Chocolatour at chocolate events

November has been a busy month for Chocolatour!

This pic was taken by Jessica of JAG Photography and shows us judging the Single Origin Chocolate of Costa Rica.
This pic was taken by Jessica of JAG Photography and shows us judging the Single Origin Chocolate of Costa Rica.

At the end of October, I was a judge at the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival in Costa Rica. I stayed on for a few days into early November, meeting chocolate makers and investigating chocolate for the second volume of Chocolatour. You can find copies of volume I at Caribeans, profiled in this post.

After a brief rest at home, I headed to Kingston, Ontario, where I gave a presentation about the world of fine chocolate at an event sponsored by the Writers Union of Canada Reading Program (made possible via a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. )

In Kingston at Sugar Swan Sweet Shop.
In Kingston at Sugar Swan Sweet Shop.

You’ll learn more about Ridgway Confections and Sugar Swan (where copies of Chocolatour are on sale) in future posts on my chocolate travel blog, but do drop in and meet Ken and Tanya is you’re looking for some terrific chocolate or candy.

Doreen at Readers' Favorite

And from there, I headed straight to Miami, Florida, where Chocolatour was awarded a bronze medal in the 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. Such an exciting moment!

On November 29th, author Arthur Slade and I hosted a crowdfunding workshop at the Winnipeg Millennium Library organized by the Professional Writers Association of Canada and funded by the Winnipeg Public Library.

Arthur Slade and I conducted crowdfunding campaigns at the same time on Indiegogo.
Arthur Slade and I conducted crowdfunding campaigns at the same time on Indiegogo.

My next event is on December 4th at the Gaynor Regional Library in Selkirk, Manitoba, where I’ll be giving a chocolate talk at 7 pm. Please join us if you can. I’ll have copies of Chocolatour on hand to help with your Christmas shopping. If you can’t make it, you can order the book here. (Discounts are available for multiple copies.)

If you have a chocolate event you’d like to have me at, drop me a line! My goal is to attend every chocolate event that promotes artisan chocolate,  and to experience the world of fine chocolate  in virtually every part of the world. With your help and support … I’ll get there!

another evening of chocolate enjoyment

September 20, 2014 was the fourth sold-out dinner of “Chocolate Exploration” held in the Community Classroom of McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg.

McNally Robinson

McNally Robinson is a favourite location of readers and writers alike, and I was privileged to also have a special signing of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate at which I could affix a “Readers’ Favorite Award Winner” sticker to each book as I signed them.  Such an honour!

book signing
















Chef Karen Nielsen and the culinary team once again outdid themselves for our chocolate and cocoa-inspired menu. The starter consisted of a delicious salad described as “Orange and onion salad with feta cheese , candied pecans and dark chocolate balsamic dressing.” It was great, but I would have loved more of the delicious candied pecans on it.









The main course was “Chocolate and coffee crusted New York steak with milk chocolate, cognac peppercorn cream sauce.” The meat was tender enough to cut with a fork, and the chocolate sauce really enhanced the richness of the meat.







And the dessert was a “Triple Chocolate Crème Brûlée” served with a pecan brittle. What an absolutely decadent way to end a perfect meal!


I look forward to the next chocolate dinner in the Community Classroom, which is scheduled for February, 7, 2015. Just one week before Valentine’s Day–you know we’ll have a sweet time.




You can register online at the McNally Robinson site. Call Barb King at McNally Robinson at 204-475-0483, or email if you have any questions. But please don’t wait! The chocolate dinners always sell out well in advance of the event date.  Hope to see you then, or at another one of the chocolate events I’ve got coming up. Stay tuned (subscribe) to this site for updates.

Chocolatour wins bronze medal!

I’m thrilled to announce that “Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate”  has been awarded a Bronze Medal in the 2014 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards! Readers' Favourite Bronze Medal badge





I plan to go to Miami in November to claim my award, but for now, this badge, and the lovely certificate they have sent me will do.

Readers  Favorite Award Certificate-page-001

Thanks to everyone who has supported this book through every stage: the offering of guidance, contributing to the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, buying the book, attending Chocolatour events, sending me chocolate samples and granting me interviews, inviting me to attend chocolate events and attractions, offering me discounted travel and accommodations so that I can continue to conduct my global research, technical support, reviewing the book, etc.

Each and every one of these acts of kindness and support has been integral to my success. Thanks so much to all of you. Please help me continue to spread the word about Chocolatour.

In appreciation,

Doreen Pendgracs, Award-winning Author

Chocolatour is a Readers’ Favorite Finalist!

Such amazing news came through tonight that I just had to share!

Readers' Favorite badge

Chocolatour has been named a finalist in the Readers’ Favourite 2014 book awards in four categories:

  • Non-fiction, Cooking & Food
  • Non-fiction, General
  • Non-fiction, Memoir
  • Non-fiction, Travel

There was a 50% increase in the number of entries this year, with some categories having as many as 300 entries, so to be selected as a finalist in one category would have been wonderful. But to have been selected a finalist in each of the four categories that were suitable for my book is beyond comprehension.

