Salon du Chocolat dans La Grande Pomme

| November 13, 2005 | 2 Comments
  • 2 Comments


Chocolate Fashion Show

Bonjour de Nouvelle York! Greetings from New York, the Big Apple, and the Chocolate Show. Yes, the Chocolate Show…again! Two weeks ago, four friends and I hopped the #12 metro toward Porte de Versailles, heading to the south west corner of Paris and the Paris Expo for an indulgence of chocolate the likes of which would make even Willy Wonka himself dizzy with excitement. Yesterday, I took the Uptown (2) (3) express to 14th Street to the Altman Building for the New York Chocolate Show and a continuation of my chocolate frenzy.

I was actually very interested in comparing the two events, to see if they were cookie cutter shows, no pun intended, or representative of the local culture. Both were a celebration to chocolate but in two very different environments and very contrasting styles. I found it dramatically disparate yet very symbolic and representative of our two societies. It was Paris vs. New York, Socialism vs. Capitalism, Product vs. Packaging, Catherine Deneuve vs. Paris Hilton all under the guise of chocolate.

The Paris show celebrated chocolate. Period. The product, the quality, the producer, the passion, and the joy that one derives from chocolate. Chocolate was everywhere. Mounds of chocolate cascaded across spacious, meticulous booths, hostesses circling the floor enticing us with trays of chocolate samples. Everywhere you turned, it was all about the chocolate. Walking into the Paris show was like jumping into a fuzzy robe on a rainy Sunday. Lush brown carpets, intoxicating aromas and dark brown and deep orange signs exuded a feeling of warmth and calm.

Like Penn Station at 6:00pm on a Friday night, the New York show was crowded, noisy, chaotic, cold. Stacks of boxes crowded the small, messy booths. Advertising, commercialism, packaging, SELL, SELL, SELL was the message that screamed from its core. Hardwood floors, cramped sloppy displays, narrow walkways, cranky people. The four people at the ticket counter must have had vinegar with their Wheaties that morning as the ones that "vhelped" me were ruder than anything I’ve ever encountered in France. Perhaps they trained by a United "customer service" representative. But I digress…

I actually had this exact discussion with the representative from Michel Cluizel, a French chocolatier just breaking into the US market. She wholeheartedly, sadly agreed. I switched on my chocolate radar and went in search of le vraiment chocolat—the real chocolate. Voila…


Samples from Pyramide Tropiques


Mary’s Green Tea Ganache — a mix of white chocolate, aromatic green tea and fresh cream, rolled in green tea powder.


Chocolate Mona Lisa


Wall of Hot Chocolate


A Chocolate Tribute to New Orleans


Anna Shea’s Chessboard Chocolates


Chocolate Books — including one from Berkeley transplant and Paris expat David Lebovitz

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About the Author ()

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world's most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse). After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin's PBS cooking show, "Fast Food, My Way", Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie. In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. "More Fast Food, My Way" should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall. Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!
  • Maureen In Oakland

    Laura,

    Lucky you…two chocolate shows in two weeks. Even with the sad fact of American comercialism thrown into the mix, the amount of chocolate you must have tasted, sounds like a dream.

    Ciao for now,
    Maureen in Oakland

  • cucina testa rossa

    hi maureen ~ it was pretty amazing! i’m off chocolate until christmas…..which is fortunately just around the corner :-)