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Chocolate lovers find bliss at annual Homewood festival

A visitor Saturday’s 11th annual Homewood Chocolate Fest helps himself toffee samples from Tiddleywink Toffee. | Jaime Angio~For Sun-Times Media

A visitor at Saturday’s 11th annual Homewood Chocolate Fest helps himself to toffee samples from Tiddleywink Toffee. | Jaime Angio~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 18, 2013 2:29AM



The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District auditorium was packed with chocolate, and people who love chocolate, Saturday afternoon for the 11th annual Homewood Chocolate Fest.

With 14 chocolatier vendors on hand, serving up everything from cake balls to cake pops to caramel apples, crowds in the hundreds enjoyed partaking in sampling and purchasing delectable sweets.

The combination of the delicious smells filling the auditorium with a family-friendly atmosphere proved a great way to break out of the winter blues and satisfy the sweet tooth.

Homewood event coordinator Allisa Opyd said it’s an incredible event.

“Who doesn’t love chocolate?” Opyd said. “We’ve been doing this for 11 years, and each year we acquire new vendors with different vendors that are showcasing different ways of utilizing chocolate.”

National brands such as Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Fannie Mae were on hand as well as local chocolatiers such as Sweet Annie’s, of Flossmoor, and EnJoi Bake Shop, Café and Catering, from Morris.

Local to Homewood, The Cottage on Dixie has something unique to offer. Duck Confit Mole. Chocolate? You bet.

Cory Roscoe, the executive chef, called it “sweet and savory.”

“It has about 30 different ingredients in it,” Roscoe said. “Dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, dried figs, raisins, almonds, pine nuts, four different types of peppers, duck stock, and duck and then with a little avocado, cilantro and lime mousse and top off with a sea salt.”

Katie Regalado, of Chicago, came with her husband, Gabriel, and their 4-year-old daughter, Grace.

“We saw it online on the free things to do in Chicago, and we figured it was a lot more fun than going downtown, and it’s fun,” Katie said. “Homewood is nice, and this chocolate fest is awesome. The ice cream from Mitchell’s was amazing. It was homemade and it was great.”

Coming back next year? “Absolutely,” Gabriel said.

Aryanna Lewis, 8, of Blue Island, couldn’t have asked for a better Saturday.

“I’m loving all the chocolate,” she said.

And there was no shortage of variety, that’s for sure.

Joi Walker, owner of Enjoi Bake Shop, Café and Catering in Morris, is in her third year as a vendor at Chocolate Fest. Despite going to bed at 3 a.m., Walker was ready and brought a little bit of everything with her.

“We brought some personal cakes, and then we turn all of our 20 cake flavors into our cake balls, which we’re famous for,” she said. “And our turtles are amazing, that’s what everyone is here for.”

Jean Kuhn, franchisee of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in LaGrange and Orland Park, has spent the past six years as a vendor at the festival.

“Today we have caramel apples, for which we are known for. In our stores we carry over 20 different varieties of caramel apples, but we only brought seven with us today. We have awesome chocolate-covered pretzels.”

Not a vendor yet, Tiffany Nobles, of Chicago, was set up for the amateur bake-off. Nobles, who was sponsored by BAPS (Black American Princesses) was up until 2 a.m. Saturday preparing her 130 chocolate cake balls.

“It’s chocolate cake, dipped in milk chocolate, and it has white chocolate drizzle on top,” she said.

A chocolate alternative? Kate Duff, of Homewood Kitchen Gardens, said her items have all the flavor and none of the calories.

“We have a variety of hand-made soaps and lip balms, lotion bars and other body care products that are made with cocoa butter, which is an ingredient in chocolate,” Duff said.

Chris Snedekon, of Lansing, came out for the first time and was in awe.

“It’s unbelievable, Snedekon said. “The Cold Stone chocolate cake is wonderful, but I’m looking forward to the chocolate balls from Enjoi,” she said.

Kayla Robertson, of Homewood, said the fest was “amazing.”

“Especially like the cakes, just to see them, they look so fake but they’re so real, if I had a thousand dollars, I would buy everything here,” she said.

Caryn McDonald, of Homewood, has been coming the past five years.

“I love seeing the new Homewood businesses popping up, like the Tiddleywink Toffee is brand new,” McDonald said. “It’s great to see and support the local up-and-comers. Oh my god, that Tiddleywink Toffee is fantastic, and of course, Sweet Annie’s is always great. I have a pocket full of chocolate, it’s all good.”

And the brainchild of Chocolate Fest, Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld, was on hand as well.

“Just look at the faces of the people that are here. It’s beautiful. Kids of all ages, grandparents with their grandchildren, you have young children with their parents, and there’s plenty of chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? “



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