How a Dedicated Group of Foodies is Using Chocolate to Stimulate the Economy, One Blissful Bite at a Time
By Rebecca Muh
There was a time, now long gone, when the innocence of childhood made you feel like a king. And your kingdom’s currency was gold coins… coins whose wrappers you’d peel back to reveal the rich, milky, chocolaty goodness that would melt on your tongue.
Now all grown up, we know that real treasure, much less stability, is exceedingly difficult to come by. The country is overflowing with young adults struggling to develop skills, find their place in the rough economy, and earn their keep. For a needy generation of students in the heart of Chicago, that dream is becoming a reality thanks to a few influential people whose love for chocolate, of all things, is so strong it’s empowered them to change lives.
KoldCast TV’s new four-part miniseries, Behind the Dream: For the Love of Chocolate, takes us through the planning and preparation of the annual Chicago charity, “For the Love of Chocolate,” an extravagant evening gala celebrating the art of chocolatiers. The event raises money – over $230,000 last year alone – for at-risk students to study at The French Pastry School of Kennedy King College, run by culinary royalty Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne.
You are watching Part 1 of Behind the Dream: For the Love of Chocolate
With the rising costs of higher education, choosing the riskier path of a future in culinary arts may seem ludicrous to many low-income families. The “For the Love of Chocolate” scholarship foundation makes it possible for thousands of teenagers to follow their dreams each year. As the film behind the foundation, Behind the Dream exposes a more charismatic, compassionate side to the cutthroat nature of culinary arts typically promulgated by the likes of Gordon Ramsey.
The superstars of pastry, Chefs Pfeiffer and Canonne, give the next generation an opportunity to be the center of attention. Young would-be chefs work with corporations and youth groups to prepare the whimsical, glamorous “For the Love of Chocolate” gala.
The Big Bean
Among the gleaming faces in the boardroom is the inspirational powerhouse of a woman Gloria Hafer, who mentors at-risk teens for the non-profit organization, After School Matters. These high school students are tasked with creating the centerpiece for the event, and this year it’s a gigantic chocolate jellybean.
The sculpture is comprised of thousands of chocolate jellybeans and is inspired by Chicago’s iconic Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park. Jelly Belly, one of the many generous donors for the gala is sponsoring the project, and the students are volunteering their time to meticulously glue pea-sized Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips together to create the masterpiece. The program not only gives the kids an opportunity to work with professionals in the field, but also shows them dreams are achievable through persistence and hard work.
Gaga, Meat Dresses Are So Last Year…
A whimsical world of chocolate would not be complete without a surreal fashion show wherein all the clothes are made entirely of… chocolate. Chef Michael Washer walks us through the crafting of a peacock dress with feathers cut from dried multi-colored chocolate sauces. Architect Mindy Viamontes uses Intelligentsia coffee bags and filters to add frills to a mocha masquerade costume that marries Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The end result of these projects is a runway show replete with edible clothes that have to be seen – or smelled – to be believed.
From the chocolate-wear fashion show, patrons are led into a ballroom dance party aptly named “Sweet as Sin,” a world entirely dreamt up of chocolate. Each floor at the historic Chicago Merchandise Mart has its own theme. Innovative chocolate hors d’oeuvres are passed around, games are played, and more chocolate fashion is showcased. Chefs from around the world greet and welcome their generous patrons whose contributions are the real centerpiece of the fantastical evening: to provide underprivileged students with scholarships to fulfill their dreams of becoming chefs and chocolatiers.
A Sweeter Future
Behind the Dream’s beautiful synthesis is in its ability to draw you in by opening the door into a chocolate version of Alice in Wonderland and keeping you hooked by tying that blissful, elegant joy into the swelling pride of helping someone achieve their dreams.
With unemployment at staggering heights, hope for plain generosity is bleak and students are being inundated with the message that their dreams are unrealistic at best. Whether as a childhood treat or a bit of adult indulgence, chocolate has always been a source of comfort. Now that comfort is being administered to an entire community.
Divulge in Part 2 of the heartwarming story on how a little coco bean
is enacting big change in one community.
Rebecca Muh was dragged back to Los Angeles by her heels after a glorious four year run at New York University. Making the most of the loneliest city on earth, she is always on the search for fairy rings and a secret portal to transport her to the end of the world. Be the first to follow Rebecca on her tumblr, Manifest.