More than just the largest event dedicated to chocolate and cocoa in Belgium, the sixth edition of the Salon du Chocolat was also home to the first ever International Chocolate and Cocoa Forum for professionals in the industry.
Inaugurated by the Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexandre De Croo, this forum was a platform for a variety of themes including sustainable development, producer countries, bean-to-bar and design. The Belgian chocolate industry has once more come to the fore with the new “Beyond Chocolate” initiative, working towards fully sustainable chocolate by involving professionals from every stage in the process. And of course, the Salon du Chocolat was first and foremost a wonderful event for the visiting public. Despite the exceptional weather this weekend, almost 18,800 people turned up over the three days, eager to discover every aspect of the world of chocolate.
From cocoa-producing countries and new trends to top chefs and fabulous dresses made entirely from chocolate, there was enough to satisfy any chocolate craving! Over the three-day event, visitors met more than 130 participants over the 8,000sqm space and discovered the wonders of Belgian chocolate in all its forms. In addition to the exhibitors and their stands, there was a whole host of conferences, demonstrations,
workshops and master-classes of all types, giving visitors young and old the opportunity to learn all about chocolate.
Whether they were looking for the rarest bars or just to fill up on great chocolate, there was something for everyone! The press came in numbers, too. A whole raft of foreign TV channels broadcasted the Salon back to Spain, China, Turkey, Morocco and the United States. We also played host to international reporters, in particular from the biggest Indian papers. Officially opened on Thursday, 21 st of February by the Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close; the Deputy Burgomaster for Tourism and Culture, Delphine Houba; the Minister for the Budget and Finances, Guy Vanhengel and a whole host of Ambassadors – including, of course, a visit from the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Didier Reynders – the Salon du Chocolat was a spectacular success, and the cherry on the cake was, of course, the stunning chocolate fashion show! The Salon was also honoured to host the new Executive Director of the ICCO (International Cocoa Organisation), the Belgian Michel Arrion who has been in place since last October.
The dresses on display at this year’s chocolate fashion show were made by the following designer/chocolatier duos:
Belvas & Debora Velasquez
Carré Noir (Mélanie Lemmens) & Marie Lovenberg
Chocolaterie Valenza (Dave van Luyck) & Dirk Vervoort
Frederic Blondeel, voted “Chocolatier of the Year 2018” by Gault&Millau & Peruvian
designer Ricardo Davila
Institut Émile Gryzon (Bertrand Burion) & Gohar Gabrielyan
Jean-Luc Decluzeau & Angel Sewing
Laurent Gerbaud & Patou Saint Germain
Leonidas (Daniel Stallaert, Master Chocolatier)
Millésime Chocolat & Giovanni Biasiolo
Nadia Flecha Guazo (ChokoLate Designs)
Valentino Chocolatier & Sixtine Anne de Molina
Valrhona & Haute École Francisco Ferrer (Max Grogna)
Valrhona & Haute École Francisco Ferrer (Camila Banegas Espada)
Van Dender & Melissa Martin Ciudad
For the third year running, this gala evening opened its doors to the general public, with part of the ticket price sent to Télévie to help them fight cancer and leukaemia. More than 4,000 guests lined up at Tour & Taxis for the opening of this fun and delicious show.
Shining a spotlight on cocoa-producing countries
More cocoa-producing countries than ever were on show at the Salon du Chocolat, promoting and demonstrating their raw ingredients and finished products. This year, five countries were in the limelight, with big, beautiful stands to welcome their guests: Peru, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Madagascar and Cameroon.
Chocolate and friends!
Once again this year, Duvel was back at the Salon to put together two of Belgium’s most iconic products: beer and pralines (in partnership with Jitsk Chocolates). Másalto provided a series of master-classes pairing coffee and chocolate (with chocolatier Arnaud Champagne), Millésime paired up with rum and whisky from Etienne Bouillon. And we mustn’t forget the fantastic combinations of tea and chocolate, too. Some of Belgium’s most iconic brands such as Leonidas and Pralibel stunned visitors with their quality, and others such as Laurent Gerbaud, Benoît Nihant, Herman Van Dender, Frederic Blondeel and many more shared their skills and expertise, showing off their latest creations to the eager crowds.
The Salon was a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on young chocolate talent, in a space hosted by the City of Brussels. Eugène Chocolatier, Glacier Gaston, Mushu Cook, Succulente Pâtisserie Végétale, Vanessa Renard Finest Chocolate and Xocolate took the opportunity to get on stage and make a splash. Bean-to-bar was very much back in the spotlight this year with the Bean to Bar Village, which brought together a variety of chocolatiers and producers such as Arawi Cocoa Products, Bean to Bar (La BeanBox), Cédric De Taeye, Legast Artisan Chocolatier, Mi Joya, Millésime Chocolat and Munaskao. A selection of other producers were also more than willing to share their bean-to-bar creations, such as Benoît Nihant, Frederic Blondeel and Alice Voisin, to name but a few.
Of course, Callebaut was back with a huge, illuminated stand to show off their new RUBY chocolate. This was launched at last year’s show, and was used this time around by many of our chocolatiers.
In the Pastry Show space, there was a great line-up from the world of pastry and restaurants: Arnaud Champagne, Jean-Jacques Danthine, Yasushi Sasaki, Leila Ben Toumi, Jean-Philippe Darcis, Pierre Marcolini, Sofia Touhami, Christophe Hardiquest, Julien Lapraille and Jean-Philippe Watteyne came on stage to show off some of their greatest recipes. The Chocolissimo & Zaabär workshops were a tremendous success, too. Hordes of visitors signed up to make their own chocolate bars, and to participate in the workshops hosted by chocolatier Bohrane Messaci at the Madagascar Pavillion!
Younger chocoholics had their fill too, at the Chocoland space, where they could take part in special workshops in partnership with the Emile Gryzon-Ceria Institute.
In short, this sixth Salon was a worthy successor to all that came before it, and a fantastic precursor to those yet to come. “For François Jeantet and myself”, explained Sylvie Douce, “we created the Salon du Chocolate 25 years ago, and it’s always been so important to project this universal, essential image of chocolate around the world. Over the past 25 years, we’ve organised almost 300 shows on every continent to promote this magical elixir well into the 21st century. It was only natural that we’d host one of our key events in Belgium, the spiritual home of chocolate. And we’ve been lucky enough to have some of the greatest Belgian chocolatiers accompany us around the world, to Japan, China, the United States and beyond. We are so proud to have been a part of Belgian chocolate’s success around the world and right here, the European capital and true home of chocolate, Brussels.”