a taste of the Los Angeles Chocolate Salon

The exciting thing I am discovering after researching fine chocolate in earnest for the past 4 1/2 years is that there are chocolate events being held around the world, and you can find one in some part of the world at pretty much any given time. As we’d been in northern California to meet chocolate makers in San Francisco and explore the world of wine and chocolate in California wine country (see recent posts for more on this) last September/early October, it seemed a no-brainer to stick around for the Los Angeles Chocolate Salon, a chocolate event put on the folks at TasteTV.

art-in-Pasadena

The bronze sculptures of Jackie & Mack Robinson in Pasadena’s Centennial Square are really striking.

Although it was called the LA Chocolate Salon, the event was actually held in Pasadena, California, a city of just over 137,000 residents located in Los Angeles County, 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. I really like Pasadena. The scenery reminds me of Palm Springs, and because of its smaller size, traffic is manageable, you feel safe to meander the streets, and pretty much everything we needed or were interested in was of close proximity to the Pasadena Conference Center (the event venue) and the Sheraton Pasadena Hotel where we were staying.

sheraton-pasadena

Had the Chocolate Salon been held in this bright and beautiful ballroom at the Sheraton Pasadena, the ambiance would have been greatly improved.

Having been to much larger chocolate events like the Salon du Chocolat in Paris which now has as many as 550 participating chocolate-related exhibitors, I was a bit disappointed in the ultra-small size of the LA Chocolate Salon with only approximately 35 participants.  And the stark lower-level windowless room in which the Pasadena event was held did not add to the ambiance. But for the most part, the chocolate we tasted was excellent. Even more concerning than the lack of character in the event’s venue was the fact that because there was a limited number of vendors, there were lineups at each and every chocolate stall we wanted to visit. We spent as much time waiting in line, as we did actually talking to the chocolatiers and  sampling their chocolate. Kind of takes the pleasure out of what should be an extremely pleasurable event.

chocolate-salon

This photo shows the crowded and disorganized layout of the LA Chocolate Salon.

Here are a few of the chocolatiers I met that impressed me. Let me start with Joe Terpoghossian, owner of Mignon Chocolate, with shops in Glendale and Pasadena. Mignon has some really creative flavour blends such as Tequila Ganache, Ginger with Sea Salt, and Saffron Marzipan that will make your taste buds sing. As well, the Mignon bars are visually appealing and the fresh flavours of the Mixed Berries bar make eating a chocolate bar a lot more fun!

mignon-chocolate

Mignon Chocolates look and taste terrific.

I also enjoyed speaking to chocolatier Michelle Crochet of DROGA Chocolates of Los Angeles. Michelle has a really cool concept with her City Caramel Collection in which she’s accented caramel with flavours that remind her of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. I loved them! Check out DROGA’s website as the hi-res visuals will have your mouth watering in a matter of seconds.

droga-chocolates

Michelle Crochet of DROGA Chocolates has created a unique line of chocolate bars.

Mark Lewis of Marco Paolo Chocolates based in Van Nuys, California is a super talented chocolatier whose speciality is the double-layered chocolate truffle. Lewis is a true artisan, and handpaints each of his beautiful chocolates. You’ll find chocolate tasting tips and other interesting info on the Marco Paolo’s website.

marco-paolo-chocolates

Marco Paolo Chocolatier Mark Lewis creates tantalizing flavours such as Coconut Cilantro with Lime and Roasted Pineapple with Burnt Caramel.

I could go on. There really were some amazing chocolatiers and chocolate makers at this show. Until I began searching my notes, photos, and memory banks, I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed them. There were also some interesting speakers at the show, which all in all, did make it worthwhile as a chocolate travel expedition.

Have you been to Pasadena or the Los Angeles Chocolate Salon? If so please share some of your highlights with us. 

And please join us back here the week of January 27th for our next new post.

Share

32 Comments

  1. First of all I LOVE Pasadena. So having a chocolate show and being able to attend, would be heaven. I so wish I could have gone with you but alas it wasn’t to be. :-)
    Susan Cooper recently posted..Homemade Yogurt: RecipeMy Profile

  2. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Thanks, Susan. How fortunate we were to have done so much on this trip. Thx for helping make our trip to CA a fantastically scrumptious one. And heck. You live in CA. There are numerous chocolate salons you can attend. Check one of them out and let me know how it goes! :-)

  3. Presentation is everything. The Chocolates certainly are presented beautifully, but they need to be presented in a beautiful setting, as well.

