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Valley Journals

Local chocolates, cheeses draw crowds to Things get sweet at the museum of natural Natural history History Museum

May 08, 2017 10:44AM ● By Bryan Scott

Colorful chocolate tulips from the Ogden company, Chocolat, highlight guests as they sample booth to booth. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)

By Keyra Kristoffersen | keyrak@mycityjournals.com

On April 8 and 9, foodies flocked to the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah to engage their taste buds by sampling delights during the fourth annual Chocolate and Cheese Festival. 

“We wanted to present that local perspective, because they’re both products that are being handmade in Utah,” said Kris Chapman of the Natural History Museum’s public relations department.

Partakers of the mostly local foods also had the opportunity, for an additional fee, to attend workshops in chocolate- and cheese-related subjects taught by the expert vendors. Both adult and kid-specific workshops were available in chocolate and cheese pairing, bizarre foods and the most popular subject on the art of fondue in chocolate and cheese.

This event brings more than 25 local chocolate and cheese creators with other foods grown or made in and around Utah, such as honey and jams.

“We have so many entrepreneurs who wanted to get involved in the process. We wanted to start by highlighting and showcasing some of the Utah companies,” said Chapman.

Ruth Kendrick, founder of the Ogden-based company Chocolat, came to show off her style of using colored cocoa butter to give her chocolates unique designs, patterns and colors. 

“We have probably 20 different types and shapes of impressions. It’s not the old fondant that you have to stir and is super sweet. They’re more fun. The colored cocoa butter is more fun,” said Kendrick. “This is the only selling event we do. It’s a good one.”

Kendrick says she began learning the art of chocolates from her mother who was a chocolatier and combining that with an ongoing education in European candy making. Her molded chocolate creations have made her booth a popular one at the festival for the last four years.

The festival brought in more than 3,000 guests on Saturday, a record-breaking number compared to past years.

Some artists, such as Alex Walton, drew inspiration from the surrounding dinosaur bones and fossils displayed at the museum.

Using wires, a special food-specific freezing spray and baking chocolate, Walton used techniques like hand carving, modeling chocolate, and melted chocolate as a glue to create skeleton sculptures of a Mastodon, Allosaurus, Stegosaurus and Utahceratops to display during the festival. Each sculpture took him around 15 hours to make as he hand-carved each head and rolled out rib bones. 

“I just make what I find interesting. These are more intricate and more delicate. I got the idea to make these when I was visiting the museum for the Chocolate and Cheese Festival last year as a visitor and walking around looking at the dinosaur bones and fossils. They’re dark brown and looks like they’re made of chocolate. There should be chocolate dinosaurs. No one else had done it before,” said Walton.

Participant Michelle Perroni said she’s planning on returning next year.

“It was really good. Very crowded. I definitely had my fill of chocolate and cheese. My favorite was the olive oil stand,” she said.

The next museum exhibit, running from May 2017 to January 2018, will be ancient Viking artifacts from Sweden. The exhibit will also include costumed theater actors to help teach Viking history and the use of the artifacts.

For more information on upcoming events, visit: https://nhmu.utah.edu/events.