Although the weather was pretty bad, the fair was extending. Óbidos is an absolute gem. The small village is stunningly beautiful, and the chocolate fair is without a doubt the most beautiful in the world. It offers so many amazing handcrafted culinary pieces and is something which must be witnessed to understand. Set inside an old city and within the walls of an old castle brings this to a different level. All the stands, lectures, and displays were terrific, the work gone into creating this is beyond words. It takes talent, time, creativity, skills, persistence and a genuine passion. Nothing in lack thereof and the wow-effect factor was present. I was fortunate with the weather because it was raining cats and dogs, but in those 4 hours I was there I got lucky. Needless to say not many had shown up, but the following week was utterly packed.
I learned a lot of new techniques and gained a lot of new friendships. It was great to see new and “old” followers from other fairs in Portugal.
I created a short video for you to see!
I had the opportunity to speak with Lino Rõmao, who is the senior Coordinator of this opulent festival. I asked him the obligatory five Webchicken questions. You can read the brief interview below.
Why a chocolate fair in Obidos?
The first time we made the chocolate festival was in 2002. It was an American man living in Óbidos at the time with close ties to the chocolate business in Paris and New York who suggested such a setup. It became a covenant by the Mayor of Óbidos; if elected, he would turn his idea into reality.
Has Portugal become a contender in high-quality chocolate making in the world?
Portugal has always been a quality producer of chocolate, although in small quantities. The small dimension of our market has always been the worst enemy of “quality business.”
What makes this fair stand out to potential professional chocolatiers to display?
The chocolate festival in Óbidos is the oldest and still most significant chocolate festival in this country. Some producers and national brands present their new products in this event. We have a new program every year with show-cooking, family activities, workshops, etc. Since the 3rd edition we have on display, every year, an exhibition of chocolate sculptures around 10 to 15 pieces and about 2000 to 3000 kilos of chocolate. We have organized competitions of award-winning national and international chocolatiers. This competition will be back next year in a new format and with a different theme.
What are your duties as the Coordinator of this venue?
I’m the coordinator since 2016. During the year I gather information and contacts to put together a “new” festival every year. There is a discussion of the theme in focus with the municipality and the mayor. Then there is a plan and a schedule of actual program and production, hiring chocolatiers and different kinds of services, opening inscriptions for points of sale, bring bloggers and public figures that like to cook to our stage, new animation projects, etc.
Is the plan to bring this fair to an International level, or concentrating more on local and domestic products?
It is not easy to make an international festival, because the Portuguese market has its limits. Nevertheless, the festival is going strong, and we are slowly reaching the international clientele, partners, and participants. Our supplier and sponsor of chocolate for the sculptures, since 2017, is a Spanish brand – “Eureka,” and the art director, and the main sculptor is a young and very talented Brazilian chef chocolatier, that won our prize of “international chocolatier of the year,” in 2014. This year we had, for the first time a South American project of “bean to bar” present in six different countries of Latin America. We hope to make this partnership grow. As we hope to carry on this relationship with the region of Bahia, Brasil, to intensify the flow of Portuguese chocolate to Brasil and Brazilian cocoa to Europe.
Thanks for reading