Nearly 25,000 visitors made it to the Salon du Chocolat which took place over the past weekend at the Brussels Expo in the Belgian capital. The event, in its third anniversary brought together nearly 110 participants to showcase and honour Belgian chocolate craftsmanship in all its forms.
In addition to the exhibitors, there were also conferences, demonstrations as well as workshops providing opportunities to visitors to learn more about chocolate and also how to use it.
Among the Belgian brands taking part were the iconic Neuhaus, Godiva, Galler and Leonidas as well as the artisanal chocolatiers like Laurent Gerbaud, Joost Arijs, Jean-Philippe Darcis, Benoît Nihant, Didier Smeets and Herman Van Dender, who also shared their expertise and showed off their new creations.
Among the newcomers to look out for were Euphrasie Mbamba from Sigoji, Lexane Madessis from L’Arbre a Bilous and Tom Vanthemsche from The Cacao Tree.
The event kicked off on Thursday evening with the traditional chocolate fashion show. The duo of chocolatiers and designers that made the creations were the following:
- The Callebaut Chocolate Academy Chefs Alexandre Bourdeaux and Mathieu Dierinck and Julie de Bleser
- Contes de Fèves – Céline Bouzegza and Nathalie Stockman
- Didier Smeets
- Jean-Charles Rochoux and Masami d’Imaginers
- Joël Patouillard and Manon Bresson-Cancel, Paladines Events
- Jean-Philippe Darcis and Lauranne De Jaegher (2 outfits)
- Laurent Gerbaud and Patou Saint Germain
- Nadia Flecha Guazo – aka ChokoLate and Débora Velasquez
- Neuhaus and fashion designer Edouard Vermeulen from Maison Natan
- Pâtisserie Ducobu and Melissa Martin Ciudad (l’Atelier Lannaux)
- Valentino Chocolatier and Sixtine Anne de Molina
- Van Dender and iiiiCollectif
In addition, this year, the Salon focused on the Bean-To-Bar trend, a return to the source, authenticity and expertise, including a production line made by Callebaut explaining to visitors the process of transforming beans into chocolate.
On Friday 5 February, the results of the Belgian Chocolate Awards were announced. Many awards were won by Belgian chocolatiers including François Deremiens, Dominique Persoone and Jérôme Grimonpon.
In the Pastry Show area, among other big names in pastry and gastronomy, starred chefs Arabelle Meirlaen, Christophe Hardiquest, Eric Fernez and Sang-Hoon Degeimbre prepared recipes at the Salon, much to the delight of visitors to the Salon.
This year, the children attending were particularly numerous and excited. The budding chocolate confectioners had the opportunity to create mendiants and other delicacies. Guided tours of the Salon were also organised specially for them by Choco Story.
The City of Brussels arranged that all unsold chocolates would be offered to Social Security Services of the City of Brussels.