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Chocolate heaven in Shrewsbury town church

Shrewsbury | | Published:

Fancy trying the chocolate voted the best in the world? Or some chocolate beer made with well water? Or what about chocolate pasta, which can be served with a Stilton sauce ?

All these - and more - are on offer at Shrewsbury's first ever Chocolate Festival, which is taking place this weekend.

Pablo Spaull who was demonstrating the art of chocolate making from beans at the Chocolate Festival

Organised by local award-winning chocolatier Julia Wenlock, the event has brought together some of the biggest names in chocolate - from bean producers and manufacturers to those who marry the country's favourite confectionary with top tipples.

They have packed in to St Mary's Church in St Mary's Place, where the heady scent of chocolate mingles in the air.

Among the stallholders taking part is Mattieu de Gottal, who has travelled to the event, which runs until tomorrow, from his kitchen in the Cotswolds.

He teams chocolate with different whiskies and will be giving a demonstration of his craft.

"This is the first time I have done a festival like this," he said.

"I use chocolates from all over the world, including Mexico, Venezuela and Papua New Guinea and I match them with whiskeys to see which one goes best.

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"This festival is a really good way for me to talk directly to my customers. I have been working on my chocolates for about a year so this is a perfect way for me to show them off."

Duffy Sheardown with his stall at the Chocolate Festival
Carla Siswick and Bob Saunders from Oxfam with their Fair Trade products at the Chocolate Festival

Janette Rowlatt from the Chocolate Gourmet, based on Wyle Co, said the festival was a great thing for the town. "It is perfect for Shrewsbury," she said. "The setting is wonderful and it is brilliant to see so many chocolatiers come together in one place."

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Mia Facchin, from La Triestina, near Ludlow, hsd brought her chocolate pasta to the event.

"It doesn't taste too strongly of chocolate," she said. "It is much more of a hint, a bit like squid ink pasta.

"It has a very delicate colour, like milk chocolate."

Richard Latham from the Ultimate Fudge Outlet at the Chocolate Festiva
Holly Robinson on the Toot Sweets stall at the Chocolate Festival
Pennie Pergilly with her cake stall at the Chocolate Festiva

She added: "I head about the chocolate festival and I was intrigued.

We have done the Ludlow Food Festival and Shrewsbury Flower Show and thought this would be a good one to try.

"We have worked on creating good blends between some of our Italian wines, such as our dessert wines and Prosecco and chocolates. This is what we have concentrated on for this show."

Chocolate importer Jonathan Tailyor, from Little Ness, near Nesscliffe, said: "We have very good quality chocolate in the provinces and this is something those in London are starting to realise.

"I had to support this event as it was local.

"There are quite a lot of people in Shropshire taking an interest in high end quality chocolate.

"In fact, there is a little chocolate industry here in Shropshire.

"I have had people come to my stall during this chocolate event who have show a real interest in what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve. They are not just being polite, they are genuinely interested.

"This show has been amazing. We are in a great venue and we are able not only to sell our product but also to educate those who are coming along."

Duffy Sheardown, from Duffy's of Cleethorpes, is the holder of the prestigious Best Chocolate in the World title for his Ocumare 55 per cent milk chocolate bar.

He said: "If someone is starting a chocolate festival and putting the effort in to organise it then I had to support it. We decided to come along as we have never been to Shrewsbury and it really is a beautiful place. The setting for the festival is stunning and I really hope this is repeated next year."

Organiser Julia Wenlock said: "I am delighted with how the festival has gone. It has been going really well and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves."

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