    So much depends upon the organizers’ abilities to create the ambiance. Struggling artisans perhaps don’t have the funding to throw a big wedding-type bash such as the typical “bride’s parents” kind of people could manage for ballroom.
    Phoenix recently posted..Living HealedMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Esther and thanks for your comment. Yes, ambiance and presentation definitely work to enhance taste and the overall experience.

      The LA Chocolate Salon wasn’t put on by the artisans themselves. It was put on by Taste TV, a company that does a series of chocolate and foodie events in California. And you can bet that the artisans paid a significant amount for their tiny spaces at the Pasadena Conference Center. But it is my opinion that the space that was utilized for the show did not enhance the experience, and I’ll bet that the much more attractive hotel space was not significantly more in price. Although … it was booked for a wedding. C’est la vie!

  4. Doreen, I really learn a lot about chocolate from you. Before we got to know each other online I honestly had no idea so many chocolate events took place around the world.

    Am amazed, but not surprised, at the creativity of chocolatiers. Must be a wonderful profession to work with what they love and innovate chocolates that stand out from the crowd, one way or another.
    Catarina recently posted..Get the energy to succeed!My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thank you SO much, Catarina. That is precisely the goal of Chocolatour: to educate, entertain, and entice people about the world of fine chocolate.

  5. Although the venue appears to have been a disappointment I am glad you found some wonderful chocolatiers. I still think you have a great job! :)
    Cheryl recently posted..Herb Drying Tips Via Susun WeedMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks, Cheryl! I really do love what I do and feel most fortunate to be able to share the world of chocolate with people – virtually, or in person!

  6. Looking out at a blizzard, I’m happy to read about LA and Pasedena. I’d love to go there sometime. My goal, as you know, is to go to see the Tournament of Roses Parade live at New Year’s in either 2015 or 2016. I’m pretty sure it’s in Pasadena. When I’m going, I’ll be sure to check out some of these chocolatiers.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Right on, Christine! Yes, the Tournament of Roses is in Pasadena. I hope you’ll get there to see it. I will be writing a story about Pasadena for Travel and Escape shortly, and will have more on Pasadena there. Cheers!

  7. Love Pasadena and love chocolate! As an ex-hotelier, I am shocked they put you in the basement and did not have an intimate, warm ambiance for the event. I’m also really surprised that only 35 vendors showed up. Makes me wonder, as a social media gal, how they promoted the event. But, the vendors you highlighted all sound delicious! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
    Laurie Hurley recently posted..Warning: Your Squeeze Pages Are Suffocating Your Audience (And A Neat Solution)My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Absolutely, Laurie. To me, ambiance is almost as important as the event itself. Just like with chocolate. The wrapping/packaging really has an effect on how it will taste to me. I am thinking that the folks at Taste TV are not the best organizers. If anyone has attended any other of their events and found it to be WELL organized, I’d love to hear about it!
      Doreen recently posted..a taste of the Los Angeles Chocolate SalonMy Profile

  8. Looks like a fabulous event, even though the venue might not have been ideal. I imagine that in one way it was easier having fewer folks displaying. That way you could spend more time with each.
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted..WHERES THE JUSTICE… Big Government?My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      No, Jacquie. As I said in the post, each vendor had long lineups we had to wait in. That left no time for chatter with the vendor as they were so busy. There were certainly enough chocolate loving people there. It was just a poor venue and setup.
      Doreen recently posted..a taste of the Los Angeles Chocolate SalonMy Profile

  9. Excuse the error Doreen. My coffee hadn’t kicked in at 5AM. Must have skimmed over that important fact. Appreciate you calling it out. I’ll be more careful in the future

  10. Wow! amazing pictures and mouth watering chocolates. So much to know about the world of chocolate!!
    Bindhurani recently posted..Dental Assisting: 10 tips to be an effective DentalAssistantMy Profile

  11. Jeri
    Twitter:

    A venue really can make or break an event. Still, even with only 35 vendors showing up it still sounded like it was well worth it to attend. I’m wondering what chocolate events Idaho has…
    Jeri recently posted..User Survey for What do I know?My Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Jeri: To date, I have not uncovered any chocolate events in Idaho. That’s not to say there aren’t any. But if there are, they are likely small localized food events that may feature a small amount of chocolate. If you find out something different, do let me know!
      Doreen recently posted..a taste of the Los Angeles Chocolate SalonMy Profile

  12. I’ve always wondered what Pasadena is like after watching 6 Feet Under!. Too bad the venue was so poor, but my goodness the chocolates that you describe all sound amazing. -It’s a tough job Doreen… Ginger and sea salt…Mmmm.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted..Author in Focus: Ernest Hemingway and the Iceberg EffectMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi A.K.: Thx for dropping into the blog! The Pasadena Conference Center is actually a nice venue. But the lower level where the Chocolate Salon was held is less than desirable. No ambiance to that space. But the main and upper floor has lots of natural light. Yes, do check out the Mignon Chocolates. They’re lovely and affordable. They’ll have a new website up by the end of the month that will include all their new flavours. Check it out!

