?
JM: Not that we know of. There are other chocolate-related shows. But to focus exclusively and primarily on bean-to-bar chocolate is very different than having people who bake with chocolate or make other products with chocolate.
Apt613: When I walk into your show, I assume there will be a lot of vendor tables. What else can I expect?
JM: The primary focus is for the vendors to be able to let you sample their chocolate to understand the different flavour qualities. And so of course they’ll also be selling chocolate. And then we have another room where we have a full agenda of speakers who will come in and talk about chocolate. So for instance, I’m going to sit down and interview Erica and Drew from Hummingbird Chocolate about their story. And we will also do a chocolate tasting in there. And then we have another gentleman from Chocosol who will talk about his specific bean and what he does. We’re filling the stage with 45-minute presentations on various chocolate topics.
To focus exclusively and primarily on bean-to-bar chocolate is very different than having people who bake with chocolate or make other products with chocolate.
Apt613: I haven’t been in the allsaints event space yet. Is it just one big area inside the historic church or is it separate rooms where you are exhibiting?
JM: It’s beautiful there. We’re in Borden Hall, which is the biggest space. And that will allow us to have 25 to 28 vendors. Then we have another room, which is called Bate Hall. That’s the smaller venue where we’ll do the presentations.
Apt613: This is the first year you’re doing this show? And are you hoping to make it an annual thing?
JM: Yes, the first and hopefully not the last. We’d love to make it an annual event. The response we’ve been getting is phenomenal. We’ve had so much Facebook chatter and lots of sharing. Our ticket sales are already exceeding our expectations.
Apt613: So is it just a stereotype that it’s primarily women who are really interested in chocolate? Or is that a real thing?
JM: No, it’s not just a stereotype. I would say the majority of my customers are women, but they’re often buying it as gifts. Chocolate has become a little bit of an alternative to bringing a bottle of wine to someone’s house. People have gotten away from the really big dessert, but you still like a little sweetness afterwards.