This year's Chocolate Fest at the Congregational Church of Belmont would make Willie Wonka proud.
Chocolate in just about every form a sweet tooth can sink into will be offered at the Fest on Friday and Saturday, including brownies, ice cream, gelato, cookies, truffles, toffee, and candy, in all shapes, sizes, and chunks.
Though the history of chocolate dates to ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America, the delectable delights offered at the festival come from 20 local vendors up and down the Peninsula, with a couple, including Café Mossant and A-Lot-A Gelato, located in Belmont.
Four newcomers to the Fest include Foxy's Toffee, Jade Chocolates, Terrific Toffee Treats, and Erin's Sweet Treats, according to Micki Carter, event spokeswoman and one of the original organizers of the event.
The chocolate sampling takes place in the church dining room and two verandas at the church, which offer views of Notre Dame hills as well as coffee and champagne. The Michael Medwid Jazz Trio keeps the beat during the two-day event, which includes two evening sessions and one afternoon session.
"The jazz trio plays all three sessions. People will sit on the veranda and drink champagne and venture out every so often for a chocolate hit," Carter said. "We have heaters in case it's chilly outside."
Evening sessions tend to be more of a social event where people often stay for a while, she said.
"It's very much like a party, a pretty classy party," Carter said.
Carter, who has been involved in the Chocolate Fest since its inception and was the event chair for more than 20 years, said the first year was the most difficult for getting vendors to commit to participate. Once the first chocolate maker signed on—it was Preston's Candy and Ice Cream of Burlingame—the next group of vendors came on board quickly, Carter said.
Preston's, which has been in business in the same location since 1946, is still a presence at the festival, and has used the event to launch new products in the past. A few years ago, they introduced a European-style hot cocoa with handmade marshmallows.
Someone attending the event posted kudos about the cocoa on a blog that night, and by the next morning people there were lined up outside Preston's waiting to buy their hot chocolate kit.
Those attending this year's festival will get a chance to sample it, according to Irene Preston, the owner.
Preston's will also be sampling some of their handmade candies, and caramel apples will be available for purchase, too.
Over the years the Fest has moved away from national name-brands such as Hershey's, opting for smaller local candy makers and bakers instead—even California-based See's Candies became too big for the Fest's tastes.
Vendors are not allowed to sell their goods in the tasting room so that people can sample and enjoy the chocolate without pressure to buy anything, but they do have chocolate to sell in the church's boutique. Proceeds from the ticket sales and chocolate sales go to support the preservation of the historic church, and other non-profit endeavors and organizations.
Tickets purchased in advance are discounted and start at $15 for seniors and children at the afternoon session; and $17.50 for adults; $20 at the door. Evening session tickets are $22.50 in advance, and $25 at the door, with no discounts for seniors or children.
Times for the session are: Friday, Oct. 8, 7:30pm to 10pm; Saturday, Oct. 9, 1:30pm to 4pm; and 7:30pm to 10pm.