Island Chocolates Company hosts fall festival in Victoria
by Peggy Miles
Forget love, I’d rather fall in chocolate.” That’s the adage written on a little container I have in my home office, and quite succinctly expresses my adoration for the decadent substance. Linda Gilbert shares this passion for confectionery and operates the Island Chocolates Company in Victoria by-the-Sea.
Gilbert’s self proclaimed philosophy is that there is “better living through chocolate.” She invites people to experience “the power of pleasure.” The proprietor incorporates chocolate into her daily routine, often beginning the day with a chocolatiers breakfast, and capping off an evening with a brandy- or mint-filled morsel.
Originally from British Columbia, Linda and husband Ron started the business 23 years ago. With Ron’s passing almost four years ago, Linda’s grown children Emma and Eric have become an integral part of the family business.
On September 19, the Gilberts will host the 4th Annual Chocolate Festival in Victoria. The family first hosted the event in 2007 to mark the company’s 20th anniversary. The festival provides the Gilberts with the opportunity to showcase their business while giving back to the village.
The day-long event gets underway with a pancake breakfast (complete with chocolate sauce of course), hosted by the local firemen’s club.
No doubt children will clamber to have their faces painted, since regular face paint will be cast aside in favour of white and brown chocolate! Festivities also include a chess tournament where young participants will be required to wear white gloves as they move the chocolate chess pieces across the game board.
Dr. Drinkwater (the chocolate therapist) will provide readings advising folks about which type of chocolate best suits their personality. Also, a massage therapist will be on hand to provide cocoa butter relief to tense muscles.
And then there’s the Best Brownie Contest. If you aren’t cut out for baking, don’t sit on the sidelines—anyone can participate as a judge!
The festival will feature workshops sharing information about the origin of chocolate, comparisons of the various qualities of chocolates and more. Eric Gilbert will share details of his four year experience involved at a chocolate co-op in Ecuador.
Island Chocolates is a new member of the Economusee Network, and the Network’s mission is in part to “conserve, develop and present traditional trades in a distinctive manner.” As part of this affiliation, the Gilberts will be unveiling a half dozen interpretive panels that will share information about the process of chocolate making, Eric’s Ecuadorian experience, facts about the historic building that houses the business, and pictures of the Gilbert’s collection of chocolate moulds. The new panels will be unveiled the week before the Festival.
What does Linda Gilbert want people to take away from their festival experience? She wants them to develop an appreciation for chocolate, and to discover chocolate’s true expression—“it’s whimsical, it’s fun, it’s tasty!” Popping a sweet confectionary into my mouth, closing my eyes and savouring the taste for just a moment, I can’t help but agree.