Jeff Stern

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May 19-22 Salon de Chocolate Ecuador at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Ecuador

user image 2011-05-17
By: Jeff Stern
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Just got the schedule for the Salon de Chocolate, which is held now for the third year and sponsored by the Franco-Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce. I was invited to participate as I was last year, but had to decline since we are too busy. Also, just was not convinced that spending a couple of hundred dollars (since it's not really an invitation but a paid chance to participate), with a "successful" turnout of maybe 700 people, would be good for business. Unfortunately, there's just not that much local interest in chocolate here and while the networking opportunities might be good, well, they're not that good.

I did see that Martin Christy will be giving a tasting, and a few other names in the cocoa (but not really chocolate) industry will be presenting. So it's more of a mix of some academic type presentations and I don't know what else. I'll try and make a stab at running over there but I can't promise. I'm also not a big fan of one of the presenters chocolates, and not a big believer in another. As well, last year there was another large Chocolate Expo in Guayaquil, and from my contacts in the industry it was not too much of a success. So I'll continue to just keep my head down for now and keep doing what I'm doing.

As I've alluded to but not made exceptionally clear in my comments and few postings here, one of the issues with local chocolate production here that only slightly irks me is the fact that there is one company who produces chocolate for a large number of brands coming out of here. I have no issue with the company that produces; they are good people and just acting as a contract manufacturer. None of these brands have a lot of recognition worldwide, and some have more recognition than others. But the bottom line is, almost all of them are produced in the same factory, with no transparency being provided by the companies that own the brands as to what kind of beans they are using or any of the other interesting stuff that interests serious chocolatiers. I'm not sure either if the company producing all this chocolate even does anything special for any of these different brands; they could all be sourced from virtually any type of bean, with the exception of those with FT and/or organic labels. Other than that, there may be no real distinction among the chocolate with the exception of the wrapper that labels it!