Event: 15 reasons to book tickets for #CamChocoFest
Much as we hate to disagree with the Bard, music isn’t the food of love - it’s chocolate. Need convincing? Make a date for Cambridge Chocolate Festival this Valentine’s weekend. As media partner for the festival, Velvet gives a flavour of 2024’s delicious line-up
Grandma’s Rolling Pin is based in Cambridgeshire, making handmade indulgent chocolate bars! Their repertoire spans more than 25 different flavours, including classics like Mint and Orange and some whackier ones - such as Bubblegum.
Anisa & Chocolate is a chocolate-maker based in Ely, working from a tiny timber workshop in her garden. “I use transparently traded, single-origin beans to make my chocolate bars,” she explains. “Each bar tells a story. Its flavour reflects its terroir and the love and effort that has been put into growing the cocoa and transforming it into the final product.”
Rachel Bakes, owned by Le Cordon Bleu-trained patisserie chef Rachel, specialises in dessert tables, event favours and afternoon teas as well as also offering work lunches and celebration cakes. New for 2024, Rachel, who’s Cambridge-based, is also teaching pop-up chocolate classes.
Hay Chocolate is run by Lucy Felce, from the kitchen of her family's Cambridgeshire farm. Hand-making everything, “as well as using British ingredients,” says Lucy, “I use fruit grown on the farm, source high-quality produce from other local businesses and use sustainably sourced chocolate.”
Sweet Keto Chef, aka Matthew Caruana, uses his decades of experience as a professional chef to create “luxurious indulgence that is still health-conscious”. He says: “I craft award-winning bean-to-bar chocolate from sustainable, high-welfare cocoa, transforming it into delectable bars, bonbons, and pralines.”
HoneyShed Bakery founder Ana Cerdeno-Tarraga has been baking for more than 12 years now, and chocolate has always featured heavily on her cakes menu. Based in Dullingham, she’s joining the Cambridge Chocolate Festival with her celebrated brownies and blondies, her New York-style cookies and some of the chocolate cake flavours that will feature in her new 2024 menu.
Truffles and Chocolate, based in Papworth, emerged from founder Janet Marsh’s genuine love for chocolate, tracing its roots back to the establishment of Sweetie Factory in 2009. With signatures including jewel-like hand-painted bonbons with bespoke fillings, ranging from fruity bursts to warm caramels, Janet’s dedication to quality and innovation has given rise to a unique selection of artisanal chocolates and boozy truffles.
Chocolate Seekers is based in Kettering and run by Carlene Cole and Brian Roberts, who seek out bean-to-bar craft chocolate - made from the top 5% of cocoa beans - from around the world. They are dedicated to bringing hard-to-find chocolate to the UK; chocolate that's crafted with love, care and passion and minimal ingredients; chocolate that provides cocoa farmers with a better income and allows them to protect the environment.
Chocolat Chocolat, a favourite for chocolate-lovers both in Cambridge and beyond, has moved to a new chocolate kitchen nestled in countryside just outside the city, where chocolatier and founder Isabelle Chappell and her team create their famous handmade chocolate. They say: “It’s said that it is better to give than to receive, but a Chocolat Chocolat bouquet of handmade chocolate is made for sharing - which makes it twice as nice for Valentine’s Day!”
The Linton Kitchen, famous across the area for its fresh, seasonal and scrumptious cakes, bakes and savouries, will be selling its wares - signatures including chocolate Guinness sponge and best-ever brownies - at Cambridge Chocolate Festival again this year. Founded by Gemma Whiting, The Linton Kitchen now has three sites: the OG cafe in Linton, its ‘little sister’ Barbarella in Chesterton, and now an all-new venue at Flourish, the organic farm in Hildersham.
Meadows, the neighbourhood Cambridge delicatessen and kitchen, has stocked chocolate from local makers since day one - including Anisa & Chocolate, Bumble & Oak, Tosier and Pump Street Chocolate. At this year’s festival, founder Suzannah Watson will host a cheese and chocolate workshop where, she says, “we will uncover parallels in flavour characteristics between these two very fine foods and will try to find out whether they actually pair well together or not. Hint: some will, some won’t. . .”
VG Coffee is a Cambridge-based coffee and food stand, with quality, flavour and sustainability at its core. Tom Ross and his team deliver vegan products that break stereotypes. With more than 15 years working with coffee, Tom will showcase how to get the best from - and to be able to taste the heart of - an espresso. Afterwards you'll have a chance to make your own coffee with an introduction into latte art using plant-based milk.
Miki Mistrati - the Danish investigative journalist who’s famously spent his career uncovering cases of child slavery and the child labour rife throughout the chocolate supply chain - will be showing his critically acclaimed 2022 docufilm, The Chocolate War, at the festival. After the screening, taking place in the Keynes Library, Miki will take audience questions while chocolate cocktails are served.
Small & Green, the Cambridge plant and gift brand, is sponsoring Cambridge Chocolate Festival for the third year running. Founder Janet Fox will be bringing a selection of gifts, including art cards, mix-and-match plants and pots for Valentine’s Day and her signature hand-built terrariums, put together in the shop on Mill Road. She will also be offering future workshop experiences that participants can sign up to and attend together.
Hello Sunshine by Jo Want is the home of all things happy! Expect fun, smile-inducing jewellery and accessories inspired by a few of Jo's favourite things. From gifts for cat fans and food lovers, to custom pet portraits, there’s something to spread joy for everyone. This year Jo is bringing the Sunshine to Cambridge Chocolate Festival, so pop along for a super-fast and fun 10-minute portrait, or treat yourself to some laser cut jewellery, enamel pins and Lucky Dip Boxes.
This year’s Cambridge Chocolate Festival features a wide-ranging workshop programme, including yoga, chocolate tasting, beginner’s barista art and a sure-to-sell-out food photography session with Elisa Orani from hit Cambridge-based blog My Foodie Days.
To book tickets for the workshops (running across the weekend, priced from £10) and the special screening of The Chocolate War (on the Friday night, from £22), search #CamChocoFest on Eventbrite.
Cambridge Chocolate Festival runs February 9 to 11 at Cambridge Union. With the main market running all day Saturday and Sunday, entry tickets cost £2 and are booking now via Eventbrite. For updates follow @camchocofest
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More by this authorAlice Ryan