By Lindsay Eckert
Tribune staff writer
The savory taste of chocolate took on its own personality at 11th Annual Chocolate Celebration presented by J. Edwards Fine Chocolates as 21 vendors sold sweetness with style for Samaritan Caregivers.
“All the booths have their own theme. It’s all about chocolate here, though,” said Sherry Otto, a volunteer for Samaritan Caregivers. “The kind of chocolate has really gotten more creative [during the years]. It used to be a plain brownie, now it’s peanut butter fudge brownies and warm Snicker’s brownies. Part of the fun is the over-the-top desserts.”
Dean Despinoy, Chocolate Celebration event chair, said the annual the event, held at First Church of the Nazarene, is destination for everything decadent.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into it. People are buzzing around and then it all goes so quickly,” Despinoy said about his delicious duties. “I’d have to describe it as a flaming dessert like Chocolate Flan. You have all this preparation then, poof, it’s gone.”
And the “poof” spread through the pastries in seconds as fans of anything candy-coated swapped their tickets for something sweet. The crowd and the candy was wrapped up — almost as quickly as chocolate was unwrapped by anxious tasters — within just a couple hours, leaving fans of food satisfied with just a bit of a sugar coma.
While event-goers slept off their sugary finds, Kristen Kinney, a baker at J. Edwards Fine Chocolates, said the sweetest part of her job is baking what people think they could only dream of.
“My favorite part of being a baker is creating new things and making customers’ ideas and fantasies come to life in dessert,” Kinney said as the chocolate store’s featured product, Stupid Cupid, towered next to her. “It’s a waffle cone upside down on chocolate and sprinkles to look like Cupid was being stupid and dropped his ice cream cone.”
Although you don’t have to specialize in sugar to be part of the Chocolate Celebration, businesses such as Ameriprise Financial, Hairz to You and Kokomo Area Career Center took on the personality of a chocolate shop for a day.
“It’s our chance to think outside the box of financial planning,” Tammy Kelly, office manager at Ameriprise Financial in Kokomo, said as she manned the hot cocoa bar with tons of toppings. “We like to work with our Kokomo community and help out Samaritan Caregivers. Plus, it’s really cold out and we want to keep people warm.”
Kelly said the chocolate may be the star of the show, but Samaritan Caregivers — a United Way agency that helps serve the elderly in Kokomo — is the star of their hearts.
“If Samaritan Caregivers was a hot cocoa topping, they’d have to be the sprinkles,” Kelly said. “There are all different people with all different backgrounds who help [at Good Samaritans] and everyone is sweet.”
And there was definitely no shortage on sweetness at the annual occasion, as 3-year-old Ryleigh Ingle struggled to narrow down her sugary selections.
“I want that, that, and I want that and that,” Ingle said as her tiny fingers pointed to chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry-topped cupcakes and chocolate parfaits. “I want the chocolate lips too, because I like kisses.”
Whether it’s chocolate bars, brownies or bundt cake the 11th Annual Chocolate Celebration was sealed with a chocolaty kiss of success.