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If you love chocolate as much as I do, then Food Fête Chocolat — our first press event devoted exclusively to premium chocolate — was the place to be last Thursday, Nov. 10 in New York City.

Having produced 17 Food Fête events since 2005, this one ranks in my top three personal favorites in terms of overall excitement, energy and engagement between the food press and chocolate brands. Not only was it a fun event to produce, it was rewarding to see unfold, prompting media to comment about the chocolatiers’ passion for their craft (making it very educational), with some media telling me it was one of their best chocolate event experiences.  I also observed a lot of note-taking at this event.

Fourteen exhibitors and about 85 food journalists and bloggers came together to share their knowledge and learn about all things chocolate (modern and even historical), some of the challenges facing cacao growers and, of course, sample lots of amazing chocolate bars, truffles and bonbons from around the world.

There was also no shortage of unique flavor combinations, with Madison Chocolatiers West’s black garlic truffle generating a lot of buzz. Lindt’s Excellence Intense Cranberry bar also created a nice chocolate and fruit combination for the holidays, though it’s available year-round. For the professional chocolatier as well as home confections enthusiast, Truffly Made showed their latest silicone truffle molds, which make truffle production a lot easier. David Lurie Sun Cups, which makes a line of organic, gluten-free and nut-free chocolate candies, had virtually nothing left on their table by the close of the event.  Not a bad way to end the evening.

There was far too much to comment on individually, but it’s safe to say that nothing failed to deliver.

Our 2011 Food Fête Chocolat exhibitors included:

Amano Artisan Chocolate
American Heritage Chocolate, Distributed by the Historic Division of Mars, Inc.
Chuao Chocolatier
David Lurie Sun Cups
Divine Chocolate
Fine Chocolate Industry Association
Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
Gnosis Chocolate
Hotel Chocolat
KALLARI
Lindt
The Madison Chocolatiers West
Truffly Made, Inc.
Valrhona

An impressive roster of high-level food writers from top food and lifestyle media outlets were on hand, including All You, Bloomberg Businessweek, Brides, Dessert Professional, Epicurious.com, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Food Network, FoodNetwork.com, Food Network Magazine, Food & Wine Online, Grocery Headquarters, Health Magazine, Huffington Post, Martha Stewart Living, Men’s Health, O The Oprah Magazine, Prevention, TheNibble.com, Woman’s Day and Woman’s World, among others, plus an assortment of bloggers and freelance writers anxious to discover what’s new in chocolate.

As bloggers often do, some began sharing their experiences right away, which you can read below.  I’ll update this list as new posts and/or articles are published.

  • HeyDoYou.com (lots of great exhibitor photos in this post!)

Finally, here are some pics from the event (photos: Michael Harger, Jeff Davis)

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(UPDATED 3/30/11)

NOTE: Some early blog coverage has already been posted, and I’ll keep updating this list as I find event round-ups or coverage of specific products.

MyLifeOnandOffTheGuestList: http://bit.ly/dEhLNi
GlutenFreeMike.com: http://bit.ly/gVefqE
Gluten-Free Fun: http://bit.ly/gpxur6
HeyDoYou.com: http://heydoyou.com/food-fete
Refresh (Supermarket News blog) http://bit.ly/fDAt88
Kafi Drexel of NY1 News (via Facebook): http://on.fb.me/f74BNc
Brooklyn Allergy Mom: http://bit.ly/gAZWbJ

The first of our new health-focused Food Fête events took place last night in New York City, focusing exclusively on allergen-free foods.

Allergies and intolerances to foods that contain gluten, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy (and more) affect a growing number of Americans who are always on the lookout for foods they can safely eat. The idea behind this event was to bring together a collection of such products to help educate writers and bring attention to a food-related health issue that doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

Given the product niche, this Food Fête was more intimate than most of our events — showcasing products from 14 companies. Dominating the product offering were a variety of gluten-free baked goods including cookies, breads and snacks. Pasta Prima introduced two very delicious raviolis, the first gluten-free ravioli to hit the market.

A few companies, including Chobani Greek Yogurt and Lucini Italia, focused new attention on existing products that are naturally gluten-free, giving allergy-sensitive consumers options they might not have otherwise considered, given these products are not specifically marketed to people with Celiac disease.

The National Peanut Board, which at first glance might raise some eyebrows as to why they’d be included among a collection of allergen-free foods, delivered the message that while some experience peanut allergies, peanuts and products made from peanut flour are gluten-free and widely consumed by Celiacs.  Finally, General Mills was on hand not only to promote their line of gluten-free cereals and snack foods, they recently launched GlutenFreely.com to provide consumer education on living with Celiac disease.

Profiles of all the participating companies can be found at www.foodfetepress.wordpress.com.

More than 40 food writers and bloggers interested in this specific product category were treated to some totally new products from companies they had not heard of as well as those from several familiar brands.  Food blogger and author Sloane Miller (a.k.a. Allergic Girl) also signed complementary copies of her new book “Allergic Girl,” set to hit stores in a week or so.

I’d like to extend a huge thanks to the participating companies and all the writers who came out last night.

Next up for us is our “Healthy Foods for Kids” press event on April 28 in New York.

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