  13. It’s a shame about the venue. Venue choice can make or break an event, then there is the added impact on next year’s salon as people recall the line-ups.

    I have to admit, I think about travel in a different way now that you have introduced the idea of chocolate to the process. Cheryl is right, you have the best job!
    Debra Yearwood recently posted..E-MAIL Versus CommunicationsMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Thanks, Debra. That means I have achieved my goal. the goal of Chocolatour is to educate, entertain, and entice people into exploring the world of chocolate – whether that be encouraging them to engage in chocolate-inspired travel, or simply to expand their knowledge of and interest in fine artisanal chocolate. Think chocolate travel, and I want to be what comes to mind!

  14. Sounds like it was a cozy event with lots of wonderful chocolate, learning, and networking. I believe chocolate also boosts endorphins so I would imagine folks are rather cheerful at these events. I’ve never been to Pasadena but I love all of California that I have visited. As far as chocolate is concerned, I absolutely adore dark, bittersweet chocolate, the darker the better.
    Michele Harvey Author recently posted..What Do You Do When the Bottom Drops Out? by Michele HarveyMy Profile

  15. Doreen
    Twitter:

    Hi Michele and welcome to the blog.

    Unfortunately, the LA Chocolate Salon in Pasadena was far from cozy. Lineups generally don’t put people in a good mood, although the delicious chocolate definitely did counteract that, as you are the right. The endorphins make everything better!

    As a chocolate lover, I’m so glad you found my blog. Lots of tasty posts to enjoy.

  16. OB

    WOW! Chocolate heaven – I just discovered your blog via Clotilde Dusoulier’s article on up and coming American chocolatiers. I must admit, I am envious. Here in Dubai, the choice of quality bean to bar chocolate is limited and to be able to visit all these stores and fairs would be a real treat. I am obsessed with the stuff, but I feel that I am one of few here that appreciates it – we have sadly had several brands make it to the shelves at certain gourmet groceries only to see them eventually disappear.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hello OB, and thanks for finding my blog.

      Actually, there are a number of high-end European chocolatiers like Sprungli and Jean Galler who sell their chocolates in the UAE. I’m quite sure both of those have shops in Dubai. Check their websites for details. And I invite you to visit http://chocolatour.net/about where you’ll learn more about my book. Dubai will be covered in the 3rd volume of Chocolatour. Al Nassma of Dubai makes some excellent camel’s milk chocolate and is listed in the A-Z Guide in Volume I of Chocolatour.

  17. What a shame for both you and the chocolatiers that the event lacked of character and there were limited vendors. I truly despise lineups and would have probably walked.
    Becc recently posted..You Don’t Have to Kill or Remove Your Hyperthyroid to Improve Your HealthMy Profile

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Becc: Well, I’d come a long way to attend the event, so I wouldn’t just walk away. And I did meet some fabulous chocolatiers and taste the wares of others. So it was worthwhile. It just would have been SO much better, had it been in a different venue, or been better organized.

  18. I’m surprised there were so few vendors at this event. Have you ever found you’ve been kept awake or had bad dreams by consuming too much chocolate. I’d love to read a post on that.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:

      Hi Jody! Thx for your comment, and welcome to the blog!

      Pure dark chocolate actually has a small amount of caffeine compared to coffee. Did you know that there’s a Canadian bar called “Awake” that actually infuses its chocolate bars WITH caffeine to help students and others stay awake for times when they have to!

      I generally don’t eat my chocolate in quantities, I’m going more for quality. So I haven’t had the problem with it keeping me up at night. But then, I generally don’t eat it late at night. I prefer mine during a day-time tea break, or in the early evening with a glass of red wine (which affects my sleep far worse than chocolate.) Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted..is winter fun?My Profile

  19. Judy Charlotte

    Wow. Those chocolates look so good.

Leave Your Comment

Your email will not be published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge