Last week Tutti Foodie, Scharffen Berger, and Marcia Gagliardi of Tablehopper joined forces and unveiled The Chocolate Adventure Recipe Contest with a number of events at local restaurants featuring pastry chefs and chocolate. On Monday August 13 I went to Campton Place to see what Boris Portnoy {pastry chef of Campton Place, the restaurant) might make and talk about. An innovative and forward thinking chef, Boris’s desserts guarantee a challenge to the palate as well as mind.

Much to my delight there was more in store than the same old chocolate thang I, and other pastry chefs, often find ourselves at. The afternoon at Campton Place was spent in a small private room on the second floor with some of California’s most dynamic food writers, bloggers, bakers and movers and shakers in the local chocolate scene.

Before we set about eating the arranged chocolate on our plates, John Scharffenberger gave a short but thorough history of cacao and chocolate. If you work for a school, or just love chocolate, give this semi-retired chocolate maker a call! His talk was engaging, funny, compassionate and delicious in every sense of the word. While leading us through the earth’s best rain forests for cacao growing, harvesting and fermenting, he directed us to eat the disparate chocolate shapes on our plates, in the order his lesson informed.

Much to the surprise of many of our virgin mouths, we tasted a number of chocolate examples which were not chocolate in the truest sense of the word. We learned that when tasting chocolate in its pure form, tongues met with acidity and tannins most commonly found in wine and bitter edges associated with dark-roasted coffees.

After eating 8-9 versions of cacao and chocolate we listened to Boris talk excitedly about his love for cacao nibs; their texture, flavor and versatility tantalized his sweet imagination. And discovering how to make his own chocolate in a food processor appeared to have changed his life! Yes, he encouraged, go and try this at home. After a short demonstration he motioned with a regal flourish, and quiet waiters appeared with a three component cacao nib-themed plated dessert.

You’d think after three hours of smelling, tasting, eating, talking, inquiring, and listening to chocolate I would have left the hotel without a desire to ponder the chocolate contest… But the truth is that my friend and I discussed what we would do if we could enter the contest. {I cannot, but he can.}

I thought I would share a bit of our conversation. Think of these word formations the way you would poetry, a game, an interpretive dance or maybe like you were sitting near us on BART, overhearing our chocolate-meal fueled crazytalk.

Theme: Bacon & Chocolate

Render bacon fat brunoise or dice, caramelize crispy pork fat cubes and make chocolate with this in food processor with cacao nibs.
Pork cracklins (like the snack food found at gas stations) enrobed in bittersweet chocolate.
Bacon lardons half dipped in chocolate.
Fatback chocolate with quince paste.
Pork belly & rosemary infused chocolate pot de creme, quince paste (?) & sea salt garnish.

Don’t worry, these ideas won’t end up on a dessert of mine…..

The Chocolate Adventure Recipe Contest website. “You. Dark Chocolate. And A Special Ingredient.”

The Rules are simple: pair a list of innovative/ aromatic spices and flavors with any of Scharffen Berger’s exquisite dark chocolates. The prizes include both money and fame. If you don’t want the Bacon & Chocolate dessert to win, enter soon.

And, as Jen Maiser said aptly, “What could be better than the opportunity to create an interesting recipe using chocolate?”

Related Links:
The Art of Tasting Chocolate
Jalapeno Girl
Ladle and Whisk

Chocolate Adventure Recipe Contest Ideas 20 August,2007Shuna Fish Lydon

  • Anonymous

    Sounds very interesting but you can’t be a professional chef or pastry chef & enter. That sucks for me

    Professional chefs currently working as such and employees of TuttiFoodie (Main Sponsor) or Scharffen Berger® Chocolate Maker (Affiliate Sponsor) (collectively “Sponsors”), their parents, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, printers and judges, and immediate families and individuals residing in the same household with any of these employees, are not eligible to enter or win.

  • shuna fish lydon

    Anonymous et al:

    The person behind the contest is currently attempting to re-work the rules so that it is more clear about who is and is not eligible to enter the contest.

    After being confused myself I contacted Lisa at Tuttifoodie and asked her some questions. Stay tuned for more details… Please be patient.


Shuna Fish Lydon

Shuna fish Lydon was whisked and baked in San Francisco but served and eaten in New York City. She’s had a 16 year tumultuous love affair with professional cooking and has BFA in photography from CCAC.

Working with and for some of the best chefs in NYC and California, Shuna’s resume reads like the who’s who of cooking today. She identifies as a fruit-inspired pastry chef and calls the many local farmers’ markets her muse.

Currently “at large,” Shuna spends her time teaching baking and knife skills classes, consulting at local restaurants and writing for a number of outlets about deliciousness.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor