The Chocolate Rush Festival

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The Chocolate Rush Festival


I mean, I don’t particularly love chocolate. I would say that I enjoy it when it’s given to me but I rarely crave it and I would probably 95 per cent of the time go for a piece of cheese instead. But there’s something about chocolate that makes it a globally-recognised treat. From the decadence of the Parisian chocolatiers to the chili-chocolate of the South Americans, to chocolate-flavoured vodkas from Eastern Europe all the way through to the chocolate doughnuts in the USA, there’s a little bit of the magical taste all over the world if you just look for it.

And now it’s in Australia too, with the Chocolate Rush festival, one of the only big food festivals servicing the chocolate industry exclusively. Organised by Simone Gordon, a foodie and chocolate lover herself, it’s been running only since 2007 but since then has expanded into quite and exciting and large event that brings people from interstate and overseas to learn, taste and enjoy the world of deliciousness.

It takes someone pretty passionate about chocolate to pull off a festival as extravagant as the Chocolate Rush Festival, which this year happens at The Docklands in Shed 4. “I was executive manager at Melbourne Food & Wine [Festival],” Simone Gordon explains. “There wasn’t really anything happening with the [chocolate] industry directly. So I decided that I should do something – so I mortgaged my house and off I went.”

Not everyone would mortgage a house for a dream of a chocolate festival, but Gordon is a true believer in the power and wonder of chocolate.

“I find this industry extraordinary with what they do;” Gordon gushes, “pastry chefs and chocolatiers – the way they make their chocolates, the passion and enthusiasm for what they make and the extraordinary things they create particularly at competition level. Some of the show pieces they make are just amazing; it’s like art with chocolate.”

For Gordon, part of the reward for organizing Chocolate Rush is to see the chocolate scene in Australia grow and the stars emerge. “I’ve definitely seen the industry grow over the years that I’ve done the festival and there has definitely been a lot more people that have got involved,” she says. “For example, we’ve got Sue Young at the festival this year doing some of the hands-on classes. She’s going to be off to Paris in October to represent Australia in The World Masters Chocolate Competition at Salon Du Chocolat.”

The Salon Du Chocolat is like Chocolate Rush squared – and in Paris. “It’s a big chocolate trade show and The World Masters are a part of it. The general public are allowed (at a huge cost) to go and experience some of the events that go on there. It’s an amazing experience from what I understand and they also have something that I’d love to do and will do at some point: chocolate fashion. It’s just extraordinary because chocolate can just be made into so many different things! They match chocolatiers with famous designers in Paris so they have to make outfits that they then have on the catwalk there.”

That is certainly one delicious dress, Mademoiselle… but enough about Paris. We’re not going to Paris. We’re going to Docklands, to experience out own little Salon.

Chocolate Rush holds such a huge range of events – both educational, entertaining and sometimes just plain delectable – that it attracts a wonderfully diverse crowd, from chefs and café owners taking in lessons and learning things, to families and couples just wandering through this chocolate wonderland.

“We like to try new things and do things differently, so this year we’re doing wine and chocolate – it’s something we’ve always done but we’ve got some fantastic different wines that are very…technical… and Laurent [Meric, chocolatier] from Cacao is in there mixing all of the chocolates that will go with the specific wines,” explains Gordon excitedly. “They’re also doing cognac and chocolate matching for the first time which I think will be an extraordinary craft.

“We’ve got The World Of Chocolate that Allan Campion does where he takes people on a journey through 15 different chocolates from around the world,” she goes on, “and takes them through tasting, shows people what to look for in a chocolate, explains the difference between cacao beans and where they come from and why the chocolates taste so different from each other, I suppose.

The cocoa bean is quite similar to a grape or a coffee bean so depending on the soil and the region that its grown in it will take on different flavours. Which makes it really interesting.

“We’ve also got Australia’s Best Truffle, so again with Allan Campion who takes people through the craft and teaches people how to judge a truffle and what to look for in a truffle. We’ve got some short hands-on classes this year that teach people how to make chocolate, mould chocolate; how to make truffles, how to make chocolate lollipops, etc.

“We’ve also got a fantastic hot chocolate workshop, so Robyn Curnow from Savour [Chocolate & Patisserie School based in Brunswick] will be showing people how to make really really good hot chocolates that they can either make at home or in a commercial environment.”

That’s not even all of it – don’t forget the five-course chocolate dinner held on a four-hour cruise featuring three chefs and your wildest chocolatey dreams… you’d be best to check out, but not on an empty stomach.

The Chocolate Rush festival happens this weekend on Saturday August 13 and Sunday August 14 at Docklands’ Shed 4. Entry is $25 for general admission or $15 concession and some events cost extra. Check out the website at to plan out your sweet, sweet weekend or call 1300 737 363 to book over the phone.