You may remember me giving you the deets on the French Pastry School’s fundraiser, Cocoa Candyland 2011: For the Love of Chocolate. Well, this “Chicago Chic” girl had the opportunity to attend and it was FABULOUS.
The Merchandise Mart couldn’t have been a more perfect space for this chocolate lover’s paradise. Three distinct parties. One venue. Genius!
Upon entering Cocoa Candyland, my guest and I were greeted by the sounds of DJ Anacron, who flew in from Los Angeles to get this party rocking. Anacron’s numerous accolades as a rapper, musician, producer, and DJ have brought him acclaim in the independent Hip Hop world. Anacron has sold over 10,000 albums worldwide, and his music has been featured on television series such as Entourage, Dexter, and True Blood. Peeps of all ages partied to his soundtrack, which kept me two-stepping even as I attempted to exit the event later in the evening!
After enjoying the chocolate bars and tastings in the main area, I followed the candy-caned signs towards the next treat of the evening…the “Cocoa Lounge.” I cannot explain why, but this 80’s baby loves the 20’s and I felt right at home. Chicago’s “Flapper Girl” Erin McDougald provided sultry sounds for us, accompanied by Rob Block (piano and guitar), Lorin Cohen (upright bass) and Brian Ritter (drums). I enjoyed the custom cocktails provided by Grand Marnier and of course, more chocolate.
Heading out of the Lounge, I spotted a young lady in one of the hottest dresses that I have seen this year. My friend and I chased after her (ok, more of an upbeat walk) to ask the question that no upstanding diva should ask, “Where did you get THAT dress?” If I wasn’t so busy trying to be cute, leaving my glasses at home, I would have realized that….duh! The dress was made out of white chocolate and the lucky lady wearing it was Miss Illinois. Yep, this chocolate couture was created by the uber-talented Chris Thielman from College of Dupage, Brady Braden of B True Bakery, Cheryl Brookhouzen of The Marriott, and Norm Miller of Normy’s Confection Connection. Other ladies donning the choc couture were Ginger Zee of NBC, Mai Martinez of CBS, and Rochelle Vayo Adkinson of WGN-TV.
Next stop? After being side swiped by a couple of friendly characters from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (at least, that’s what they looked like to my naked eyes…my sincerest apologies if I am wrong) I landed in “Cocoa Sutra” – where east meets west. It was beautiful! A sexy and intimate retreat from the party on the other side of the curtains… Hookah. Good People. Hookah. Enough said!
Just outside of “Cocoa Sutra” was a pop up Astrology and Psychic Shop, compliments of Diana and Brandy Cameron. There were several partygoers waiting for henna tattoos and to have their palms read. I passed on a reading in the name of one of my childhood faves…cotton candy. Yep, I had to get to that cotton candy before it was too late.
Now you may ask- which chef was your fave? All of the big boys (and ladies) were there: Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill, Blackbird’s Paul Kahan and Patrick Fahy, Vie’s Paul Virant, Everest’s Jean Joho, Jason McLeod of Ria and Balsan, Graham Elliot’s Graham Elliot Bowles, Dave Danielson of Behind the Scenes Catering, the Peninsula’s Kai Lermen, and many others.
I have to say…I can’t choose! It was all yummy…
I partied hard and ate well. I left with a Chicago’s Celebrated Chefs Cookbook and cake prepared by the French Pastry students (almond pound cake with rum-soaked raisins and chocolate). But most importantly, I got to see how the French Pastry School gets down, for a noble cause (providing scholarships for students to attend the esteemed culinary institute). Kudos to For the Love of Chocolate Scholarship Foundation for a stunning affair.
I will be there next year and hopefully I will see you!
Save the date- February 4, 2012.
Cheers and Chocolate,