talking chocolate at the International Chocolate Festival in Silicon Valley

I was thrilled to be invited to be the Keynote Speaker at the first annual International Chocolate Festival April 21-22, 2018, at the San Mateo Event Center in Silicon Valley, California.

international-chocolate-festival

I enjoyed talking about Chocolate Travel and the Terroir of Chocolate with chocolate lovers at the International Chocolate Festival in San Mateo, California.

international-chocolate-festival

The first annual International Chocolate Festival held in San Mateo got a terrific turnout for its first run in April, 2018.

the international chocolate fest 2018 in silicon valley was a hit

The truly international event attracted 15,000 visitors over the course of its two-day run, with ongoing cooking demonstrations, a Guatemala-flavoured cacao ceremony, several other speakers, and a myriad of chocolate goodies to taste from the 50+ vendors who came from as far away as Dubai, UAE.

international-chocolate-festival

Martin van Almsick, general manager, (left) and Patrick Dorais, director of sales (right) for Al Nassma Chocolate of Dubai were a hit at the International Chocolate Festival.

It was cool to meet Dubai-based Martin van Almsick and Patrick Dorais of Al Nassma Chocolate and witness the enthusiasm they received from chocolate lovers tasting camel’s milk chocolate for the first time. Readers of Chocolatour volume I may recall that I included Al Nassma in the A-Z guide for chocolate lovers in the back of the book, and mentioned enjoying Al Nassma’s dark chocolate flavoured with oranges, dates or almonds. Al Nassma’s camel’s milk chocolate is quite different than any other chocolate you will have tried. I hope to visit their camel-milking facility in the United Arab Emirates prior to publishing volume III of Chocolatour.

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It was a pleasure meeting Sacred Steve of Sacred Chocolate at the International Chocolate Festival in San Mateo, California.

Another popular vendor at the International Chocolate Festival (ICF) was Sacred Chocolate manned by none other than Sacred Steve (Adler) of San Rafael, California. Sacred Chocolate is raw, unroasted, organic, stone-ground, and vegan, and comes in a variety of mind-blowing flavours such as the Amazonia featuring 22 herbs and berries from the Amazon jungle, and the TuMo bar containing ginger, curcumin, and peppercorn to offer your body a healthy punch that grows on you with every bite.

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It was a pleasure meeting fellow author Birgitte Rasine and seeing her beautiful illustrated book entitled, “the Jaguar and the Cacao Tree.”

Multi international award winner Pacari Chocolate,ย based in Ecuador, is one of the finest South American chocolate makers, and had a very popular booth at the ICF. Cao Chocolate of Miami, Florida, was there with its terrific single origin chocolate offerings. And there were also many California-based chocolate companies, old and new. Michael’s Chocolates is a new company from San Francisco specializing in flavoured bonbons. Raphio Chocolate is a terrific new bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Fresno, California. There was truly something for everyone to explore and enjoy–and so many fascinating people to talk to!

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Isabel Cali of One Light Tribe led us through a captivating cacao ceremony that featured fresh cacao from Guatemala.

The highlight of the festival for me was meeting Isabel Cali, an American who spends much of her time in the Amazon and jungles of Central America expanding her knowledge in plant medicine. Isabel is the founder of One Light Tribe, a collective that celebrates healing through medicinal plants such as cacao. I will be writing more about Isabel and her work in the post I will be writing about sacred cacao ceremonies. Stay tuned for that.

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One Light Tribe hosted the cacao ceremony at the International Chocolate Festival in Silicon Valley.

Hats off to Pamm McFadden and the rest of the team that worked tirelessly to put together this fantastic event for chocolate and cacao lovers. I’m sure that next year’s International Chocolate Festival will be even bigger and better. Hope to see you there!

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

62 Responses

  1. Pamm
    Twitter:
    says:

    It was wonderful to have you at the festival! People truly enjoyed hearing your talks.

    We wish you wonderful chocolatey travels.

  2. Carol
    Twitter:
    says:

    I am so proud to know you! It is so great you found your niche early on and that you are already in Volume III. You are truly a chocolate connoisseur.

  3. Andrea Kovarcsik
    Twitter:
    says:

    Congratulations, Doreen, on being the keynote speaker at the fest! It looks like it was a lot of fun, and delicious!

  4. Kathy Andrew
    Twitter:
    says:

    How cool to have met all these people there Doreen. So sorry I wasnโ€™t one of them, but one of these days weโ€™ll work something out.:-)

  5. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    Who better to be keynote speaker than you Doreen? What a privilege to speak to 15,000 people on a subject you know inside out. I am intrigued as to what camel’s milk chocolate tastes like. I am sure I will find out one day……….