The winners will be announced on September 1st, with the awards ceremony being held in Miami on November 22nd to coincide with the Miami Book Festival .

Here is a link to the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Awards for anyone who has a book they’d like to enter.  Best wishes to all, and please send your good vibes my way so that Chocolatour is a winner on September 1, 2014.


join Chocolatour on a virtual book tour

This is an exciting week+ for me as I take Chocolatour on a virtual book tour around the world, from June 23-July 1, 2014.

I’m thrilled to have an interesting line-up of hosts who will run Q&A’s with me, guest posts that I may have written about my book or chocolate research, and one or two book reviews as well.


June 23rd, I was on and talked about some of my favourite chocolate destinations. You’ll find the post at

June 24th, my stop included a visit to the Adventuress Travel magazine, where I participated in a Q&A with editor/publisher Carolyn Hamilton at

June 25, I’m at The City Traveler, where I share five of my favourite chocolate cities at

June 26, I visit the Empty Nesters for a Q&A with Suzanne Stavert at

June 27, I’m on Boomeresque where Suzanne Fluhr is kind enough to review Chocolatour at

June 28th, Jenna Davis will share her review of Chocolatour on her site at

June 29th, I’m thrilled to be featured on the site of fellow Manitoba blogger Donna Janke at for a chat about the chocolate dinners and events I’ve been hosting.

June 30th, I’m on Michele Peterson’s site at  Michele’s blog A Taste for Travel shares a similar focus on travelling the world for the sake of great taste, as we do in Chocolatour, so it’s a perfect match.

July 1st, I’m wrapping up the tour and celebrating Canada Day with a post saluting a few of my Canadian chocolatiers and chocolate makers on the site of Canadian author Sarah Butland at

When you visit any of these sites, you’ll be directed on how to receive a coupon code to save 20% off the purchase price of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate between June 23-July 1, 2014. Just choose your purchase option from the “Buy the Book” page on this site, and you will have the opportunity to  enter the code and receive your discount.

In celebration of the virtual book tour, if you order the print copy of the book during this week, I may even surprise you with a taste of chocolate along with your book!

Thanks, and may you enjoy your chocolate … and your chocolate travels.

exploring the many flavours of chocolate

We had our third “Exploring the Many Flavours of Chocolate” chocolate dinner event in the Community Classroom of McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg last night. So thrilled that the sell-out crowd enjoyed chatting about chocolate travel and tasting the chocolate menu created by Chef Karen Nielsen and team of the Prairie Ink Restaurant. Constance and Doreen

It was especially awesome to have Manitoba’s top chocolatier Constance Menzies of Chocolatier Constance Popp  join us for the evening. Constance and I share a great passion for artisanal chocolate.

The evening began with a strawberry almond salad dressed with quince balsamic and dark chocolate. I enjoyed mine with a chocotini! strawberry almond salad with chocolate dressing

The main course was the Beef Short Ribs braised in wine, bacon, onions, and bittersweet chocolate – the same amazing dish we’d had at the April 12th chocolate dinner.

And the evening ended with a caramel pepper chocolate mousse cake that drove some of us to a state of chocogasm! caramel pepper chocolate mousse cake Our next chocolate dinner in the Community Classroom is slated for September 20th. If you’re in Manitoba, and can make it to Winnipeg for the evening, we’d love to have you join us. Registrations are now being accepted. But don’t wait! These chocolate events sell out quickly.

chocolate dinners in the Community Classroom

Establishing chocolate travel as the new niche has been my goal ever since embarking on the journey of researching and writing Chocolatour. But for those who can’t or don’t wish to travel, the journey of chocolate discovery can still be had at the delicious chocolate dinners we have been holding in the Community Classroom of McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg.

Chocolate dinner in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers

I wrote about the first of these dinners held Nov 2, 2013 in this earlier post. Today, I’d like to share the menu we experienced yesterday at the April 12, 2014  chocolate dinner.

Chef Karen Nielsen

Hats off to Chef Karen Nielsen and her team for creating a superb menu for last night’s meal. We started off with a Strawberry and Almond Salad topped with a quince balsamic and dark chocolate dressing. I loved it, but was too engulfed in dinner conversation to remember to capture it in a photograph!

Bittersweet Chocolate Beef Ribs








The second course was Bittersweet Chocolate Beef Short Ribs simmered in a chocolate-infused red wine sauce.  They were tender, delicious, and cooked to perfection.

The meal was completed with an absolutely stunning dessert of Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut Dacquoise–a creation of Patisserie Chef Geoffroy Dextraze, who is part of the culinary team at Prairie Ink. It was one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.

Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut Dacquoise

I think everyone at this sold-out event really enjoyed the ambiance and culinary treats, and learned that chocolate is so much more than candy.

