March 12, 2013
Over hot chocolate, of course, I found out how the Festivals began
As founder and organiser of The Chocolate Festival, and its sister festivals of Cheese & Wine, Tea & Coffee, and Real Bread, Yael Rose presides over a mini empire of fabulous food.
From her childhood in Israel, including stints in the army and on a kibbutz, she developed a strong work ethic, but has a fiercely non-conformist attitude. A self-starter with a talent for organising, she turned her hand to a variety of things until the lifelong foodie in her had a light-bulb moment. Now Yael Rose is a rebel with a cause.
Pacing through the urban jungle of Waterloo on my way to meet Yael, fellow working mother and chocophile, currently pregnant with her fifth child, I thought now much I admire this woman. Settled into a corner table at Canteen, the café that borders the South Bank site that is home to the London Festivals, I quickly discover how much I truly like this woman. She is funny and irreverent, and charmingly insightful about the brilliance and eccentricity of the chocolate world and those who inhabit it. A small and strikingly beautiful woman, pregnancy has done nothing to dim her looks. She wears it maddeningly well. On the day we meet she is jaunty with jade green eye shadow, which sounds audacious but utterly works on her. Her impending event has done nothing to dim her energy, or her ambition for the advocacy of fine chocolate.
Of course The Chocolate Festival now takes place in four cities, with London, Oxford, Bristol and Brighton benefitting from the twice-yearly influx of some of the finest in the industry. If you have never been to one don’t miss the Easter Festivals that are imminent. In one place you will find chocolate makers and chocolatiers, and in London talks on working with chocolate, tasting chocolate and recipe demonstrations. Most of the talks and demos are subject to only the smallest booking fee. But if you just want to browse you can still taste some glorious things from true masters of their art. They are there to meet and talk, and all the while you will be learning and finding out what you like.
For the first time this year Yael is arranged a Chocolate Week in Israel, and has masterminded the Israeli heat of the International Chocolate Awards. (Both took place in February). When we met she was excited and anxious at bringing the awards to her hometown. Hoping the local talent would interest the judges. She is proud to give Israeli chocolate a chance to compete on the world stage. Last year saw one Israeli entrant, Ika of Tel Aviv, granted the status of world finalist for its milk chocolate lemon praline bonbon.
Israeli Chocolate Week will also give Yael the chance to do what she loves most, presenting to camera, inviting, informing and tempting people to come and join in the fun. Israel is thrilled that its chocolatey daughter is coming home, and a food channel is running chocolatey TV coverage during the week.
With all the chocolate around I wonder what is Yael’s personal chocolate must have? As we have been talking her hands have been wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate so she is able to answer my question with a simple nod in its direction. She has to have hot chocolate every day!
In Yael Rose I present to you a woman who truly loves what she does, and don’t they say that is the secret to success.
For details of the Chocolate Festivals and Yael’s other festivals check out the website.
The beautiful Easter goodies in the lead photograph of this piece are from Cocoapod. You can find them and their lovely things at cocoapod.co.uk
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