  6. Betty Jackson
    Twitter:
    says:

    That must have been a real hoot. Most folks have no idea about the real story of chocolate and how it is produced. Thank you for helping us learn about it …. and we now know how to buy it.

  7. Susan says:

    Love Reading about your travels ,Doreen. Camel’s milk Chocolate sounds very interesting ,Indeed.

  8. Linda Strange says:

    How very exciting, Doreen ! Obviously most of the world has a love for, and a growing curiosity about chocolate. I’m so glad your interest was ahead of the curve. Hopefully you’ll have more time to pursue your chocolate travel and writing career. I look forward to Volume ll of Choclatour.

  9. Nancie
    Twitter:
    says:

    Looks both delicious and educational. That’s my kind of festival. I’m not surprised a chocolate conference would be so popular. Most people love chocolate. I’d love to see the cacao ceremony.

  10. Judy says:

    Sounds like Heaven, Doreen! You certainly found your calling, and you get to travel too!

  11. What an event and to be the keynote speaker is amazing!! Congratulations on all your achievements!!

  12. Kemkem
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a fun festival it must have been. Funny, I was thinking of you just this morning. I was having my cappuccino with nothing to eat for breakfast and found some sort of chocolate wafer things that are common in Valencia. I thought Doreen wouldn’t approve of this ๐Ÿ™‚ . See how you are starting to affect my taste buds? Love it ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Fred - Nouq
    Twitter:
    says:

    Doreen,
    Nice review! Indeed the camel milk chocolate bar with orange is a best seller. Many tourists visiting Dubai take this bar back home.
    I hope you find enough time to visit the Al Bastakiya historical district in Dubai where a few cafes and restaurants serve camel milk ice cream.
    Cheers.

  14. What a fascinating conference that must have been. And congratulations on being chosen as a speaker!

  15. Chocolate travel… what a great idea!

  16. Beverly says:

    I am glad you had the opportunity to meet so many fellow chocolate enthusiasts. Congratulations on being the Keynote Speaker.

  17. 15,000 visitors!! Wow, that speaks volumes about our love of chocolate. What an awesome event for you to be the keynote speaker. Was the smell of chocolate everywhere?

  18. michele h peterson
    Twitter:
    says:

    That cacao ceremony sounds fascinating! Great to hear they featured Guatemalan cacao!

  19. Cindy Baker
    Twitter:
    says:

    Fascinating snippets from the conference. I had no idea there was such a thing as camel’s milk chocolate, and I can’t wait to hear more about the cacao ceremony. Chocolate always makes me feel better!

  20. I heard about this chocolate festival but missed attending it. You helped me see what I missed. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for it next year.

  21. Big congratulations again, Doreen! Delightful for you to be invited to be the keynote at such a great event.

  22. Nathalie
    Twitter:
    says:

    So much chocolate! Congratulations on being invited to be the Keynote Speaker, what a great honour.

  23. Babul
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a fun festival it must have been. Funny, I was thinking of you just this morning. I was having my cappuccino with nothing to eat for breakfast and found some sort of chocolate wafer things that are common in Valencia.
    Thank you for sharing this with us..

  24. Samayaaspa says:

    The blog was very attractive and easy to read. Thanks for sharing this article with us.

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  25. 15,000 participants! That is one huge meeting. Congratulations on your presentation~

  26. Hamam Spa says:

    The blog was very attractive to read. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. Sue Reddel
    Twitter:
    says:

    Such a wonderful opportunity for you Doreen! I’m sure that everyone learned a lot from your expertise. Hope to hear you speak one day.

  28. Sandy N Vyjay
    Twitter:
    says:

    Silicon Valley must indeed have reverberated with the magic of chocolate. And of course, no Chocolate event would be complete without Doreen’s presence. The event looks so interesting and it would have been a great experience interacting with Chocolate experts from around the world.

  29. What an amazing event! So many great vendors, of course 15,000 people wanted to be a part of it! That cacao ceremony looks really intriguing, I haven’t seen one before.

  30. Kartik
    Twitter:
    says:

    Doreen! This is a separate level of specialisation on the knowledge of chocolates. I never knew chocolates could be classified similar to coffee in the way of being categorised as unroasted, vegan etc etc. Waiting to hear more about the lady from South America that you mention at One Light Tribe

  31. That’s fantastic Doreen. Way to go. They chose well when they chose you for the keynote.

  32. neha
    Twitter:
    says:

    I had no idea that there is an international chocolate festival in the Silicon Valley. You will be my go to person, whenever and wherever I need any information on chocolates, seriously! I so very much want to be a part of this festival

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