Here’s looking forward to the May 3, 2014 chocolate dinner we’ll be having in the Community Classroom. I’m sure Karen and her team will generate more squeals of delight with their offerings.

chocolate dinner

My dining companions Tara and Christopher Brasher of Winnipeg were a bit surprised at the impassioned sounds of my chocogasm. You can have one, too, if you join us.

We’ve also just scheduled a chocolate dinner in the Community Classroom for September 20, 2014. Be sure to register early, as these events at McNally Robinson sell out very quickly. Stay tuned for more chocolate events coming your way.

Chocolatour receives five-star review from Readers’ Favorite

Today was a super day for Chocolatour!

The book received a five-star rating from the Readers’ Favorite Reviews and Awards site.

Readers' Favorite badge

I’ve entered Chocolatour in several categories in the awards, and with any luck, come July 1, 2014, I’ll be announcing that we’re a finalist in the Readers’ Favorite Awards —  to be chosen September 1, 2014 .


Here is the review that you’ll see on the Readers’ Favorite site:

Review of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate, Volume I
Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite”To all chocolate lovers, this is a travel book that you will not want to overlook. Doreen Pendgracs’ Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate takes readers around the globe in the hunt for the best chocolate, chocolatiers, chocolate makers, events and attractions from seven countries including France, Italy, and Switzerland, and to the growing cocoa regions of Peru, Ecuador, and the West Indies.
I strongly suggest to readers to have a chocolate bar near because Pendgracs bombards Chocolatour with picturesque and delicious photos of everything related to chocolate, including recipes from chefs.

Do you know the difference between cacao and cocoa? If you love chocolate but lack the knowledge like me, Pendgracs deftly explains relevant terminologies specific to the world of chocolate in Chapter 1. Novices of the chocolate culture will know what differentiates chocolate makers, chocolatiers, and chocolate masters. Readers will love chocolate in Chapter 2, “Chocogasms and Other Health Benefits of Chocolate”. I do have my personal favorite – Chapter 9, “Sweet Success in Switzerland”, as my two favorite chocolate products are Toblerone and Lindt.

Simply put, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate gives seasoned and new chocolate lovers incomparable insight into the self-indulgent culture of chocolate. It is undeniably an enjoyable and easy read with an appetizing theme boosted by clear, flawless prose. If you plan to travel soon, it is wise to bring this book along. Delightfully, this is only volume one of Chocolatour, so you can look forward to more of Doreen Pendgracs’ mouth-watering quest in the next installment.”


Chocolatour at the Hawaii Chocolate Festival

It was fun being a speaker at the 2014 Hawaii Chocolate Festival last month. They have a huge venue at the Dole Cannery in Honolulu, with a good assortment of exhibitors including cacao growers, chocolate makers, chocolatiers, candy makers, and companies who make soaps from cacao, liquor infused with cocoa, and of course, an author promoting her book about the best chocolate of the world (that would be me!)

During my talk at the Hawaii Chocolate Festival. Photo credit: Suzanne Fluhr















Here are a few photos to whet your appetite to the idea of travelling to some of the intriguing chocolate events I have listed in Chapter 11 of Chocolatour. You’ll find the Hawaii Chocolate Fest listed on page 125. Please visit/subscribe to my chocolate travel blog at for detailed posts about my Chocolatour to the Hawaiian Islands.

There was a great selection of tasty treats at the Hawaii Chocolate Fest
It was nice to be welcomed by hula dancers at the Hawaiian Chocolate Fest



Madre Chocolate was an exhibitor at the Hawaii Chocolate Festival


one-day sale


Doreen at the Inspired by Chocolate Valentine’s Day event in Selkirk, Manitoba.

Greetings everyone! Our “Inspired by Chocolate” Valentine’s Day event at the Selkirk Golf & Country Club went so well on Friday that I’m down to 20 remaining copies of the first print run of Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate.

February 17, 2014: my one-day sale

In honour of Louis Riel Day here in Manitoba, other Family Days across Canada, and Presidents’ Day in the US, I’m offering a 1-day sale to clear out those books and focus on the updated second printing.

If you live in Canada, you can get a copy of Chocolatour for $23 including postage. If you live in the US, I’ll mail you a signed copy tomorrow for $27. Just post a PayPal or e-transfer payment to me today, and help me  put the best chocolate book ever in your hands before I head off on my research trip to Hawaii, where I’ll be speaking at the Hawaii Chocolate Festival on Feb 22nd. (Research for the second volume of Chocolatour.)

Here are a few more pics from the “Inspired by Chocolate” event where chocolate-inspired art, literature, and confections were brought together for a decadent day of chocolate bliss.

Chocolate books, chocolates from Constance Popp Chocolatier, and chocolate desserts complimented the chocolate-inspired art show.


A sampling of the chocolate inspired art that was on display and for sale at the Feb 14th event.