Miami International Mall briefly became a crossroad for chocolate, fashion and philanthropy on April 29 at the Doral shopping center’s second annual Chocolate Show.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Sears Court was transformed into a Candy Land complete with sweet treats and candy-covered garments, where both chocoholics and fashionistas came together to savor chocolate delicacies, enjoy creative fashion designs and support a great cause.
“Of all the events I get to attend as mayor, this chocolate show is one of my favorite,” said Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, who kicked-off the festivities.
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Local chocolatiers, pastry chefs and students from Miami International University of Art and Design came together for a fashion exhibit, sampling booths and presentations about the history, health benefits and culinary possibilities of chocolate.
Charles McDonald, chocolatier and owner of Miami Chocolates, educated the crowd with a presentation on the history of chocolate.
McDonald transported the audience back to the eras when the Aztecs used cocoa as currency and when chocolate was a delicacy reserved solely for European royalty. He even went on to recognize chocolate as an American war hero.
“Chocolate was given to soldiers as rations during the revolutionary war because it gave them energy and nutrition,” McDonald said, “so I guess you can say that chocolate helped us win the revolutionary war.”
As if people needed even more reasons to love chocolate, Ricardo Trillos of Cao Chocolates, considered the first chocolate business in Miami to create its own chocolate bean-to-bar, spoke about the food’s health benefits.
Dark chocolate is a commonly known energy source and aphrodisiac, but Trillos widened the scope of its health benefits and debunked a few myths about the sweet treat. He assured that the right kind of chocolate can also be used as a cough suppressant, migraine reducer and even a healthier pre-workout alternative to green juice.
“Just make sure to eat real chocolate,” Trillos said. “Dark chocolate should have large percentage of cocoa and the rest sugar, that’s about it, it should naturally be vegan and gluten free.”
The event also showcased chocolate as more than just an edible delicacy. Tambela's Natural Soaps used chocolate as a scent for soaps and perfumes and design students displayed their chocolate-inspired fashions.
Students were challenged with fashioning garments inspired and made of chocolates and chocolate wrappers. The university hand-picked 10 of the most colorful and elaborate designs to exhibit at the show.
“We really love having the opportunity to fundraise for a good cause and showcase our student’s work in a fun and creative way,” said Charlene Parsons, director of Miami International University of Art and Design.
The event was a fundraiser for the Parks & Police 4 Kids foundation which recently lost its biggest sponsor when the PGA tour moved out of Doral. The event was free but an Eventbrite was created to encourage donations to the cause. The show was sponsored by Comet Delivery, Miami International University of Art and Design, Doral Family Journal and Doral Times.
The nonprofit foundation, started 10 years ago under Bermudez’s first term as mayor, is geared toward helping at-risk youth overcome and prevent juvenile misconduct through various after-school programs and by forging a healthy relationship with the police force.
“Some of my proudest moments are seeing these kids grow to respect police authority, school officials and even their parents,” said Alberto J. Ruiz a director of the foundation.