Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Festival – A Decadently Memorable Event

By Denice Sy

It was a day to remember at the 17th Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival last weekend. The chocolates, great entertainment, the friendly ambiance, good company and location, the sunny weather, everything just fell into place. I’ve gone to chocolate festivals before, but this was the first time I attended one hosted by Ghirardelli. I’ve heard many fun stories about it, and this most recent festival certainly lived up to its hype.

When my fellow SF/Cal correspondents and I were asked to cover this event, we literally jumped out of our seats, stoked to uncover the secrets of Ghirardelli’s high quality chocolates – in addition to tasting the wide array of flavors the festival participants had in store.

Upon our arrival at the event, my team and I were each provided a15-sample tasting ticket, which we adventurously spent on a variety of vendors. We visited myriad booths, however there were a few that really stood out for us. Being chocolate lovers all our lives, we wanted to try something different, something unfamiliar. We ended up starting our journey with Organic Pastures Dairy raw whole milk. We are pescetarian and passionate about the organic lifestyle, so we thought this would be a curious first stop. I was surprised with how fresh and clean it tasted compared to the generic brands, and also impressed to learn about their innovative small farming practices; healthy and environmental-friendly – they definitely have my support.

Another product that caught my eye was the eco-friendly Distilling Co.’s 360° Double Chocolate Vodka. I’ve heard of chocolate and wine pairing, but this was new to me. Many festival visitors testified this drink is rich, silky, and smooth in taste, however I had to rely on that testimony as I was “on the wagon” this weekend.

GÜDFÜD’s chocolate stuffed marshmallows also made my list. Their packaging alone was so adorable that it was calling for my attention. To think the brand name was not already enough to make me smile, my first bite into their decadent stuffed marshmallows made me all fluffy and energized inside. It gave me a chocolate boost to last the whole day.

Finally, the media-exclusive chocolate school was the highlight of our Ghirardelli festival experience. In just sixty minutes, Chocolate Professor, Steve Genzoli, was able to guide us through the whole Ghirardelli process – from the origins of their cacao to the sophisticated phases they undergo in the factory until they are developed consistently into the final product. I often wondered how Ghirardelli was able to achieve their chocolates’ smooth and silky characteristic, so attending the conference was almost like a dream come true.

I never knew how complex and specific the chocolate making procedures were. There is a particular heating, cooling, and mixing method for Ghirardelli’s diverse flavors. I’ve always enjoyed my chocolate. Most importantly, learning about the steps and passion that go into creating the perfect chocolate I’ve grown to love over the years certainly was more than enough reason for me to have an even deeper love and appreciation for every Ghirardelli square in which I continually indulge.

Ghirardelli Festival Highlights

Ready to explore the decadent flavors Ghirardelli Square has to offer!

So many stalls to visit, so little time!

Organic Pastures Dairy is too excited to give out samples to their Raw Whole Milk.

Fall in love with Ciao Bella"... and we surely did.

The chocolate tart with strawberry was just ooh-la-la!

The lovely entertainers definitely made the event so much more festive!

Steve Genzoli's passion for chocolate was contagious!

Cocoa bean shells

Roasted Cacao Nibs. When ground, these become the chocolate liquor in your favorite Ghirardelli chocolates.

Denice Sy has just recently been immersed in photography. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at the Haas School of Business in UC Berkeley. Denice gives great importance to maintaining a holistic approach to life. Aside from doing well in her academics, she also makes it a point that enough time is allotted to further improve her talents in the arts and photography. Denice takes photographs of almost anything for various occasions. She has done mall promotional tours, debuts, bridal showers, beach sceneries, book signing events, etc., but where she finds herself most passionate is in capturing the life, beauty, and zest that she believes is present and existent in every food shot. You can follow her on Twitter at